Kia Stinger GT-Line

This isn't the Stinger you've read about.

This was originally going to be yet another “best car no one buys” type of article. I mean, thanks to its turbocharged engine and RWD platform, the name Stinger continues to elicit excitement throughout the car community. It’s a car that’s both theoretically driftable and a budget-minded competitor to something like the BMW 5 Series. What’s not to like? I also had already been in a couple of different Stingers in my day, so really, all I had to do was cut and paste my old articles here and collect those sweet, sweet internet points.

But those plans changed with my first drive. What is happening here? Why does this car feel so cheap? So slow?

I then read the Monroni: it’s a base-model Stinger, now called the GT-Line. My past Stinger drives have all been in the top-of-the-line GT2 AWD version, which boasts a 3.3-liter, 365-hp turbocharged V6, a better wheel and tire package, and a more polished interior.

(The GT2 is also the model grade that got all of Kia’s PR spend, as non-GT2 press photos of the Stinger simply don’t exist. So when you see these images and think, “huh, that’s nice!” That’s because it isthe nicer version. Moving on…)

My new base-level loan, however, is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger rated at a respectable-ish 255 horsepower. Its 260 lb-ft of torque number also sounds okay, until you consider the fact that it’s a full 116 foot-pounds of twisty force down from the V6.

This GT-Line also lacks the V6’s larger Brembo brake package, is missing a limited-slip diff, has no form of torque vectoring control, and has a less-precise steering rack. Its turbo-four is mated to an automatic 8-speed transmission, albeit with a slightly different gear set than what you get in the V6. So overall: the Stinger GT-Line offers less performance, but still has to move around a package that weighs in at a hefty 3829 pounds.

But what the GT-Line also lacks is the GT2’s $50,300 starting MSRP. The starting price for my tester is a more reasonable $32,990, and with its myriad options – which is really just the sound system – comes in at a still-respectable $37,605. Actual transaction prices start a few grand less than that.

But I live in a fantasy world where every car is free, which means I tend to judge vehicles based on what they offer, not how much they offer them for. And to be honest, this base-level Stinger doesn’t offer a lot of what I want.

Let’s start with that engine, because that’s where most of my issues lie. It feels like a capable engine, because with each stab of the gas, I can feel the engine surge and try and show off each and every one of its 260 torques. The trouble is, that feeling of power doesn’t translate into forward momentum. The Stinger feels slow. Lazy. Maybe it’s due to the revised 8-speed transmission. Or maybe it’s because of that nearly two-ton curb weight. Whatever it is, the Stinger acts as if it wants to do the least amount of work, and expend the least amount of effort while doing so.

And despite its long wheelbase, it’s not the greatest cruiser. Sure, it’s competent in that it turns and stops as directed. But when speeding down the freeway, the Kia doesn’t want to take command of its line and charge ahead. Road bumps and dips give the chassis momentary feelings of nervousness, and again, that lack of throttle response means the car can’t exactly power its way out of these scenarios.

But what’s especially frustrating is that Kia – or rather, sister company Genesis – already has a solution on the market. The Genesis G70 rides on the same platform and has the same engine, but gets a 6-speed manual option. Granted, this transmission won’t exactly set the world on fire, but it gives drivers the ability to wring out that 2.0-liter in a way that best suits their own unique driving style.

And with the Stinger positioning itself as a “driver’s car,” doing this simple parts swap should have been a no-brainer. As driving enthusiasts, we tend to forgive certain performance aspects if we can feel that more direct connection with the car. But Kia, in all its wisdom, opted against doing so. And maybe that’s why the Stinger is about to be killed.

And that’s a damn shame, as it’s still a gorgeous machine. It’s the ultimate expression of the Peter Schreyer-era of design, with taut lines, pleasing details, and a low, long silhouette. Interior material choices can feel as if they were selected for their price point, but with its Audi-esque styling cues, the Stinger’s cabin is still a nice place to be. There’s a surprising amount of room both front and rear, the seats are comfortable, and all the touch points feel – if you’ll excuse the pun – on point.

With its looks, robust features list and spec sheet, the Kia Stinger GT-Line should be a home run. But again, things just somehow miss the mark – especially when compared to the V6-powered GT2.

But that said, all the Stinger GT-Line’s shortcomings could be easily rectified in the aftermarket. There are already companies that promise an extra hundred ponies with just a chip tune, and it can’t be that hard to throw a new suspension on this thing, right? And as Kia continues to throw cash on the hood of every new Stinger, maybe this sedan can become the next hot tuning platform. And maybe then people will actually buy these things.

Highlights Description
Engine 2.0-liter Twin-Scroll Turbo 4-Cylinder
Horsepower 255 @ 6200 rpm
Torque 260 lb-ft @ 1400-4000 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Suspension, F/R MacPherson strut/Multi-Link
Brakes, F/R 12.6-in. vented discs/12.4-in. solid discs
Wheels and Tires 18-in. alloy, 225/45R18 all-season tires
Curb weight 3829 lbs.
Overall length 190.2 in.
Overall width 73.6 in.
Overall height 55.1 in.
Wheelbase 114.4 in.