First Drive: Kia Stinger 2.0 GDi

01st March 2018
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

There are few four-door executive saloons that seat four adults comfortably, have a large boot and are any fun to drive these days. Yet at the time of writing, the Kia Stinger 3.0-litre V6 (described by Kia as a grand tourer) is shortlisted for European Car of the Year, still the most prestigious global car award out there.


This, from the company that has brought us dull but competent South Korean SUVs and MPVs for years… can they really cut it against the likes of the BMW 430i or the Audi A5 or even the VW Arteon?

The answer seems to be a resounding yes. The V6 was fun, fun, fun and now Kia has brought out the 2.0-litre version, the 2.0 T-GDi, for about £32,000, which makes it an even more tempting proposition on paper, from a finance and fuel point of view, but what about the performance? 

Turns out, the 2.0 is a spritely, joyous thing, with revs spouting power to the rear wheels like a burst water pipe in the snow.

The Stinger’s looks are in the eye of the beholder: we like the crunched face, fastback silhouette and the squared-off back reminds us of a Mustang from the side. Inside, it’s still a bit plasticky but Kia has made an effort with brushed switches up front, a heads-up display, reversing camera and nine-speaker system with sub-woofer (Kia/Hyundai’s bog-standard sound system has always been one of the best in the business), and that all comes with the standard specification (there’s an up-specced GT-Line S but why bother when the standard one is this generous?).


There is copious room in the back for two 6ft 6in adults, which comes as a surprise in such a sporty model. The 2.0-litre engine gives out 244bhp, mated to an eight-speed auto box, driving the rear wheels. The UK suffers an 8bhp reduction due to right-hand drive affecting the catalysts, but not to worry, because that 244bhp is plenty enough for spirited driving. The chassis feels sure-footed, precise and well crafted, soaking up mid-corner jolts, undeterred from its line. There’s fully independent suspension and Kia’s put a lot of time into the ventilated brakes (the 3.0 gets Brembos) and all models have a limited-slip differential. 

Such is the instant power delivery from the four-cylinder that, on the down-changes, the concurrent rise in revs produces a noticeable upwards blip in power; steady as she goes. Imagine calling any Kia lairy in times past. No, I thought not. But this is. And it’s rewarding and fun. Strange times.

The Numbers

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol

Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

PS/Nm: 247/353

0-60mph: 5.8sec

Top speed: 149mph

Price from: £31,995

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