There’s a reasonably frugal diesel model but for outright pace you’ll want the turbocharged 3.3-litre V6 – it’s seriously quick, but also seriously thirsty
You can get the Stinger with one diesel and two petrol engines – all of which drive the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. This is reasonably smooth and doesn’t jerk at slow speeds like the twin-clutch DSG gearbox available in some A5 Sportback diesels, but it’s not as responsive as the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe’s automatic.
If you do lots of city driving you’ll want to pick a 2.0-litre petrol model. It’s not just cheaper to buy than the diesel, it’s quieter at low speeds and a touch more frugal around town. Sure, this four-cylinder unit isn’t quite as smooth as the larger V6 petrol but it’s still more than quick enough to keep up with fast-moving motorway traffic. Unfortunately, it’ll struggle to match the diesel’s fuel economy out on the open road – Kia claims it’ll return 35.8mpg but you’ll have to tread very lightly on the accelerator if you want to break the 30mpg barrier.
As a result, the 2.2-litre diesel will be much more suitable if you do plenty of motorway miles. It’ll cost you around £2,200 more to buy than the entry-level petrol but it’ll return around 45mpg compared to Kia’s claimed 50.4mpg figure.
Unfortunately, this increased fuel economy comes at the expense of performance – 2.2-litre models take 1.6-seconds longer to accelerate from 0-62mph than the cheaper petrol version and they rattle and growl more than a comparable Audi or BMW when you pull out to pass slow-moving cars.
Top-spec GTS cars are sportier than any Kia deserves to be – they’ll even tear from 0-62mph faster than some Porsches
If it’s a sporty four-door car you’re looking for, then the 3.3-litre V6 Stinger GTS is the model to go for. It doesn’t just get sportier bumpers, bigger alloy wheels and four exhausts – under the bonnet there’s a twin-turbo V6 engine that’ll power it from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds. That’s faster than a Porsche Boxster sports car.
Sure, it can’t hold a candle to the diesel in terms of fuel economy but you won’t have much trouble matching Kia’s claimed (if rather modest) 26.6mpg fuel economy figure. If fuel costs are important to you, it’s worth considering that the posher Audi S5 Sportback can manage 10mpg more while a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe M440i hits a claimed 41.5mpg. Both models have similar performance to the Kia.
Its low-slung seating position and long bonnet might make you think the Stinger would be a pain to drive around town, but its fairly thin front pillars give you a good view out and (in comfort mode) light controls mean threading it down a tight back street won’t be too nerve-wracking. Sure, rear visibility is pretty poor but at least you get a clever 360-degree surround-view camera system in GT-Line S and GTS trim to help make parallel parking a bit easier.
Speaking of GTS models, they’re the only Stingers to come with adaptive suspension as standard. It lets you choose between Comfort or Sport settings. The former helps take the edge off large bumps and potholes while the latter stops the car’s body from leaning too much in tight corners.
Unfortunately, even with this techy suspension fitted it doesn’t feel quite as poised as a 4 Series Gran Coupe. You can only get the Stinger with rear-wheel drive too, so it can’t leap out of bends as quickly as a four-wheel-drive A5 Sportback or give you the same stability on slippery winter roads.
If you’re feeling slightly less racy, the standard Stinger does a decent job cruising along at motorway speeds. Unfortunately you’ll hear a little more wind and tyre noise than in a Mercedes or BMW and imperfections in the road can send vibrations through the cabin in cars with large alloy wheels.
So it might not be quite as relaxing to drive on long journeys as these German cars but you can rest assured the Stinger will be just as safe. It earned an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in the strict 2017 testing regime thanks, in part, to its automatic emergency braking system. This’ll apply the brakes itself to help avoid low-speed collisions if it senses an obstacle in the road ahead.