Before you start, this is the first of numerous reviews I plan to write regarding a 2018 Kia Stinger GT. This review includes my thoughts on numerous vehicles, why we bought the Kia and our first 5000km.
For context, the cars I previously owned include a 2.4L Mitsubishi Lancer, an 0.9L T Alfa Mito, a 1.6L Hyundai Elantra SR and a 2017 Subaru Forester.
After owning the Hyundai Elantra SR for 18 months (owner review also left on car advice), there was a strong desire to step into a car with greater performance. With a budget of <$70k, 275="" 2018="" i="" shortlisted="" the="" mustang="" (coming="" soon),="" bmw="" 140i="" (new)="" and="" 240i="" (demo),="" renault="" megane="" rs="" vw="" arteon,="" genesis="" g70="" soon)="" a="" stinger="" gt.="" my="" partner="" was="" set="" on="" mustang,="" liked="" (having="" driven="" trophy)="" but="" could="" settle="" with="" any="" of="" listed="" cars="" as="" they're="" all="" exceptional="" in="" their="" own="" way.<="" span="">
We researched, had a look around and our thoughts were (highly subjective):
- BMW 140i - Ugly outside, ugly inside
- BMW 240i – “New” price a little too high (demos within price range but non-existent in the lovely blue/orange colours)
- Megane RS – Wasn’t out. Too long to wait. No LSD on auto and flagship Trophy variant an even longer wait
- Arteon - Beautiful outside, bit boring inside, lower outputs compared to the other cars
- Mustang 2018 – Wasn’t out. Interior lacking. Impatient. V8 probably out of price range (especially including running costs).
- Genesis G70 - Love it. No AU price yet - likely 5-10k more than Stinger. Constantly delayed - Impatient
- Stinger GT - Nice exterior and interior, good warranty, good performance and features - arguably the most all-round package
After visiting a few brands, having a test drive and negotiating the price (EOFY are always a good time to purchase), we put a deposit down on a Red, 2018 Stinger GT.
We picked the Stinger (April 2018 build) due to its practicality (long car, hatchback, tons of room), performance (it’s a rocket ship, brakes are solid), design and quality (interior and outside are very nice) and technology (15 HK speakers, HUD, wireless charging to name a few).
The dealership we purchased through were exceptional throughout the whole experience, keeping us actively informed and even sending a cheeky video teaser when our car arrived at their dealership 3 weeks after ordering – they already had one “on the docks awaiting compliance checks”.
We’ve since driven the Kia 5000km over 3 months, comprised mainly of suburban driving along with a number of weekend trips out to places like Mudgee, the mountains and Port Stephens. The car was also taken through unsealed dirt roads in the Blue Mountains on its first drive – you don’t always need an SUV to take a car on the road less traveled.
I was initially concerned that the performance would come at a price (fuel consumption), and it’s safe to say that it does. On a highway using E10 (doesn’t require premium fuel), we’ve been getting 8.9L/100km, driving smoothly through suburbia, this increases to 11-12L/100km whilst general metro Sydney conditions pushes this up to 14-16/100km. Most of the time, I average around 15L/100km .
The car has the standard driving modes. Eco/Comfort is smooth, precise, comfortable and quiet with soft suspension and an amount of body roll. Changing to sport mode stiffens the suspension significantly and the throttle response tightens up. Most of the time, you’d be driving in “Smart” mode which supposedly adapts to your driving style and gives you the best blend of comfort and performance. In any of the modes, if you floor the pedal you’re likely to encounter a brief loss of traction through the rear which traction control does a great job in stabilising. I’ve only had one scary encounter (empty road – car slipped a bit too much) which was 100% due to stupidity on my behalf – you learn from it.
There are a number of issues reported with the Stinger and from what I’ve seen, most appear to be isolated to the early (2017) models. I have had none of these but for the benefit of others, they can include:
- Interior components coming off (very low number of reports)
- Paint prone to chipping/flaking (number of overseas reports)
- Yellow paint recall due to concerns about its longevity (other colours not impacted)
- Rattling boot (a little more common and not to be confused with general rattling caused by the user e.g. loose items in the doors like water bottles or sunglasses)
- Differential whining (a few reports)
- Differential shattering (2 reports – pretty dangerous)
For me, the choice of tyre used in AU is the main oversight – the continentals wear really quickly. Kia plan on using Michelin’s in the 2019 models, as seen in overseas models. I’ll likely need to replace the tyres around 12-20,000 KMs.
Technology wise, the 360 view camera is pretty convenient. I never had any issues using my eyes to park but it’s always nice having these driver aids – you will use them if they’re present and they definitely will help in minimising the (Rare) occurrence of scraping a tyre on a gutter or getting the front bumper a bit too close to any obstacles.
The speakers are excellent, especially when played at higher volumes and there’s a sneaky “Advanced” menu I only recently found that lets you select from a number of “surround sound” options, whereby instruments/sounds are assigned to specific speakers throughout the cabin to give you a greater sense of immersion.
I’ll also add that “once you go HUD” and wireless charging, you never go back. The HUD is incredibly handy given the steering wheel height often blocks speedo read-outs, whilst also prompting you speeding and red-light cameras. Wireless charging = one less cable in the car.
The space in the car is pretty substantial. I have no issues fitting large items (such as a telescope and mount along with luggage) into the boot. The design of the boot makes it arguably superior to most SUVs.
The NAV system is a hit-and-miss. It seems to never want to navigate us through the fastest route (when compared with google maps). There may be a setting we can adjust (i.e. fastest route instead of the shortest route) but we find the same happens in our Subaru Forester, thus tend to rely on Google Maps instead.
All-in-all, the Stinger is an exceptional package, especially for someone needing a larger sized, performance-orientated vehicle. In purchasing this car, we were not constrained/influenced by brand or segment – we looked at 2 seaters, 4 doors, coupes, muscle cars, hatchbacks, sedans and even a few SUVs (not documented above). After the complimentary service (3000km), all is going lovely. There was a cosmetic imperfection with one window seal which we had replaced (just because) and there are 2 very, very small scratches that I may get touched up.
For those who care, the Stinger is also getting a bit of support by the tuning/modding community, especially in Korea and the USA. In the future I may look at some enhancements but for now, the car is everything I hoped it would be.
Potential owners should also look to budget:
- $450/year for servicing (there may be a few major services that peak around $600-700 though)
- 13L/100km for fuel +/- 4L/100km depending on whether you’re a highway or peak hour commuter
- $1800-3000 a year for comprehensive insurance (depending on your circumstances)