BMW With A Side of Kimchi: The 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD
The 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD.

"This is the car they said couldn't be built by this company."  That's been said a lot about Kia products
over the past 24 years as the South Korean carmaker kept stepping up its game, first in terms of content, then quality, then styling and now, performance.

With the Stinger GT2 AWD, Kia has built a 167 mile per hour, zero-to-60 in 4.7 seconds, 12.9 seconds in the quarter-mile sports sedan.  And lest you think that the headline above is hype, Kia benchmarked the BMW 4-series in developing the Stinger.  And most of its performance stats put it right in the hunt with mid-sizers from BMW, Audi and Mercedes.  The 0-60 time is actually a tenth of a second quicker than the BMW 440i Gran Coupe, and a full second quicker than the Audi A5 Sportback.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD
2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD.
Beyond its seriously good looks (it's even lower, wider and more menacing in person), the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD packs a 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 making 365 horsepower with an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.  There's also dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive, five drive modes (Eco, Smart, Comfort, Sport and Custom), an electronically controlled suspension, Brembo performance brakes with an electronic parking brake and 19-inch wheels on summer tires.

And, despite the considerable oomph, the EPA figures 19 miles per gallon city/25 highway.

While considerably tamer Stingers (255 horsepower, rear wheel drive) can be had for a base price of  $31,900, the price for the GT2 AWD is $51,400.  A sobering number for a Kia, to be sure, but a bargain for the class of cars in which it competes.

Interior view of 2018 Kia Stinger
2018 Kia Stinger interior.
As with all Kias, the value equation runs high in terms of standard equipment.  That $51,400 buys the aforementioned high-performance mechanicals, as well as Nappa leather trim, heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone climate control with air filtration, a heated steering wheel, power adjustable driver and passenger seats, a memory driver's seat with power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a Harmon Kardon premium audio system with Clari-Fi (which restores digitally compressed audio), navigation with an eight-inch touch screen, rear camera, a free three-month subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio, a color LCD instrument cluster with sport gauges, multi-color interior LED mood lighting, a head-up display, forward collision avoidance and warning system, smart cruise control with stop & go, lane keep and departure warning system, drive attention warning, high beam assist, blind spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic collision warning, a power sunroof, LED headlights with low-beam dynamic assist, a smart power trunk and auto rain-sensing wipers.

The Stinger also comes with Kia's 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertain warranty. 

So, have BMW, Audi and Mercedes been beaten at their own game?  Not quite yet.  While the Stinger is well built, well equipped and more than competitively priced, it doesn't deliver the subtle yet critical premium tactile sensations of the three Teutonic titans.  But note that I wrote "not quite yet".  Kia roared up on Honda and Toyota's bumper in the blink of an eye.  The Stinger GT2 AWD is already looming large in the rearview mirrors of the Europeans.  By the next refresh, I may have a different answer.