What's the used Kia Stinger saloon like?
Some people thrive on the unexpected; that frisson of excitement that comes with discovering that all is not as you thought it should be. Such people will like the Kia Stinger, a sharply styled, large and handsomely equipped rear-wheel-drive sporting grand tourer made by a South Korean firm once upon a time known for their solid but uninspiring hatchbacks and SUVs.
The Stinger sat above the Optima saloon in Kia's range, so its targets were the slightly more opulent five-door coupés that sat in the next price bracket up, such as the contemporary 2016-onwards Audi A5 Sportback and 2014-2022 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé. That's brave: any car taking on the full might of the German motor industry is going to have to cut the mustard both in the showroom and on the road, whether bought new or used.
The Stinger starts by being available with three engines: a 242bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, a 197bhp 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel and a 361bhp 3.3-litre V6 petrol in the super-sporty GT S model. From 2021 onwards, only the GT S was offered.
The basic trim level is called GT-Line, and it comes with a vast number of toys; everything from heated electric front seats (with a memory function for the driver's seat) and full leather seat trim to a head-up display, adaptive cruise control and keyless entry. GT-Line S adds a 360deg camera, LED headlights, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a powered tailgate, a sunroof, wireless smartphone charging and a 15-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system. The top model, the GT S, comes with even more goodies, including uprated Brembo brakes, adaptive dampers and nappa leather seat trim.
Out on the open road, it’s fair to say that some versions of the Stinger impress, even in such exalted company. The 2.0-litre petrol feels sluggish at low revs but is brisk enough when you rev it hard, although it sounds rather bland. Still, that’s better than the 2.2 diesel, which sends vibrations through the controls at around 1500rpm and becomes crass and boomy as you progress further up its rev range. Things do settle down on the motorway, but not by much.
The best version is the exciting 3.3-litre GT S. It’s effortlessly quick, with the 0-62mph sprint being completed in just 4.7sec, and it can waft its way up to a supercar-rivalling top speed of 168mph. It’s smooth and responsive, and it sounds great, too. This is an extremely potent and relaxing long-distance cruiser, with all that power going through the same slick eight-speed automatic gearbox used by other variants of the Stinger.
Approach a corner and the Stinger won’t let you down. Its steering is precise and accurate, while body roll is well suppressed. There’s plenty of grip, especially in the GT S, and the car's rear-wheel drive handling is nicely balanced and extremely entertaining. The ride quality is good, too; only over jagged surfaces does the Stinger get a tad jiggly.
Inside, the driving position is spot-on. There’s plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel and you sit low, so it immediately feels sporty. The Stinger may be a long car, but visibility isn’t a problem, and it has front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera as standard.
The dashboard is functional and logically laid out. The switches and buttons all feel good and quality is impressive, with soft-touch plastics and some faux-leather surroundings adding to the pleasing overall effect.
Up front, there’s plenty of space for a taller driver and front passenger, while those in the rear get good leg room but, if they’re tall, slightly limited head room. Blame the swoopy styling. In fairness, it’s no worse than it is in many other five-door coupés.
The Stinger's boot, meanwhile, is a very good size, accessed through a good-sized hatchback opening, and the rear seats fold flat to leave a large extended load area.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Kia Stinger saloon?
The Stinger is a long and low and wide car, so check the bodywork for any scuffs or dents picked up in multi-storey car parks or on urban shopping expeditions.
It’s vital to make sure your Stinger has always been serviced according to the service schedule, otherwise that handsome seven-year manufacturer's warranty might not become void.
What are the most common problems with a used Kia Stinger saloon?
Reported problems with the Stinger are few, so far, with most relating to non-engine electrics, and most models in the Kia range have a good reputation for reliability.
There have, however, been two recalls to note:
The electrical circuit within the HECU may experience a short circuit condition that results in excessive current.
On the affected vehicle, a blocked fuel pump nozzle may lead to a loss of power.
Check that both of these recalls have been attended to by asking your local Kia dealer.
Is a used Kia Stinger saloon reliable?
The Stinger finished in 17th place out of 26 cars in the executive car class in our most recent What Car? Reliability Survey. Kia as a brand finished in seventh place out of 32 manufacturers.
What used Kia Stinger saloon will I get for my budget?
Around £16,000 should get you into the driver’s seat of a 2018 2.2-litre diesel-engined Stinger, this for a low mileage car with a full history bought from a franchised dealer. Up your spending to between £18,000 and £23,000 and you’ll have your choice of Stingers from 2018 and 2019. You can choose a diesel, a 2.0-litre petrol or even a 3.3 V6 GT S for around £26,000. Spend between £26,000 and £38,000 on a later GT S car. These will have a low mileage and a full history and be bought from a franchised Kia dealer.
How much does it cost to run a Kia Stinger saloon?
On paper, the 2.2-litre diesel is the most economical, with an official average fuel consumption figure of 48.7mpg under the older NEDC tests or 40.9mpg under the newer, more realistic WLTP tests, and corresponding CO2 emissions of 154g/km. The 2.0-litre petrol returns 35.8mpg (31.7mpg WLTP) and 181g/km, by the same judging, while the GT S gives an official average of 28.5mpg NEDC or 27.7mpg under the WLTP and CO2 emissions of 225g/km.
All Stingers will be registered after the tax changes of 1 April 2017 came into force, meaning that they'll be charged annual road tax at the current flat rate, which stands at £165 a year. None of them incurs the additional fee applied to cars that cost over £40,000 when new, because even a GT S model with optional metallic paint is just under this threshold when you take off the first year's road tax and initial registration fee. To find out more about the current road tax costs, click here.
Insurance costs are reasonable, with groups ranging from 34 to 41 for the GT S. Servicing is required every six months or 6000 miles for petrol models, while diesels can go for 10,000 miles or one year. It’s worth looking to see if the previous owner has taken out Kia’s Care-3 or Care-5 servicing package, because this covers the first three or five years of servicing for a fixed price.
All Kia cars come with a class-leading fully transferable seven-year warranty from new. Used Kias under 20 months old bought under the firm's approved used scheme benefit from a policy that backs the warranty up to a full seven years.
Which used Kia Stinger saloon should I buy?
The 2.0-litre petrol isn't without its charms, but it’s a little slow. The 2.2 diesel is too gruff but makes the most sense for those who cover big miles. The 3.3-litre V6 GT S, however, is superb: fast, smooth and great fun to drive.
If you're going for either the 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2-litre diesel, the standard GT-Line has all the equipment you could possibly need and more. The GT S, meanwhile, comes fully loaded and want for no extras.
Our favourite Kia Stinger: 3.3 T-GDi GT S
What alternatives should I consider to a used Kia Stinger saloon?
The Volkswagen Arteon comes with a range of strong engines, has generous standard equipment and a huge amount of interior space. Used its prices are broadly competitive with the Stinger, and, as with the Audi, its diesel engines are smoother.
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