It’s not quite up to its midlife overhaul yet, but with a running model-year change, the Kia Stinger has come in for attention.
As a result, Kia’s star attraction now features a simpler range. Mid-spec models have been ditched, leaving entry level and flagship variants to carry on, along with some small tweaks to specification.
The 2019 Kia Stinger GT-Line on test here represents the upper echelon of the four-cylinder range, though unless you're an avid trainspotter, there’s not much to separate it visually from the V6-powered Stinger GT.
Priced from $56,290 plus on-road costs, the Stinger GT-Line sits a significant $9100 above the entry-level Stinger 200S, but asks $4500 less than the fully fledged GT. A somewhat happy middle-ground overall, particularly if you don’t need the rush of a hi-po turbo V6.
Across the range, all variants feature dual-zone climate control, rear air vents, LED interior lighting, proximity key with push-button start, auto lights and wipers, sports seats with powered adjustment for the driver, power-folding mirrors, rear-view camera with dynamic lines, and rear park sensors.
The step up to GT-Line specification adds features like 19-inch alloy wheels (over base-model 18s), real leather trim, powered passenger seat, additional driver seat adjustment with memory settings, front seat heating and cooling, heated steering wheel, sunroof, LED headlights, a 7.0-inch TFT instrument cluster display, wireless phone charging, suede-look headlining and sports pedals.
The GT-Line also picks up an upsized 8.0-inch infotainment system with a ‘bezel-less’ display, 15-speaker Harman Kardon audio, satellite navigation with 10 years of traffic info and free map updates, AM/FM/DAB radio, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
The interior is a pleasant place to be. It might only be a little thing, but the new screen treatment gives a more premium feel to the interior compared to launch versions. The aluminium trim treatments and general look and feel of the interior straddle mainstream and upmarket satisfactorily. There’s nothing that feels underdone or cheaped-out, yet premium marques still have some breathing room.
We’ve noted noises and creaks from Stingers in the past. On this occasion, the GT-Line didn’t put a foot wrong in that regard.
The red trim option makes for a rather dramatic-looking interior. The front seats feature a sporty profile, but still manage to fit a variety of shapes and sizes with little fuss.
The hunkered-down roof line means you’ll have to drop down into the rear bench, but once inside there’s much more leg room than expected. The raked seats are relaxing to recline into, but outward visibility is limited.
Pop the powered tailgate for access to 406L of boot space, with a long and wide boot, but a lack of overall depth. With the 60:40-split rear seat folded, space grows to 1114L, though the floor isn’t fully flat.
There are no built-in bag hooks or other utility functions built into the boot either (honestly, these are my new favourite obsession – a good bag hook means never having to chase your groceries around the nooks of your boot again).
If you’re keeping score on the safety front, all Stinger variants include seven airbags, a pedestrian-protecting pop-up bonnet, rear park sensors, rear-view camera, self-dimming interior mirror, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist and driver-attention monitoring.
The GT-Line adds in extra safety-skewed convenience touches with front sensors, a 360-degree camera system, dimming exterior mirrors and high-beam assist. Infotainment includes warnings for level crossings and fixed red light or speed cameras – helpful, but it might be nice if they were a touch less intrusive and persistent.
All Stinger variants carry a five-star ANCAP safety rating as of April 2018 (under 2017 assessment criteria), though earlier entry-grade cars hold a four-star rating owing to a lack of AEB.
Take to the road, and with 182kW and 353Nm from a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder, the lesser-engined Stinger provides output that’s above adequate without being boisterously over the top. In the role of family runabout, it's approachable, easy to operate, and free from aggravating quirks.
Matched to an eight-speed torque converter automatic and sending power to the rear wheels, the auto is smooth and linear, as is power delivery from the engine. No jolts, shuddering, or over-eager rear-wheel action here.
Two functions are included that perhaps aren’t as agreeable depending on your personal preference. One is a coasting mode for the transmission, and the other is an artificially generated engine sound.
The former decouples the engine and transmission when lifting off the throttle, which is fine in theory, while the other makes a more, uh… Evocative noise when you prod the throttle. Menu settings allow both to be deactivated, and the Stinger GT-Line is all the more pleasant with them off.
There’s no real sense of occasion as the engine spools up. It’s not too peaky, delivering torque in a consistent arc and making it more suited to business than pleasure.
Perhaps it’s a little hard to warm to the 2.0-litre engine knowing the far swifter 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 exists, yet in all but the most focused driving, the four-cylinder is more than up to the task. It may not rev as feverishly, or pin you as hard in your seat, but for meandering from home to office to school run it has more than enough punch.
Kia suggests a 0–100km/h time of six seconds flat. That’s still pretty decent. You have to work to extract it, though. You won’t find that potential by accident, and in Comfort or Eco modes the package isn’t as lively as Sport mode.
Local calibration ensures the adaptive suspension delivers good ride, even with big 19-inch wheels and staggered 225/40 front and 255/35 rear tyres. Big hits still tend to reverberate through the cabin with a boom, but the discomfort is more aural than physical.
Ride can also be adjusted via the drive-mode controller. Sport mode seems a touch too unforgiving for all but the smoothest roads, but playing with the Individual mode allows a comfortable ride with the more eager sporty settings for engine and transmission, which is a great way to wake the Stinger up if you’re keen on a more spirited experience.
The Stinger GT-Line is decently comfortable, hushed and relaxed for long, loping drives. Better to stick with its strengths than push it into performance it can’t deliver. Once again, the Stinger V6 is your safer bet for outright whomp.
Fuel consumption is rated at an official 8.8 litres per 100km. Our test saw a rather close 9.8L/100km, but how you use your car will have an impact. The trip computer indicated as low as 6.5L/100km on highway runs or 14.4L/100km on all-urban runs.
Kia’s seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty (or capped to 150,000km for commercial-use cars) still stands as one of the longest aftersales programs available. Capped-price servicing is also available over the warranty period.
Maintenance costs tally $3528 inclusive of fluids and filters at $298, $484, $369, $670, $335, $618, and $754 for each respective visit on 12-month or 10,000km intervals – whichever comes first, meaning some owners may push past one service per year on distance.
An abundant equipment list, workable and comfortable interior, and polite dynamics give the Stinger GT-Line real positive presence. It’s eye-catching without massive compromises to family functionality.
The GT-Line will forever live in the shadow of the more muscular V6 GT, though it needn’t. Every bit as well equipped where it matters, with a more sensible approach to performance and economy, the flagship four-cylinder finds its own comfortable niche in the Stinger line-up.