The Kia Stinger ignites passionate debate like few other cars we’ve driven at CarAdvice. With a big engine up front, loads of space in the middle and power going to the rear, there was no shortage of hype.
As soon as it arrived in Australia, we knew we wanted to buy one. Here it is, resplendent in Hichroma Red.
Think of this as a rolling logbook, a little window into life with the cars in the CarAdvice stable. You’ll find the most recent entries at the top, and the older instalments at the bottom.
Expect to see monthly updates from here on out. They might be longer, more in-depth breakdowns of specific trips, or sentence-long snapshots of foibles that have popped up.
Let us know if you have questions about the cars and we’ll try to answer them. Most of all, enjoy!
- 2017 Kia Stinger 330Si
- Purchase date: October 2017
- Price paid: $60,985
- Odometer (06/03/18): 11,300km
- Interval: 10,000km (car submitted at 11,168)
- Cost: $252.00
- Date: 28/02/2018
- Anomalies: None… but there are still some rattles
Uh oh, something’s broken. Along with the squeaks and rattles starting to crop up, pieces of plastic have started popping off our Stinger’s interior.
James: I ran into a slight quality niggle today when driving around the inner suburbs of Melbourne. A piece of plastic that covers the wiring for the rain sensor behind the rear-view mirror suddenly flew off while the vehicle was in motion – for no apparent reason.
Also, despite the service a few weeks ago, there are a few rattles and squeaks starting to be heard again when going over the lumps and bumps of Melbourne’s roads. For a $55,000 vehicle, it’s a little disappointing.
As a big, powerful rear-drive liftback, the Stinger has the right foundations to be a great GT. James Wong put those foundations to the test on a road trip, and came back impressed.
James: I managed to nab the Stinger for the weekend and did quite a bit of driving in it. Over two days, I covered over 450km mainly on the highway, and the car’s long-distance comfort continues to amaze me.
Even at 110km/h on the freeway, the twin-turbo V6 barely ticks over 1750rpm in eighth gear, yet it still responds so quickly and brutally when you need to make a quick overtake.
Another highlight is the front seats, which are super comfortable over longer journeys thanks to their plentiful back and thigh support.
The cabin is also well suppressed from the outside world, even on rougher sections of country highways. Very little road and wind noise enters the cabin, meaning you can still maintain a normal conversation without having to shout.
It rides beautifully too. I just love driving it and taking my friends and family.
We know the Stinger is great to drive, and we know it’s making plenty of power. How’s it holding up mechanically, though? Our first proper service provided some answers, with a few frustrating outcomes. Here’s a look at what was wrong, what was right and what still needs fixing.
Melissa: Our red Stinger has hit a milestone: 10,000km. It’s actually just ticked over 11,000km – don’t tell anyone, okay?
There were a few issues going into the service. Rattles in the boot and driver’s door have popped up during our time, and a small parking scrape required a bit of touch-up paint. Beyond that, it was business as usual.
The service advisor provided great customer service, explained the costs involved and kept us updated on how long the car was needed. As it turned out, it was an overnight trip – the rattles proved hard to pin down. The rattle in the boot was sorted, the one in the door has proven more persistent.
A follow-up visit may be required to tackle that one, because it’s absolutely maddening.
Along with the service, our Stinger gained a set of floor mats and a bottle of red touch-up paint. There’s no exhaust yet, but that’s still coming as well.
The final point to note? Our car went in with white numberplate surrounds and came back with black ones. We didn’t ask for the change, but the new surrounds look better than the originals, so the sneaky swap is forgiven.
Total cost? $252.00.
Mike: There’s a lot to be said for effortless power, isn’t there? My daily driver is a naturally aspirated, 2.5-litre 2008 Subaru Liberty wagon. It’s a manual, bless the thing, but with 127kW and 226Nm in its day and surely a lot less now (should I get it tested? Not sure I want to know the answer), it’s not exactly overcome with gusto.
So, when the boss (my actual boss, not our CEO Andrew Beecher) informed me we’d be heading away down to Phillip Island for a few days, I knew I’d want to cruise in something with a little more oomph. And a little more space. And some newer tech, both on the safety and connectivity fronts.
Nabbing the Stinger for a few days, I loaded the family and far more things than we needed into the liftback’s boot. It might be tough to make out from this shot, but there’s quite a lot in there, along with one of the rear seats folded down for a little extra carrying capacity (we still had just one kid at the time, conveniently – my wallet is agreeing furiously with that statement).
Cargo space is pretty good, and the liftback design helps both with capacity and loading clearance. Of course, as a wagon guy, I could’ve done with just a little more…
Lastly, I loaded in the lady and the little boy and off we went. Loping down towards The Island, the Stinger showed its strengths well. Although not loaded to the brim, it was still fairly full-up on people and holiday gear, yet it poured through roundabouts and accelerated out quite nicely. That’s not to say I was ‘maniacking’, as meine Liebe tends to describe my style of driving (she exaggerates), but it’s clear enough what the big liftback is capable of even as a family hauler.
Overall comfort is good, with a decent amount of ‘kick room’ in the rear for our harnessed toddler. Certainly welcome, considering he’s usually the source of an unexpected and violent back massage in our smaller Liberty… Likewise, the long-distance (well, longish) drive down to The Island revealed nothing unwelcome about the shape and firmness of the seats in the front row, arriving at our mudbrick AirBnB retreat fairly relaxed and without aches.
Fuel use over the weekend was good, returning 11.3L/100km, which isn’t far off the 10.2 combined figure Kia claims.
The car has its shortcomings, of course. Some rattles and creaks have appeared in the brief time we’ve owned this car, and while we’ve all had a pretty thorough go of the thing now, none of us is harsh with it. So we’ll have to see how that all goes at service time.
Another niggle for me is that putting the car into reverse can be misleading. It’s as though the shifter sometimes stops at neutral, and you don’t notice until you’ve tapped the accelerator and the car hasn’t moved. So it’s another whack of the lever before it engages the gear, and off you go. It’s not consistent, and it might be something about the way I’m doing it, but still. Odd stuff.
Looking forward to some more time with our big red rocket.
James: Bright and early on a Friday morning, I dropped the Stinger off for its 3000km/three-month check-up at South Melbourne Kia.
I was taken care of by the service manager, Aaron, who was friendly, attentive, and made sure I grabbed a coffee while I waited.
In addition to the routine service work, I asked the team to have a look at the driver’s door, which had developed a rattle that has become quite annoying, frankly.
My guess was it had something to do with whatever holds the window in place, and the service technicians quickly got to work dismantling the driver’s door to try and find the problem, as the photos show. They also had no objections to me observing the process.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t narrow it down on the day due to time constraints, but they were more than happy for us to reschedule a time for them to spend more time in the vehicle and try to diagnose the issue.
The Stinger was also returned washed and vacuumed. Lovely!
Paul: The guys at Chasers in Melbourne were kind enough to allow us to test the Stinger for an idea about how much power it was making at the rear wheels.
Kia quotes 272kW of power at the flywheel. After subtracting around 20 per cent for automatic gearbox efficiency losses, we were expecting to see around 220kW at the rear treads.
During the first run on the dyno, the guys noticed some surging and an inconsistent power curve. After a quick look under the bonnet, they noticed a small hose that was sitting loose.
They traced the hose to a boost line from the intercooler pipe before the throttle body to the solenoid. The hose was short enough to get loose during engine movement moments. The hose was replaced and we put the car back on the dyno.
This time around power went from under 200kW at the wheels to 242kW at the wheels, a huge improvement. We left Chasers afterwards and it felt like a new car.
It looks like the hose disconnected after the track day, and it was enough to make the car perform dramatically differently. That’s now solved and it is truly quick. We want to line up another track day at Phillip Island to see whether we can feel the difference with the replaced hose.
Get the full rundown here.
Paul: After a brief running-in period, we submitted the Stinger to a track day at Phillip Island. One thing we noticed during testing with the media vehicle was how badly the Continental tyres deteriorated when we switched stability control off and started having some fun.
The tyres held up fine at Phillip Island, so it may have been a dodgy set that was attached to the press car. Our experience at Phillip Island wasn’t entirely positive from the car’s point of view though.
The gearbox began hitting the limiter in second and third gears – despite the gearbox normally shifting on its own any other time.
We also found it hard to pass other cars coming on to the front straight. With a boot full of throttle, cars like the Audi S3 and BMW 330i would pull away comfortably. The car didn’t feel anywhere near as quick as the press car we had previously.
This aside, the brakes held up well even after three or four full laps of the track, and the handling was en pointe with limited body roll and excellent communication through the steering wheel and chassis. We came away from the track day a bit disappointed.
The following week we discovered the reason the car wasn’t feeling great.
It’s big, rear-wheel drive and powerful. It isn’t packing a V8, but Kia has essentially nailed the brief for the perfect Australian sedan. Does it live up to the considerable hype? There was only one way to find out.
Paul: As something of an unofficial, spiritual successor to the rear-drive Commodore, the Kia Stinger melts our website every time we talk about it.
It’s an important car for the South Korean brand, because it signals an entry into a segment it hasn’t really competed in: large, rear-drive performance sedans.
So we thought we’d buy one – a 2018 Kia Stinger 330Si. We ordered our car shortly after Australian details were announced and patiently awaited its delivery through Kia South Melbourne.
As an introduction, this post is longer than most. Check it out here.