Adding to Excellence | Kia Stinger 2.0 GT Line

BY Marcus Lim

Kia’s already-excellent Stinger gets a mild facelift and quite a bit more equipment inside, but the price tag grows, too.

The Kia Stinger was a hit back in 2018 when it arrived in showrooms, offering a BMW 3-Series experience with a Toyota Camry price tag. Sharp, handsome styling? Check. Premium interior? Check. A turbocharged engine sending power to the rear wheels? Also check.
The 365 bhp Stinger GT we sampled in 2018 was a beautifully balanced driver’s car. So, does this new and improved version with the more economical 2.0-litre engine deliver the same experience? Spoiler alert: it does.

So, any drivetrain differences?

Unfortunately, no. Power output stays the same, with 244 bhp and 353 Nm of torque from the 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-pot. This means a 6 second century sprint, up to a 240km/h top speed.

The lack of drivetrain updates isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering how well it already drives. Its Nürburgring-developed chassis is nicely balanced between performance and comfort, despite the fixed dampers (Stinger GT gets electronically adjustable units). What’s lovely is how the suspension absorbs mid-corner bumps, ensuring that the chassis stays planted with no nasty surprises.

Throw the Stinger through some corners and the steering goes exactly where you point it to, while reporting the front wheels’ activities to you. Entered a corner a bit too overzealously? The tail end steps out rather predictably with controllable oversteer, though 244 bhp and an open diff means you can’t really hold the slide.

One complaint though, is that the 2.0-litre doesn’t sound like it particularly likes being wrung out. Bring it to the top of the rev range, and while there’s still more power to give, the car just sounds like a very angry vacuum cleaner.

Ah, that means all the changes are inside?

Not particularly. For starters, you get new headlights with restyled daytime running lights, sitting above the same bumper featuring Kia’s corporate grille. There’s a new wheel style too, featuring a funky directional design.

The largest change on the exterior of this facelift model are the taillights. Unlike the previous generation’s traditional lights, there’s now a large light bar that spans the entire rear end.

Cool, so what’s new inside?

This might sound weird, but neither has the interior really changed. Well, at first glance, at least.

The previous generation Stinger already came standard with a long equipment list, more than what you’d expect in its class. Buyers got cooled & heated seats, a heads-up display, and wireless charging – everything you might want in a tourer.

What you might’ve noticed is the new 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s now got a stitched leather-surfaced dash too, bumping the Stinger’s premium-ness up a bit.

Where most of the changes have happened though, is stuff you’ll notice when you set off on a drive. Kia has added its very comprehensive suite of safety and assistance features to the Stinger, similar to what you’d find on the new Sorento SUV and Carnival family-hauler.

This includes – bear with me – radar cruise control, lane-keep assist, forward-collision avoidance, and rear cross-traffic alert. What’s especially useful is the Blind-spot View Monitor, which projects a video feed from the mirrors to the instrument cluster. Surround View Monitor (fancy speak for a 360-degree camera) was also useful for a top-down view when parallel parking the 4.83m-long Stinger.

Lovely, so how much is it?

Ah, hmm, well, thanks to the increase in COE and CEVS surcharges, the Stinger is S$214,999 (as of May 2021). Yes, it does sound like quite a lot of money compared to the old model, which retailed for under S$170,000.

So sure, it’s no longer quite a Camry-price-tag bargain. But, it’s one of the more affordable rear-drive sports sedans; offering up a good looking package with a competent drivetrain and lengthy equipment list.

If your priorities skew toward how much fun you have in a car, rather than what people think of the car key hanging out of your pocket, you could do much worse than a Stinger.