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Subtle design updates and modern equipment upgrades improve an already stellar Kia Stinger to deliver continued value and delight.

23 Apr 2021


When the Kia Stinger was first unleashed on the world back in 2017, it caused a mighty stir. The promise of sharp design, upscale interior, dynamic handling and ample power sent through the rear wheels? That's what you typically expect from German brands. Kia promised (and mostly delivered) all that, without the requisite German pricetag.

It was a real bargain, all things considered.

Now, the car has been treated to a light update. Does it still stand out as a performance bargain? We give the 2.0 GT Line model a spin (we'll get around to the more headline-grabbing 3.3-litre V6 soon).

What's changed?

There is a new rear light signature that runs across the entire width of the car
To be fair, the list of changes that Kia has made to its self-described 'Improved Stinger' isn't that extensive.

On the outside, you get reworked head lights and a new daytime running light signature. The change at the rear is more obvious - there is now a continuous light bar that runs across the entire rear of the car. 

The interior is largely unchanged, at least design-wise. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Back when it was first launched, the Stinger impressed by delivering a level of quality that far surpassed what you'd normally expect for its class. In 2021, many competitor brands have definitely stepped out, so while the Stinger is still solid, it's not quite as impressive now.

That said, the Stinger still packs tons of equipment. Ventilated seats, head-up display, smart power tailgate, wireless smartphone charging, sunroof, it's really quite comprehensive.

The car supports both wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto
You do get some new equipment, though. This includes wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto capability accessed via a 8.0-inch touchscreen, improved ambient lighting and a steering wheel with some new controls on it.

Those new steering mounted buttons are linked to the most significant update on the Stinger - new safety systems.

The Stinger now comes equipped with a plethora of safety and assistance systems, including Smart Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist, Forward-Collision-Avoidance Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. We found features like the Surround View Monitor (which gives you a top-down view of the car's surroundings) and the Blind-spot View Monitor (a camera feed on the dashboard of the respective blind-spot when you indicate left or right) particularly helpful.

Any extra power?

The Stinger impresses with its on-road dynamism and refinement
Powering this variant is a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, which is unchanged. Power is a sensible and respectable 244bhp and 353Nm of torque, allowing the Stinger to go from 0-100km/h in just six seconds.

Where the Stinger continues to impress is its on-road capabilities. Driven lightly, it's comfortable, smooth and easy-going. Push it a little harder and it's actually rewarding - the chassis is balanced, the steering accurate and reasonably communicative, and the car drives with more dynamic oomph than you'd expect from a Kia.

Indeed, at its $213,999 price point (as of 22 April 2021), this is one of the most enjoyable cars to drive, as far as overall dynamism and mechanical refinement goes.

Wait, $213,999?? 

New safety systems, such as the useful Blind-spot View Monitor, have raised the overall price of the car
A key part of the Stinger's appeal is the sheer value - German quality engineering and drive without the German pricetag. Back when it was launched, this 2.0-litre variant of the Stinger was priced under $170,000, which represented incredibly good value. You were getting a lot of car for your money.

Due to the significant increase in COE premiums, the updated Stinger is now a $214k car, which is a much harder number to swallow. It certainly doesn’t sound like the bargain that it used to be.

However, there is a need to factor in the relative change in COE prices. Compared to April 2018 when we drove the pre-facelift Stinger, the Cat B COE premium has gone up a whopping $23,500 (Cat B COE is now at a six-year high). Additionally, the Stinger is now in VES Band C2 (it was in C1 previously), and the change in the VES surcharges means that it now faces an additional $10,000 surcharge ($15,000 come 1 July). 

The Stinger is still good value, delivering a lot of car for the money, but it's not quite the bargain it used to be
Taken together, the increase in COE premium and VES surcharge amount to about $34k of the Stinger's roughly $44k price increase. 

Once you factor all that in, this facelifted Stinger is approximately $10k more expensive than before, owing to the additional equipment and features (not that surprising for a facelift). Most of the additional cost has little to do with actual changes to the car itself. 

Admittedly, it's not quite the bargain it used to be. But that doesn't take anything away from what the car is - a thoroughly well-designed, well-executed sport sedan that delivers quality, competency and dynamic refinement that reaches well beyond expectations. 

The Stinger is still good value, all things considered.

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Car Information

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Price

: $215,999

Engine Type

:

Theta II T-GDI

Engine Cap

:

1998cc

Horsepower

:

180kW (241 bhp) / 6200 rpm

Torque

:

353 Nm / 3500 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

6sec

Top Speed

:

240km/h

Fuel consumption

:

12 km/L

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