The Kia Stinger 2.2 CRDi GT-Line S combines a fantastic driving experience with comfort, space and good economy on long journeys.
Kia initially sold vehicles in the UK that were seen as affordable and good value, and over recent years it has progressed to offering cars that can rival class-leaders. It has now launched its first rear-wheel drive ‘Grand Tourer’ in the UK – so how has it done for a first try?
The Kia Stinger has a 4-cylinder, 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine, an 8-speed automatic gearbox, and rear-wheel drive. This powertrain is clothed in a five-door, five-seat ‘fast back’ body style, which looks really good. The interior has a feel that can rival premium cars, yet it also retains Kia’s common sense and functional dashboard design and layout. There’s lots of space for passengers, with a good-sized boot.
You can tell what a car is like to drive after just a few hundred metres. It starts with the driving position and the controls. The Kia Stinger gets a tick in the box here: the seat and steering wheel can adjust to give a good driving position. The gear selector just needs one pull to engage Drive, and the powertrain is responsive from standstill.
You’re then aware that the engine feels smooth and powerful, even if there is some noise from the diesel powertrain at low speeds. As well as the seats being comfortable, the ride is also impressive, even over poor road surfaces. As you negotiate your first corner, even at low speed, you become aware that the rear-wheel drive chassis is really well balanced – as well as the fact that the car has a low centre of gravity, unlike an SUV. And you realise that the steering feels responsive and well-weighted.
For us, all the above observations happened over a distance of less than a mile, and our next experience with the Stinger was a 200 mile motorway journey from Manchester to the South West. This showed that the Stinger, which Kia labels as a Grand Tourer, was indeed highly proficient at carrying out this role; it’s an excellent way to cover long distances on motorways. It feels stable and secure, refined and comfortable. And then there’s the economy – but we’ll come to that in the next section.
When the motorway ended, the next leg of our journey was over Dartmoor. At this point the Stinger really came into its own, being a fantastic car to pilot along twisting A and B roads. The rear-wheel drive chassis – and engine and gearbox combination – meant that this wasn’t just a vehicle for getting you between points A and B. Instead it was a hugely enjoyable driver’s car, in which you look forward to every corner and you’re disappointed when you reach your final destination. The next day’s journey from Devon to Salisbury Plain was equally as enjoyable.
In addition to ticking the boxes with driving position, ride and handling, the engine almost feels smooth and torquey enough to be a 6-cylinder, 3-litre unit, and it also generates a sporty noise that’s piped into the cabin in Sports mode. The automatic gearbox also works well, and you can change gear manually using the steering wheel-mounted paddles, which certainly adds to the driver engagement on cross-country dashes. However one of the very few issues with this car is that around 10 seconds after changing gear manually, the car will revert to changing gears automatically. Having a fully manual override option for the automatic transmission would be preferable.
There are four drive mode settings to choose from: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus (these settings are likely to sound familiar to BMW owners, as well as the drive mode controller being in a similarly easy to access position). Again, like a BMW, you can easily zoom in and out of the satnav map, but unlike most BMWs at this price point, the Stinger also has the added bonus of a lot of camera viewing options – front, rear, left, right etc etc.
The official NEDC combined fuel economy for the Kia Stinger 2.2 CRDi GT-Line S is 48.7mpg, with CO2 emissions of 154g/km. A combined economy figure of less than 50mpg and CO2 emissions of over 150g/km CO2 doesn’t sound great, but at 70mph on the motorway the Stinger was returning over 50mpg, and at speeds of 50mph, it was delivering an indicated 70mpg. At 60mph on A and B roads it was achieving 55mpg. After a week with the car in mixed driving including urban areas, the real-world average economy was 44.0mpg. This is a good result for a car that delivers such an excellent all-round driving experience – particularly as the Stinger, with a kerb weight of 1810kg, is quite heavy.
The Kia Stinger 2.2 CRDi GT-Line S, as tested, costs £37,725. This is the one diesel engine in the line-up; there’s also a 2-litre petrol with 244bhp, and a 3.3-litre petrol with 365bhp. Trim levels are GT-Line, GT-Line S, and GT S.
The Kia Stinger is an excellent car. It has rewarding handling, a comfortable ride, a 4-cylinder 2.2-litre diesel engine that thinks it’s a 6-cylinder 3-litre diesel, and a (mostly) responsive transmission. It’s also spacious, it looks good on the outside, and the interior is a perfectly pleasant and functional environment.
Emissions of more than 150g/km CO2 and combined NEDC fuel economy of less than 50mpg don’t suggest that the Stinger is going to score well from a green angle, but if you look at this in relation to its performance and the driving experience, it’s not too bad. And things get even better when you look at the real-world economy; we were consistently enjoying more than 50mpg at 70mpg on the motorway, and mid-50’s mpg at around 60mph on A and B roads.
So the Stinger, in diesel form, is ideal for people who drive lots of motorway miles, but it’s even better when you turn off the motorway and head cross-country.
However the most significant thing is that Kia has produced a car that can rival the likes of a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe at its very first attempt. It seems obvious that many aspects of the Stinger are modelled on such a competitor, and it has come very, very close to matching a BMW in a lot of areas – yet at a lower price (although the Stinger still has quite a high BIK rate of 35%). If Kia can do this with its first attempt at a rear-wheel drive ‘Grand Tourer’, what’s going to happen when the brand combines the driving experience of a Stinger with the efficiency of a Kia Niro PHEV? Other manufacturers should be watching Kia very closely.
The Kia Stinger 2.2 CRDi GT-Line S is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.