We recently tested the Kia Stinger GT2 V6 and came away massively impressed. Mildly refreshed and featuring a 368-horsepower twin turbo V6 that loves to sing at high rpms, it was a thrill ride. But we also knew that the more affordable 4-cylinder turbo model was getting even bigger changes – how does going from a 255-hp 2.0-liter to a 300 hp, 2.5-liter sound? Sounds like a reason for a road test!
For those Stinger lovers on a budget, the first thing you should know is that the 4-cylinder GT-Line is almost impossible to tell from the much more expensive V6 GT. Both models got a re-fresh for 2022, with new full LED lights around the familiar Tiger Nose grille. The new KIA logo looks especially stylish.
The 5-door hatchback’s profile is very Audi-like – well, Kia Head Peter Schreyer was a key designer at Audi previously. You didn’t think he’d forget all his great ideas, did you? Like the V6, the GT-Line rolls on new design 19-inch alloys that fill out the wheel wells. Okay, there are no expensive Brembo calipers poking through like on the V6, but most will never get close enough to notice.
The rear end is just as stylish, and we had a few people say it reminded them of the Porsche Panamera – not bad company for the Kia! New LED taillights span the rear for slick look, while the scripted Stinger logo and massive four tailpipes have loads of wow factor.
The final wow for us was our tester’s Ascot Green paint – a deep mineral green that looked very unusual and very expensive. Perhaps that’s why many thought it was a Porsche.
Simple and Stylish
Inside, is the same European vibe we noticed on our GT V6. Okay, you don’t get the V6’s Nappa leather, but the standard leather is quite nice. You have the same comfortable front seats, adult-sized rear seats, and a handy hatchback that gives you plenty of storage space with the rear seats flipped down.
The rest of the interior is the same as the higher-buck model, with clean, simple analog gauges including an 8,000-rpm tach and 180-mph speedo, three Benz-like round center vents, easy-to-decipher controls, and a handsome 10.25-inch touchscreen display. Standard tech is quite good, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there’s wireless charging, too.
Kia’s UVO system is excellent as well, with a quick handshake, and our WAZE looked great on the big touchscreen display.
A few things are different from the GT. Instead of the V6’s mouse-like shifter, there’s a more traditional lever, which is fine. Some of the V6’s aluminum trim is replaced with black gloss plastic, but it looks good, and the soft-touch materials which felt classy on the V6 feel even more impressive on the less expensive GT-Line.
Big Four Turbo Power!
The big news for 2022 is under the Stinger’s hood. Last year, if you didn’t pony up for the V6, you got a 255 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo with 260 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s actually quite competitive in the marketplace, but Kia pulled a rabbit out it’s hat with a new 2.5-liter, turbo 4-cylinder that lives in other Hyundai/Kia products. The new numbers – 300 horsepower and 311 lb.-ft of torque are enough to get enthusiast’s juices flowing. All this and the bigger engine actually improves fuel economy, up to 32 mpg highway. Win-win.
And you can definitely feel the power. Working through an 8-speed automatic, the Sting jumps to 60 mph in just over 5 seconds, and in Sport Mode it snaps off the shifts aggressively. Maybe a bit too aggressively for around town driving, to be fair. We cruised in Smart Mode and found it nearly as responsive, but more mellow for every day. Smart, indeed.
While it is a throaty sounding 4, there’s a bit of coarseness at high rpm, and it doesn’t thrill you to run to the redline. It does push you back in your seat, and you do get grins, but it just doesn’t sing like its V6 big brother. That engine will put goosebumps on you.
Handling is the same rear-wheel drive (AWD is an option) chassis that has superb steering feel and lovely tuned ride, and an appetite for curving roads – you’ll have to go after more expensive German cars to get this kind of experience. Top of the line Accords and Camry’s are nice, but front wheel drive just falls short of the experience of a well-tuned rear wheel drive.
Kia continues the feel-good fest with an impressive suite of assistance tech they call Drivewise. Goodies include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian, Bicyclist and Junction Turning Assist, Blind Spot and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Lane Keep and Departure Assist – even Safe Exit Warning that can alert the driver or passengers opening their door not to exit the vehicle when the system detects approaching traffic.
Let’s run the numbers. The GT-Line RWD starts at $36,090. Our tester had the Sun & Sound Package, which adds Harman Kardon Premium Audio, a massive sunroof, and a power adjustable front passenger seat, for $2,300. Add in carpet floor mats, a cargo mat, and $1,045 for Destination, and we rang the bell at $39,715. And you also have that nice 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty – on a turbo that can be money in the bank.
For reference, our V6 Stinger rang a much higher bell at $53,100. So, on bang for the buck, the GT-Line slays the V6. But they really do compete at different levels.
We’d stack the GT-Line Inbetween the Camry TRD at 34,970, and the Avalon TRD at $45,840. Both serve up great performance for the buck. But you won’t be getting that classic rear wheel drive. In that case, a BMW 330i is probably on target, but you get into nosebleed territory, with even a modestly-equipped model coming in at $43,000.
High-end style, new muscular performance and loads of features makes the 2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line a performance bargain. We love it!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.