SINCE its launch in 2017, the Kia Stinger has ruffled the feathers of its rivals, and has, some might say, set a new standard in its class and price range. Now this lone wolf stands, waiting for new rivals to challenge.
You see, the Stinger had one job, to take on the local Holden and Ford monopoly and win the hearts of performance minded folks. Okay, that’s two jobs, but with Holden a floating corpse and Ford offering no direct competitor, it’s a little light on for opponents.
Volkswagen’s latest iteration of the Arteon may shake things up a bit when it lands in Australia later this year, but for now, the Stinger will remain, essentially unchallenged. And no, we don’t really think Ford’s Mustang or the Subaru WRX are competitors either.
But onto the task at hand. For 2021, the Stinger GT has gained some subtle exterior design updates, interior technology inclusions and some more power. Not much more power, but every kilowatt counts right.
Externally, the Stinger now wears the new Kia logo front and rear, has retained the clever dynamic bending LED headlights, and wears some new 19-inch shoes. One of the best styling changes though is the new rear LED combination taillights.
A distinctive light signature now extends the width of the car, mimicking the subtle spoiler integrated into the boot lid. They haven’t stopped there, because if you look below the rear boot line, you will notice that there are four larger exhaust tips and a rear diffuser.
The new rear diffuser is a big one, because it now accentuates the stance of the Stinger. With our test vehicle draped in Neon Orange, we also noticed that the Stinger GT turns heads as you drive past.
It may be because it is an outlandish colour, but it also looks good. Rest assured you won’t lose it in a carpark.
Inside is where you will find more updates, and we have to say, Kia’s improved interior craftmanship and attention to detail oozes a strong feeling of quality and refinement. There are no more rattily plastic knobs and switches.
Kia has taken the Stinger to, dare we say it, German quality standards. You would almost mistake the interior for a Volkswagen or Audi. The standout upgrade for us is a spanking new 10.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
It’s vibrant and looks good, even in direct sunlight, as well as featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s plenty of addition stuff too, including the relaxing Sounds of Nature function, designed to help you chill out on long trips or when you’re stuck in traffic.
Satellite navigation and multi-connection Bluetooth also feature, meaning you can hook up multiple phones to the system. It’s clever stuff. The Harman/Kardon sound system packs a punch that you can feel in your back too. The clarity of the music is superb.
The interior ambience of the GT is pretty special, providing the ability to choose from 64 colours in the mood lamp (ambient lighting), to subtly alter the character of the cabin.
Being a four door saloon (with a lift-back), the Stinger is also good when cruising. It’s designed to carry four adults with ease, with shoulder space decent in the front and back.
The seats remain comfortable, providing heated and cooling for those in the front. If you have little ones, the tapered rear roof line could wreak havoc if you have a rear facing child seat in the back. It’s workable but you might need to fold your child in half.
Boot space is decent as well, thanks to to the wide opening.
For those that know, the Kia Stinger GT is a party animal, ready to get down and boogie at the drop of a hat. Kia has managed to squeeze an additional 2kW out of the 3.3-litre T-GDi twin turbo V6 engine too, now producing 274kW and 510Nm.
The additional 2kW is from the factory built standard bi-modal exhaust, and under full boogie, the exhaust note from the new quad-tips is music to the ears. There is most certainly enough grunt to have a lot of fun.
And for those that really want to see how feral this thing can get, proceed to a track, and disable the electronic stability control and traction control. Then hold on!
The engine isn’t solely responsible for its wild side either, with the silky smooth 8-speed auto playing a key role, as does the fact it’s rear-wheel drive, its adaptive dampers, and the excellent grip.
Steering is precise and quick, meaning drifts, some sideways action or connecting the dots through the twisties are all a part of the Stinger GT’s bag of tricks. We have to say, it would be nice to see the all-wheel drive version offered overseas though.
Kia has you covered for stopping power too, giving the Stinger (V6 variants) Brembo brakes as standard. The Brembo’s supply a terrific braking force and pedal feel when you need it. It’s not spit you out the windscreen good, but they are fantastic.
Safety is also high, with the GT grabbing AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, plus junction turning detection, adaptive cruise control with traffic follow assist, automatic steering assist with road edge detection, and rear occupant alert.
It also comes with blind spot detection, exit warning for passing traffic, and a smart key that can remotely start the car. Kia has continued to build the Stinger with each update, and for 2021, it certainly feels fresher, more contemporary and improved overall.
Don’t disregard the Stinger GT in the hunt for a fun, performance focused car. It’s seriously quick, and really will surprise you with just how capable it is. The 2021 Kia Stinger GT is available in eight colours and is priced from $63,960 (plus on-roads).
You can order a new Stinger direct from Kia via their website.
Our test vehicle were provided by Kia Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Kia Stinger GT, contact your local Kia dealer.