UNLESS you’ve been hiding under a rock, you will know Kia has delivered its promised rear-wheel-drive performance sedan, in two engine configurations, a 200 series 2.0-litre turbo, and the giant killing 3.3-litre twin turbo Stinger 330 model range.
With the keys to the base model 200 S in our hand, we dived into the adventure playground that is Sydney peak hour traffic, and were immediately impressed by the performance.
The 2.0-litre turbo power plant produces impressive numbers, and the torque starts quite early in the rev range, 353Nm from 1,400 to 4,000 rpm, with 183kW of power, maxing out at 6,200rpm.
The Continuous Variable Valve Technology (CVVT) petrol engine provides the driver a plentiful and easy to access get up and go, while the 8-speed gearbox delivers the power evenly through normal driving conditions.
It’s very good for a reasonably large sedan in terms of fuel economy, with freeway driving giving us the best figures of 6.6-litres/100km in comfort drive mode, while through heavy Sydney traffic we averaged 12.6-litres/100km.
Our all time favourite steering wheel toys, the paddle shifters, are here too, and allow a more precise management of gear changes, giving you the opportunity to participate in some more entertaining driving.
We did have what we’d call a moment in the Stinger 200 S, standing on the accelerator and waiting for the gearbox to search for a lower gear while pushing out of a corner – hanging in the associated lag while the boost caught up.
The sudden burst of power, well let’s just call it interesting, and tell you we were on Old Pacific Highway near the NSW Central Coast. For the uninitiated, it’s a long and windy road built into the side of several mountains.
That said, the steering is incredibly precise, and the grip from the factory fitted Continental tyres, is second to none. We pushed the Stinger through a number of scenarios, including freeway driving and Sydney peak hour, and it always felt good.
The car, in all situations, was very comfortable, with the only slight downside being the suspension, with the chassis feeling every bump in the road, and transmitting back to the driver, never jarring, but it was there.
Through the winding coastal roads we drove it on, the body roll was noticeable and potentially the suspension could do with a little stiffening. We also found the flipper gear changes a lot of fun, but again, the car was too quick to return to full auto.
On our one extra long trip, of more than 2.5 hours, there was no driver discomfort and we arrived fresh, with none of the usual stiffness associated with a longish drive, which was super impressive.
Another small negative comes in the form of overall positioning. We worked very hard to find the perfect driving position, to get the seating and the steering wheel just right, only to find we couldn’t see the turn indicator lights in the dash.
The only other downside is the rear visibility, thanks to the fastback styling of the 2018 Kia Stinger 200 S. This was mitigated to a degree with the large side mirrors and reversing camera, and the rear parking sensors performed well too.
The Stinger 200 S is a very sexy looking car, with great kerb appeal. It’s probably the first real chance has to bury the ‘brand’ of old for Kia because not only does it look good, it’s fast, sporty, sophisticated and stylish.
It has a real European feel to it, especially with the large scoops on the front bumper, air ports on the bonnet and the slick fastback finish. The whole package works to make the car draw a lot of second glances.
Inside, the leather finish and simple minimalist interior layout are the first things you notice. It’s immediately comfortable, the seating wraps around you, and the 8-way electric adjustment ensures you can find the right spot to sit.
Everything is within easy reach and fairly self-explanatory, the things you need while driving are right there and most everything else is available through the various interfaces, either on the touch screen display or from the steering wheel.
The 2018 Kia Stinger 200 S comes with the bells and whistles one expects in large sedans, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, digital radio, and an easy to use infotainment system.
Driver and passenger comfort is very nicely done too, with room to spare for all, and the backseats providing ample head room and leg space for adults, despite the sloping fastback roof line. While not quite a luxury finish inside it is pretty close.
After all, it is the base model. Throughout the car though, Kia has put a lot of thought into the little things that can make a difference, from the high quality courtesy lighting, both internal and external, to the cup holders and small storage.
The split seats in the rear expand the luggage storage, however the temporary spare is probably not the best for our Aussie roads and something we aren’t big fans of here at Exhaust Notes Australia.
The base model 200 S is the first of three 2.0-litre turbo models, with the 200 Si and 200 GT-Line above it. It is the baby brother to the 3.3-litre twin turbo range, available as the 330 S, 330 Si and the GT.
As you progress through the models, added extras include a larger infotainment screen and dash information display, sun roof, more speakers, and extra safety technology; from rear park assist and camera, through to the GT with 360-degree camera, autonomous emergency braking, lane assist and frontal collision warning.
The safety equipment includes a full complement of air bags, electronic brake distribution, brake assist, and a traction control system. Autonomous emergency braking is included (only in models built after March 2018).
It would be remiss of us to not mention that the base model Kia Stinger launched last December with a 3-star ANCAP safety rating. From March 2018, this vehicle now has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
The 2018 Kia Stinger 200 S hits the road at $46,990 (plus on-roads). It comes with a 7-year warranty and fixed price servicing. It is available in Panthera Metal, Silky Silver, Ceramic Silver, Sunset Yellow, Hichroma Red, Micro Blue and Deep Chroma Blue.
All we can say is put aside your preconceived notion that Kia don’t build amazing cars. The Kia Stinger is well worth considering as a large sedan. It ticks all the boxes for comfort and performance, and is priced for the market.
Our road test vehicle was provided by Kia Australia. To find out more about the Kia Stinger 200 S, contact your local Kia dealer.