When the Kia Stinger made its debut a couple years ago, Kia said it was ushering in a new dynamic era for Kia Motors. With its fast back styling, the Stinger was aiming its sights squarely on 4 door coupes from European companies such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes. To keep things exciting for 2019, KIA has introduced a new GTS trim for the Stinger. The Stinger GTS made its debut at the 2019 New York International Auto Show and only 800 will be made. That means this KIA, in this trim, is as rare as some exotics. If you prefer watching over reading, you can watch our video review here.
The most significant change with the GTS is the updated AWD system. Kia has added what they are calling D-AWD. It allows for up to 100 percent of the power to be sent to the rear wheels and adds a mechanical LSD to the rear axle, which was previously only available on RWD models. In that regard, you can think of D-AWD as Drift-AWD. However, the one we tested was not AWD but old fashioned RWD. Or, as I like to think of it, permanent drift mode. Even without the fancy AWD system, the GTS trim comes with some features that are worth mentioning.
The first and most obvious new feature that is exclusive to the Stinger GTS, is the Federation premium orange paint. Yes, it’s bright and the only color you can get if you want the GTS trim.
Regardless of color, the overall design is aging well and people will certainly take a second look. The GTS sits between the GT and GT1 in the Stinger lineup and gets all of the GT upgrades. The front has Kia’s familiar Tiger Nose grill with shiny metallic looking accents. The GTS trim adds genuine carbon fiber bits to the front grill, mirror caps, and side fender vents. The side fender vents are functional. The same can’t be said for the vents on the hood. GTS vehicles replace the rear KIA badge for the word STINGER.
The wheels are 19-inches and wrapped in Michelin rubber and stopping is done with Brembo brakes. The Stinger GTS comes with LED daytime running lights, auto on and off dual lens LED headlights, and LED turn signals. The rear also gets full LED lighting for the brake lamps and turn signals.
Like all Stingers the GTS is a hatchback, which means it has plenty of cargo space. With the seats up, it has 23.3 cubic feet of space. When the seats are folded down, the space increases to 40.9 cubic feet. That is plenty of space for most storage needs.
Just as orange is the only exterior color you can get, black is the only interior color you can get on the GTS. It is also missing some luxury features that are not options, such as surround view monitor, KIA’s 10.25” display, and smart cruise control with stop and go. To be fair, Kia isn’t promoting the Stinger GTS as a luxury car, but more as a car for buyers looking for performance and unique style. The interior of the Stinger GTS is still well appointed. There is plenty of aluminum trim, leather, and soft touch materials.
The center console has KIA’s 8-inch touch display with voice command and navigation. The system supports Android Auto and Apple Car Play. The system is good on its own. However, it’s hard to ignore the fact that KIA has a better system, with a larger screen, that isn’t available with the GTS. A Harman Kardon premium audio system comes standard. It has 720 watts and 15 speakers. The speakers have a spiral design that further adds to the interior’s upscale look. The dual zone climate control maintains a fresh interior with smart ventilation and I like the big round vents with center adjustment knobs.
The seats are well bolstered for sporty driving. The driver gets a 12-way power adjustable seat with 4-way lumbar support. The passenger gets an 8-way adjustable seat with 2-way power lumbar support. Both the driver and passenger seats are heated. The steering wheel is wrapped in alcantara, which is unique to the Stinger GTS and helps provide better grip for sporty driving. There is also alcantara on the center armrest, exclusive to the GTS.
The Stinger GTS has the same amount of quality in the rear, with leather and soft touch materials. Rear passengers also get their own climate control vents.
In terms of connectivity, the Stinger has a 12 V outlet, an auxiliary port, a USB port, and a space for wireless phone charging up front. In the rear there are USB and 12 V connectivity ports.
The Stinger GTS doesn’t get KIA’s full suite of safety features but it does have blind spot collision warning. There’s also a reverse camera to assist with parking.
The Stinger GTS comes with a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 that makes 365 horsepower and 376 lb ft of torque between 1,300 – 4,500 rpm. When driving the Stinger GTS, the car proved to have good balance and grip. The acceleration was strong, with very little turbo-lag and the engine note was aggressive. Drive select modes allow you to choose between smart, eco, comfort, sport, or custom.
At this price point the Stinger is fairly dominate. European cars that would compete with the Stinger GTS are under powered or overpriced. The GTS trim injects a bit of excitement into the Stinger without sacrificing what has made it a fun contribution to Kia’s lineup. Some might find the single-minded options list unappealing but if you like being unique, sporty driving, and don’t want to sacrifice practicality, the Stinger GTS, especially at $46,000, just may be the car for you.
All photos courtesy of Kia Motors media.