Fast Take: 2019 Kia Stinger GT 20th Anniversary

Words by: Adam Allen

What is it?

Regular patrons of the Carpages Garage establishment will recognize this as the Kia Stinger from a couple of summers ago when we flogged one for the first time, except that this one is painted in a fetching shade of Ghost Grey and is a special 20th Anniversary model. It’s an homage to Kia’s presence in the Canadian market. The Korean brand has a story of rags to riches that’s been played out ad nauseum throughout thousands of reviews over the years, and rather than hop on that bandwagon we’ll ask you this- if you ever had the (ahem) pleasure of driving a Kia Sephia from the late 1990’s, what are the odds that back then you could have imagined driving an accomplished sports car packing 350-plus horsepower, a trick AWD system and a snappy 8-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddles a couple of decades later? Even Las Vegas can’t fathom such longshot odds. Suffice it to say that the Stinger is not just a truly impressive car because of the badge it wears but it’s an impressive car, period. You can also think of the Stinger as the democratization of a near luxury sedan with genuine sporting credentials- if there is another option that exists which provides a similar recipe at this price point, we’d like to see it.

What’s it like inside?

The interiors of all Kia Stinger 20th Anniversary models come trimmed in striking red leather with tasteful splashes of carbon fibre. Those are the only meaningful differences between our tester and regular Stinger GTs (there are unique wheel designs and badging, too.) That suits us just fine, because Kia has proven that it can construct cockpits which compete with the best and when we drove it previously there wasn’t anything we found lacking or executed poorly. The only area we noted that showed signs of faltering was in Kia’s usually excellent UVO infotainment system. We caught it napping on occasion when we asked for navigation or to toggle throughout our pre-set radio stations, but nothing unforgivable (cough, cough, Land Rover’s InControl system.) We found ourselves especially fond of the perfect driving position and comfortable seats that hold you snugly in place when it’s time to dance, and that the driving assist technologies that aren’t half-baked and work in a manner that is not overbearing in the slightest.

What’s it like to drive?

Once you get used the dismal outward visibility that isn’t done any favors by the elephant leg A-pillars, the Stinger is still as joyful to drive as we remember. The mission hasn’t changed- this is car that will do OK on a track but is much happier unwinding your favourite strip of twisty tarmac or acting as its namesake would suggest, eating up vast quantities of kilometres at speed and in comfort The engine and transmission know each other well enough to complete sentences for one another and the impressive power is effortlessly usable and always at the ready. Some people will find the Stinger GT downright fast, and it’s hard to argue with that logic when you have a car that sprints from naught to 100km/h in under five seconds. The last time we drove the Stinger was at the beginning of summer, and this time we got to try it out at the beginning of a Canadian winter. Shod with a great set of winter rubber and having all four contact patches at our disposal to get the power to the ground, we found the Stinger to be an absolute blast of a winter driving machine. And because the chassis is so capable and balanced we tried switching off all the stability driver aids and prodded the Stinger to let its back end swing out which it happily obliged in graceful, controllable acts of oversteer that never got old. Anyone who got to go for a spin during its too-brief stay in the Carpages Garage would without fail cast an impressive glance at the Stinger when we asked what they thought of their ride.

Why you should care:

There are rumblings- and this is not confirmed in any way by Kia- that the Stinger may be discontinued because of sluggish sales in the near future. We cannot fathom why this is, because there isn’t another choice that checks as many boxes as the Stinger does across the industry. Putting Korea’s answer to the Pony car (OK, one with four doors and no V8, but still) in your driveway will make for many rewarding journeys both sedate and amped up and you’ll be able to take your friends and their stuff along in comfort, too. Don’t forget that this is a car that is great at providing accessible fun throughout all four seasons. The only thing we pine for would be to try out a strictly rear-wheel drive example (something you pretty much never see plying the roads around these parts) but there is a limited volume GTS model that can be had in the U.S. that will allow you to disconnect the front axle from the drivetrain so you can indulge all your lurid drift fantasies at your of parking favorite lot. Don’t relegate the Stinger to that rather sad corner of car manufacturer history where they actually build something that everyone loves but no one buys- who knows, you may have the most buzzworthy car at your local Cars and Coffee in a decade or two. Even with a few years under its belt with minimal changes, the Kia Stinger is still a very cool car that deserves your consideration.

2019 Kia Stinger GT 20th Anniversary– Specifications

  • Price as tested: $51,495
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger Sports Sedan
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Engine:  3.3 litre twin-turbo V6, DOHC, 24 valves
  • Horsepower:  365 @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 376 @ 1,300 rpm
  • Curb weight: 1,899 kg (4,187 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 12.3L/100km (19 mpg)