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A hive of activity – 2021 Kia Stinger GT review

It seems like only yesterday (actually it was 2018) that Kia unveiled their all-new front-engine, rear wheel drive sports car, the Stinger GT. Not only was it far removed from their regular line-up of SUVs and compacts but it also filled the hole left by the category-exiting Falcon and Commodore, and we loved it. Well now, almost three years later, they’ve upgraded their sports sedan and here’s the buzz.

Sedans or saloons are becoming a bit of a rarity nowadays as in fact are rear-wheel drive only cars, rarer still is a vehicle that’s both eye-catching and yet somehow reserved. The Kia Stinger is a spacious 4.8m long family/executive four-door car that prompts a double take as it passes you by. 

Kia Stinger

And ‘pass you by’ it will, for under its cosmetically-vented bonnet lies a 3.3L V6 twin-turbo Lambda II powerhouse that produces 274kW and a whopping 510Nm AND propels this (sometimes) mild-mannered sedan from 0-100km/h in a latte-spilling 4.9 seconds. Now do I have your attention?

LED Headlights

The brand’s ‘Tiger-nose’ grille comes complete with a dark chrome frame and this same upmarket finish can be seen on such focal points as the door mirrors and side vents. The headlights are full-LED Bi-Function Projection Headlamps with Cornering Headlight Control that lights the way as you turn the wheel, while the wide lower air-curtains and valance lip adds to the car’s visual athleticism. 

Stinger Bonnet Vents

Aside from the dark-chrome accents, the Stinger GT’s profile offers up 19-inch alloys with sticky Michelin rubber and 350mm front disc brakes with Brembo red brake calipers to have you stopping in the proverbial dime. Its smooth contour lines and sloping roofline (with large sunroof) leads to a busy rear end that features chrome-coated quad exhaust pipes, full-width and split LED lights and a fast-back boot that opens to 406L of luggage space.

Stinger interior

Should you so choose (and I did a lot) the engine can be started remotely via the keyfob and entry is, of course, keyless. Once inside, you’re greeted with a modern and stylish cabin that merges space with minimalism, leather with chrome, and the latest suite of vehicle technology with classic undertones. A frameless rear view hovers above the large 10.25-inch colour LCD touch infotainment screen that is loaded with apps, some handy and functional (including Apple and Android connectivity) and some that are plain quirky – ‘sounds of nature’ springs to mind. 

2021 Kia Stinger GT review NZ

The seats are well worth talking about, they’re heated and ventilated with seemingly endless amounts of adjustability, but the coolest part is when you shift the driving mode to ‘sport’ the side bolsters automatically move in and grip you. It may be a small thing but the Stinger is loaded with these added extras.

Stinger GT Info screen

In truth I really enjoyed the Stinger GT and used it a lot (and I mean a lot) during my week behind the wheel. It flips between executive comfort and speed demon quickly and adroitly and offers an enjoyable drive for both. The launch control is rather complicated and would have your opponent leaving you stranded at the lights still pushing buttons, but when figured out, the off the mark acceleration does give you butterflies.

Buzzing around town and the ‘burbs in comfort, the Stinger GT is a gentle little bee that offers a soft, malleable ride. There’s room for four to stretch out and five to ride in relative comfort and the multizone A/C ensures no-one overheats unless they want to. Tight parking areas in malls or office blocks are a breeze thanks to the birds-eye view cameras and the Harman Kardon premium sound system with 15 Speakers will instantly have you tapping the heated-wheel to your favourite tunes, BUT…

The best fun to be had with the Stinger GT is when there’s no-one else watching. Switching to Sport firms up the suspension to ultra hard, quickens the steering, has the 8-speed Auto E-Shift (Shift-By-Wire) rapidly ramping up and down the gears and opens up the exhaust baffles, it truly releases the racer inside. The handling is thrilling as the rear Mechanical Limited Slip Differential works its magic and plenty of rubber can be left on the tarmac to show where you’ve been – this may sound all too much but surprisingly, it all feels so very safe and secure. 

2021 Kia Stinger GT review NZ

The Kia Stinger GT is a little bit Dr Jekyll with a nice slice of Mr Hive (sorry Hyde). There’s a sting in its tail should you wish to use it (and you know you do) but there’s also a mature, unassuming side that happily does a 9-5 commute. 

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