When we first became aware of the fact that vehicle manufacturing in Australia was set to be wound up, you’d be forgiven for thinking the world was crazy with Kia looking the most likely to fill the void. And yet, the 2021 Kia Stinger is the large sedan that most closely replicates what Australian cars were all about.
On test here we have the 2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line, which is one of two four-cylinder variants that fill out the four-model range. So, it’s Aussie in platform and underpinnings, but not so much in engine. Then again, if you want more power, there are two V6 variants to choose from. Interestingly, the future of the Stinger remains uncertain, illustrating once again that despite the misty-eyed glances in the rear-view mirror, Australians (in large numbers anyway) have moved on from this segment.
While we’d recommend the V6 for the performance benefit alone, plenty of people will buy in this space on style alone, and the GT-Line is nothing if not stylish, especially in this deep hue. Our pricing and specification guide details the model breakdown, but let’s first take a quick look at the highlights.
Pricing for the GT-Line starts from $57,230 before on-road costs, and while there are no major visual exterior changes, there is a new infotainment system inside that we’re familiar with from the Sorento.
Standard equipment includes that new (10.25-inch) infotainment inclusion and a 15-speaker audio system, dual-zone AC, a rear-view camera, side and front cameras, keyless entry and start, parking sensors front and rear, 19-inch alloy wheels, active cruise control, leather seats, which are heated and cooled front seats, native satellite navigation, auto LED headlights and a head-up display. For the full specification list, check out our pricing and specification guide.
You also get DAB as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The smartphone mirroring system worked faultlessly for us on test, as did Bluetooth. It has to be said that nearly every passenger wondered what the ambient soundscapes track listing was all about, and to a certain extent, I agree. I’m not sure when you’d want to emulate a noisy coffee shop environment inside your car, for example…
|2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Power and torque||182kW at 6200rpm, 353Nm at 1400–4000rpm|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||8.8L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||10.1L/100km|
|ANCAP safety rating||5-star rating from 2017|
|Warranty||7 years/unlimited km|
|Main competitors||Peugeot 508, Skoda Superb|
|Price as tested (excluding on-road costs)||From $57,230|
You know that we’re fans of the Stinger’s styling here at CarAdvice, and that hasn’t changed with age. There’s no hiding from the fact that Australian buyers really do prefer a large SUV – no matter how boxy it might be – to a sleek sedan, but that doesn’t take away from the stylish lines of the Stinger. It looks good from any angle, in most colours, and the fact that Kia has resisted the urge to tweak the styling needlessly means it has aged gracefully as well.
Consider the Stinger a four-seater – in the traditional Euro grand touring sense – with a meaty driveline tunnel eating into the space that would otherwise house a fifth occupant. The roof line is low, so some super-tall second-row occupants might struggle, and if your Stinger has a sunroof like our tester did, that eats into head room a bit more, too.
No problem for me, I have zero interest in sunroofs, so this is just another reason to dislike them. That one splits opinion among testers at CarAdvice, though, with plenty disagreeing with me on the sunroof argument, and those that do like them reckon the Stinger’s is one of the better ones. There is more than enough leg and shoulder room in the second row, though, no matter how far back the front-seat occupants have the seats.
As is common for Kia now, the cabin is neatly arranged and usefully executed. The doors house proper bottle holders, for example, second-row occupants get air vents, there are four cupholders, as well as places to store phones, keys and wallets. The boot is an interesting one. In theory, the liftback arrangement is a clever one, but the real-world size of the boot points to one reason buyers preference SUVs as heavily as they do.
You get 406L with the second row in use, out to 1114L with those seats folded down. The hatch itself is huge, and the section of the body that it covers is likewise quite broad, but the physical opening inside the boot isn’t so broad – meaning it might be a struggle to carry anything too big. Still, you could argue that you’re not buying a sporty sedan for its load-hauling abilities.
As we have said for some time now, the ergonomics inside the cabin are excellent, the comfort level the same, and everything works as it should. The red cabin might not be to everyone’s tastes, but it definitely stands out against the dark exterior colour. The heated and cooled seats are comfortable, with the cooling especially appreciated during the warm weather for our testing. The comfort of the cabin lends itself to effortless long-distance touring, which is one discipline you’d certainly expect the Stinger to be good at.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine – while not delivering the fire and brimstone of the V6 – is still an impressive unit that is more than capable of getting the job done for buyers who don’t covet performance. RWD like its sportier sibling, of course, there’s an eight-speed automatic as well as 182kW and 353Nm on offer. Remember when a Holden V8 made 185kW?
It’s no slouch either in the real world – 0–100km/h is over in 6.0 seconds against a 4.9-second claim for the V6. The claimed fuel consumption figure on the ADR cycle is 8.8L/100km, and on test we used 10.1L/100km. Not too bad given the Stinger is big – 1750kg – and the engine isn’t.
There’s a tendency to measure the GT-Line against the GT, which isn’t really fair. If you want the V6, I think you’ll go straight to it, and the chances of you driving them back-to-back are low. Therefore, if you take the four-cylinder for a test drive, will you like it? The answer to that is most probably yes.
The Stinger never feels sluggish with the smaller engine, and it can get up to speed sharply should you need to. Countering that, it’s an effortless, relaxed and comfortable cruiser when you require that kind of driving experience as well.
As ever, Kia’s local suspension tune makes the most of the competent platform the factory has delivered, and the ride is exceptional on 19-inch tyres. It’s comfortable over choppy surfaces, but sporty when the mood takes you. The steering is excellent, meaty and direct, and the general sense of balance is high-quality, too. The LSD helps, of course, and there’s an all-round sense of poise no matter the road surface.
If you really wind the wick up, the four-cylinder will run out of puff, more so at the top end than anywhere else, and it’s here that the GT-Line presents more as grand tourer than sports sedan. The balance between ride quality and handling is excellent.
Around town, you are conscious of the fact that the Stinger is a big car. Not so much in that it feels unwieldy, but more so that getting into and out of tight streets and carparks takes some attention, especially for those of you moving up from smaller segments.
Safety is taken care of with an array of standard inclusions like seven airbags, ABS, ESC, traction control, forward AEB that works at high and low speed, pedestrian and cyclist detection, intersection assist, lane-keep assist, steering assist, driver-attention monitor, forward collision warning that works from low to high speed, as well as front and rear cross-traffic alert. Its five-star ANCAP rating carries forward.
The Stinger is covered by Kia’s still excellent seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, and the first year of ownership is also covered with roadside assistance. Keep taking your Stinger to a Kia dealer for its scheduled servicing and the roadside assistance stretches out to eight years.
Services are required every 12 months or 10,000km, which in itself is interesting. We see plenty of comments where people complain about 10,000km service intervals, but I’m more than happy having the oil and filters replaced on my high-performance turbo engine every 10,000km as a preventative measure. Over the first seven years under warranty, scheduled services will cost you $3459.
All in all, the four-cylinder Stinger is a quality offering. As Justin found with his review of the base model, it's probably better than the sales results indicate. While the V6 gets all of the plaudits, there’s no reason not to consider the smaller engine if you’re looking more at style than lusting after a rapid sports sedan.
It’s still a fun drive on the right road, too. It only takes a short drive in a car like the Stinger to remember that SUVs aren’t the last word on everything.