The 2018 Kia Stinger is available with a 255-horsepower four-cylinder engine or a 365-horsepower V6. On all models, rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2018 Kia Stinger is available with a 255-horsepower four-cylinder engine or a 365-horsepower V6. On all models, rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional. (Manufacturer photo)

Kia gets gutsy with the all-new Stinger five-door fastback

Styling and performance matches premium brands, but Stinger’s pricing beats them.

I’m sure many motorists gaping at my red-hot sports sedan were surprised to see the Kia logo, but automotive enthusiasts who follow the industry could quickly ID it as the all-new Stinger.

The 2018 Kia Stinger is a five-door fastback that evolved from the Kia GT concept car first displayed at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. Bringing it into production was a gutsy move on Kia’s part.

Stinger’s intention is to compete with premium performance cars including the Audi A5, BMW 4 Series and 6 Series, and the Lexus GS – a goal that will cause “lulz” from diehard Audi, BMW and Lexus fans. But what Stinger brings to the potluck, at a much lower price, could give those cars a run for their money.

Stinger’s delicious design is undeniably competitive within this group, and in a couple of cases (I won’t name names) the Stinger outshines.

Practicality is also part of the equation. Stinger has four doors and a rear liftgate, providing roomy seating for five and 23.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats in upright position. With the seats folded, cargo space expands to 40.9 cubic feet.

The 2018 Stinger is the highest-performance Kia production vehicle ever, which the diehards mentioned above might say is like being the world’s biggest bonsai. But let’s look at some numbers:

Stinger’s standard twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and has a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. The optional 3.3-liter V6 has 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. It does the 0-to-60 thing in 4.7 seconds, something that Kia enjoys pointing out is quicker than the base six-cylinder Porsche Panamera5.

The 2018 Kia Stinger is available in five different trim levels: Stinger (the base model), Premium, GT, GT1 and GT2.

The base Stinger and the Premium come with the four-cylinder engine and the three GTs have the V6. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board, and there is no manual available. On all models, rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional. Drive modes include Eco, Smart, Comfort, Sport and Custom.

My tester was a rear-drive GT2. The absolute fierceness of its V6 couldn’t thoroughly be discovered during a week of driving on public roads around Puget Sound, especially considering my abiding fear of imprisonment. And anyway, Kia describes the Stinger as “a true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving,” and says “it is not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace.”

Well then, I actually did experience Stinger’s essence because that’s the exact impression it gave me.

Standard features on the tester included everything you’d expect on a car setting out to give premium brands some serious competition.

Stinger pricing starts at $32,800 including a $900 destination charge. The tester’s fuel economy rating is 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined.

2018 KIA STINGER GT2 RWD V6

Base price, including destination charge: $50,100

Price as driven: $50,100

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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