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Driven: Kia Stinger 2.0 T-GDi. Image by Kia.

Driven: Kia Stinger 2.0 T-GDi
Can Kia’s mighty Stinger still convince, in the guise of a model shorn of the epic 3.3 V6 engine?

   



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Kia Stinger 2.0 T-GDi

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We've driven the Kia Stinger in its range-topping and jaw-dropping V6 GT S guise, but you can also have it with the 2.2-litre CRDi engine from a Kia Sorento or this 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol motor, as previously seen in an Optima GT. As the cheapest Stinger of all, there's much to recommend about going for the 2.0 T-GDi GT-Line, but does it feel special enough now it has lost two cylinders and 125hp?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Kia Stinger 2.0 T-GDi GT-Line Auto
Pricing: Stinger range from £31,995, for 2.0 T-GDi as tested
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door coupe-fastback
CO2 emissions: 181g/km (VED £800 first 12 months, then £140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 35.8mpg
Top speed: 149mph
0-62mph: 5.8 seconds
Power: 245hp at 6,200rpm
Torque: 353Nm at 1,400- to 3,500rpm

What's this?

Kia's halo grand tourer coupe-fastback, the Stinger, but without the sort of firepower that can make it outpunch an Audi S5 Sportback or BMW 440i Gran Coupe. While the 3.3-litre, 370hp V6 that turns the flagship GT S Stinger into such a game-changing machine is a stellar engine, it's likely that most UK buyers of Kia's grandest car will opt for a four-cylinder model instead. These are available in GT-Line and GT-Line S specifications, but while the diesel is all well and worthy, this 2.0-litre T-GDi turbocharged four-cylinder engine looks to be an intriguing purchase.

The reason? Well, it's still pretty perky in the performance stakes. Much like Ford's equally 'VFM' sports car, the Mustang - where everyone simply overlooks the really-quite-pacey EcoBoost model in favour of the V8 - there's a danger that the 245hp/353Nm Stinger will become something of a minority interest on these shores.

It shouldn't be ignored, though. The 2.0 T-GDi is almost ten grand cheaper than the Stinger GT S and yet it'll still do 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and almost 150mph, making it more than quick enough for most people's needs. You also have quoted economy in the mid-30s instead of the high-20s, while the CO2 emissions lead to a much better VED liability - the 2.0-litre Stinger is £400 cheaper in year one than the V6 and then it drops to £140 a year from year two of ownership onwards, whereas the GT S has to stomach the £450 'rich tax' until its seventh year.

You also get 99 per cent of the V6's exterior visual drama and the impressively attractive, well-equipped interior... but it's at this point that you start to notice the subtle differences between the 'base' Stinger and the alpha male version. For a start, outside it still looks tremendous, save for the 18-inch alloys. It's not that they particularly startle you in terms of their lack of diameter; it's more that they're just not very pretty, certainly not compared to the gorgeous 19s on the GT S. And inside, while everything is screwed together beautifully and there are plenty of luxuries, and the head-up display continues to make you wonder how Kia can get such a thing so right when the financial clout of Jaguar simply can't, you begin to pick up on the items that aren't there. Like the lack of ventilation in the front seats. The absence of a wireless Qi smartphone charger. The sound system that isn't the 15-speaker Harman Kardon effort of the V6. The limited range of electric adjustability for the driver's seat.

There's more you won't see by merely sitting in the cabin prodding and poking things, as the T-GDi GT-Line doesn't have Brembo brakes or self-levelling LED headlights with a cornering function, but you can actually add much of this missing kit to the 2.0-litre Stinger by stepping up to the GT-Line S (£35,495) trim, a £3,500 price walk from the entry-level car. Nevertheless, there's just a nagging suspicion that the 245hp Kia isn't going to impress as much as the 370hp model... although the Korean company would no doubt counter such an argument by saying a 2.0-litre TFSI A5 Sportback isn't as mesmerising as an S5. Fair dos.

How does it drive?

Luckily, all our grousing about the paucity of interior knick-knacks is soon forgotten. On the move, the Stinger 2.0 T-GDi still feels a charming and thoroughly likeable car - indeed, it actually feels quicker than its 0-62mph time has you believe. Linked up to the excellent eight-speed automatic, the Kia is incredibly responsive to throttle inputs, and it hauls quickly and efficiently up to the national limit, with little to report in the way of turbo lag.

If we're honest, you don't particularly notice a marked improvement in the way the Stinger T-GDi turns in, despite the fact its 2.0-litre engine is obviously lighter than the hefty 3.3 V6 in the GT S. But what you do pick up on is some of Kia's best steering yet and also the fact the fixed-rate springs and dampers of this model give a ride/handling balance that feels every bit as good as the variable shock absorbers on the ultimate Stinger. Part of the 2.0-litre's compliance will be down to the bigger 45-profile sidewalls on the smaller 18-inch alloys, but it's still really impressive that a one-size-fits-all suspension set-up from a company not traditionally known for performance cars can be this brilliantly balanced first time out.

It's also very easy to get the rear to slide, smoothly and progressively, if you kick the throttle down in lower gears, so all of the rear-wheel drive fun factor remains with the four-cylinder Stinger GT-Line. However, two minor black marks to note: one, the non-Brembo brakes aren't quite as confidence-inspiring as the brutal stoppers on that apex GT S; and two, the sound the 2.0-litre engine makes under full acceleration is sonically augmented. It's a little bit too synthetic for our liking, the noise piped through the speakers being considerably OTT in both Sport and Sport+ modes. At least Kia hasn't tried to make this artificial soundtrack mimic the V6 or any old V8; it's indubitably a four-cylinder grumble that's being amplified and bolstered by the stereo system. Its falseness will put some people off, though, that's for sure.

Verdict

The 2.0-litre T-GDi is the acid test for whether Kia has got the Stinger right or wrong, as a whole. Anything with 370hp, a turbocharged V6 and a top speed in the region of 170mph is going to quickly win friends and influence people, but the trick is to get the more everyday models of the line-up to be desirable too; it's a gift that BMW and Audi have worked hard on for years.

Thankfully, as big fans of the Stinger, the 2.0-litre passes the credibility exam with flying colours. It does still feel premium, special and alluring, even if it's not quite as marvellous as the V6 and it has a needlessly synthetic soundtrack. Fast, poised, nicely equipped and priced at the level of a glut of hot hatches, the Kia Stinger proves that the Korean marque is comfortably matching up to the big boys.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 2 Mar 2018



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2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 GT-Line drive. Image by Kia.2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 GT-Line drive. Image by Kia.2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 GT-Line drive. Image by Kia.2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 GT-Line drive. Image by Kia.2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 GT-Line drive. Image by Kia.

2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 GT-Line drive. Image by Kia.2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 GT-Line drive. Image by Kia.2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 GT-Line drive. Image by Kia.2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 GT-Line drive. Image by Kia.2018 Kia Stinger 2.0 GT-Line drive. Image by Kia.








 

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