The Kia Stinger GT is a Lot More Than Just a Pretty Fascia – It’s Fearless. #StingerIsHere

kia Stinger highway

The Kia Stinger is a lot more than just a Pretty Fascia

No one will disagree that the all new Stinger is a remarkably appealing vehicle. Even at its lowest trim level without custom add ons now available at time of purchase or upgrades, it is undeniably striking. Cars are built for a lot more than sitting still and looking pretty though. The 2018 Kia Stinger GT is so much more than its exterior. It’s precise and powerful and at a price accessible to everyone. What I love most about this addition to the Kia line up is that they aren’t attempting to create a new story but additional chapters to the existing one. The thing is where you’ve been ALWAYS plays a part in who you are today. For many of us that means we’re stronger, wiser, and more capable than in previous years. It gives us confidence. It makes us fearless. The Kia Stinger doesn’t negate the road that Kia traveled in the years preceding. It just offers a new layer of depth and makes the miles ahead a lot more exciting.

2018 Kia Stinger

What happens on the inside is just as important, if not more so, than what is shown on the outside. During the course of a few days in California, hosted by Kia Motors North America, I had the opportunity to really get to know the Stinger and put its capabilities to the test. After being thoroughly impressed getting to drift at SEMA a few weeks ago, I kinda already knew what I was getting into but this time I would get to drive distance as well.


We were hosted at The Garland hotel which if you have the opportunity to visit, you’ll find bathed in hues of orange, warm woods, and plenty of retro vibes. If you are looking to do a little Hollywood sightseeing, you definitely don’t have to go far from property. Located only a couple blocks away is the exterior of the famed Brady Bunch house. I took a short walk with friends before dinner to catch a quick glimpse myself and of course, take a selfie or 7.

Brady Bunch House

That evening we dined under the stars in the courtyard at The Garland with a menu theme based on the movies and stars of yesteryear. The Godfather offered an Italian selection while Jaws encircled the seafood, The French Connection… well you get the idea. After dinner, we played a few groovy games in the hospitality suite and listened to vinyls on record players courtesy of Harmon Kardon.

From the moment of its unveiling in Detroit, early this January, the Kia Stinger has been turning heads. All over the internet and in print people have commented on how well designed it is. Those within the company have held an air of confidence from the very beginning knowing how well it would perform. The thing is, Kia has been designing more than just “pretty cars” for quite some time now. The K900, the Cadenza, and the Optima all hold their own in the line up and in recognition. J.D Power has ranked Kia #1 in initial quality for two straight years. Consumer Reports lists them as top 3 in reliability and in the top 6 best car brands in the market. They have been the ONLY non-premium brand to earn three APEAL awards( J.D.Power).

What’s wrong with being “pretty”?

Nothing is wrong with being “pretty”, “hot”, or “sexy”. To me, it’s just not the most meaningful part about well, anything or anyone. Reducing something to mere aesthetics alone will always initially overlook the more powerful capabilities, potential, and personal story. Looking beyond the surface will ensure you get the whole picture and Kia is no exception. Their story has been one with plenty of ups and downs. It has been thrilling one to follow and personally be part of for the past several years. The way the Stinger GT plays into their story is perhaps the most intriguing part of all for me.

So, what’s the story?

Kia Stinger GT Magic Mountain

In a few sentences or less, The Kia Motors story holds all the elements of a classic heroic story-line. A brand underdog that with time and determination has risen to the top, quite literally. Knowing it takes a team to win, they carefully curated a dynamic team, leading in design, performance, and engineering. From concept to showroom, they were able to develop something that nobody could say no to.

The Kia Stinger GT doesn’t negate the road that Kia traveled in the years preceding. It just offers a new layer of depth and makes the miles ahead a lot more exciting.

Kia Stinger GT

It’s Fearless

There was once a time in my life where I cared what other people said. I carefully considered who was watching and behaved according to what I though their perceptions might be. The problem with this is that you limit yourself and your potential to your past accomplishments or mistakes. One day all that faded away. I began to move forward not even thinking about who may be watching. I don’t know that there was this defining moment that shifted things either. Shifts like that typically happen in a series of events or over time. It didn’t mean I behaved in ways that were reckless or less than thoughtful- I was just finally free to be who I was. I’ve never considered “fearless” an attribute I posses but actually that’s exactly what I’m describing here and I think it’s the place Kia has arrived at too.

During our last laps on the auto-cross course Kia had set up, JB, Eden and I took the Stinger out for a little “Confidence Training”. There was a smoke, squealing tires and a lot of laughter after holding our breath for 30-40 seconds at a time while we trusted the driving abilities of each other behind the wheel. This is something I would never have attempted without permission but I am so glad we did it! In those moments, it wasn’t about showing off, as most of the group had already left for the rest of the scenic drive portion. It wasn’t about proving anything. It was just a drive experience where you could be confident in the skills and capabilities you already have access to in a vehicle that was equally as capable. It was about experiencing life without holding back and living to your fullest potential.

It was about living life fearlessly.

What’s next? Where do we go from here?

As exciting as it was to experience the Stinger in this way, the majority of us don’t have time for drifting and smoking tires during our daily commute. Most of us just want to escape the daily grind. This is the beauty of the gran turismo. An authentic gran turismo means long distance, high-speed, safe driving, and high-speed stability. The Stinger is designed for all of that and more.

2018 Stinger

“A true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving, is not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace,” notes Gregory Guillaume, chief designer, Kia Motors Europe. “The Stinger has nothing to do with being the first to arrive at the destination – this car is all about the journey.  It’s about passion.”

Have you ever wanted to just pack a bag, get in the car and drive? This is the car for that. It’s designed for miles and miles of road and scenery. We’ve all said “one day I’d like to go…..” Don’t wait for one day. Make one day today. Find that place and take in something new. Find the places that feel right and once you get there consider staying an extra day or two. Bring a friend. There is plenty of room for their luggage too (or drone equipment depending on who you bring…. looking at you Yarby).

But wait…. what will this cost?

If I’ve sold you on performance, design and dreams, you’ve probably still got questions. I mean, we’ve all got day jobs and grocery runs after all. What exactly is this going to cost? Probably a lot less than you may be thinking.

This is where the Kia Stinger still shines and makes the most sense. An area where Kia has always excelled: affordability. Offered in five trim levels – Stinger, Stinger Premium, GT, GT1, and GT2:

  • Stinger starts at $31,900
  • Stinger Premium starts at $37,100
  • GT starts at $38,350
  • GT1 starts at $43,250
  • GT2 starts at $49,200
  • All-wheel drive:  $2,200
  • Destination: $900

“The Stinger is a prime example of Kia’s commitment to surpassing consumers’ expectations in everything we do,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, KMA. “Although the Stinger is unlike any other Kia that has come before it in terms of pure driving enjoyment, it is still very much a traditional Kia in that it offers consumers a very compelling value proposition, providing excellent performance and handling, premium features and functionality when compared to its much higher-priced competitors.”

All in all this is definitely a car worth taking a look at and taking a long drive in. Stop into your local dealership and see for yourself. Fair warning, you are going to want to take this one home.

 

SEMA 2017 : Kia Stinger Style

SEMA 2017 Kia Stinger StyleYou know the reaction that most people have if you ask them about going to Disneyland? That’s the same reaction I had when Kia asked me to attend SEMA with them for the unveiling of TWO custom designed Stingers. Not only would I have the opportunity to see them I would have the opportunity to actually get behind the wheel myself AND do a little drifting with a professional driver. This is what automotive dreams are made of y’all. I was 100% all in.

SEMA IS my Disneyland. Growing up in the Midwest, our small family of four took a lot of day trips and even more long Sunday drives than I could ever count but we took only one true family vacation together. A single day at Disneyland and a single day at Knott’s Berry Farm, saddled next to an automotive conference for my father’s business. To this day I can still recall how the excitement over what would be revealed at the show was built up with slightly more enthusiasm than the visit to Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

Curiosity Keeps Leading Us Down New Paths

Whether your heart dreams of magic castles or the magic that can be found in a paint booth, the common ground these two venues, companies, creators, and attendees all have is best summed up by this quote from Walt Disney himself:

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

It’s this curiosity that binds us together. The curiosity to build something better. Something faster. Something more compelling that connects the story of creator and consumer. Each year the companies and creatives work around the clock, creating something spectacular to reveal. Each year SEMA draws a crowd bigger than the last curious to see whats been done whats been created.  In this world it is where the artists and dreamers really shine and since there’s simply no city that shines brighter than Las Vegas, here we are.

SEMA Kia Stinger Style

Kia  has been working relentlessly to elevate their design and product for years. In a sense the Stinger is the embodiment of that vision before us. It’s a monumental offering to add to the brand’s line up. So they weren’t playing when they partnered with West Coast Customs to bring an amazing amount of style to this years SEMA show.

SEMA Kia Stinger GT wide body rear plate

 

Kia Stinger GT Federation

SEMA Kia Stinger GT Federation

SEMA Kia Stinger GT Federation front view

SEMA Kia Stinger GT Federation front

SEMA Kia Stinger GT Federation rear

Kia unveiled the Stinger GT Federation in a color aptly coined “Performance Orange”. It is a uniquely modified Stinger outfitted with parts and accessories from leading aftermarket suppliers. The Stinger GT Federation reveal followed the announcement celebrating the offering of high-performance aftermarket parts available for purchase in conjunction with the Stinger launch. The exterior body accent kits include a rear spoiler, rear diffuser and redesigned hood vent. A K&N cold-air intake and a low-restriction quad-tipped Borla exhaust help the Stinger breathe more freely and are designed to pump an additional 15 horsepower through the twin-turbo 3.3-liter engine, bringing the vehicle’s horsepower to an estimated 3806. Eibach springs, thicker antiroll bars and a reduced ride height aim to offer a more spirited driving experience, while aggressive staggered 20-inch TSW wheels shod with Falken tires round out the Stinger GT Federation’s visual and technical achievements.

Kia Stinger GT Wide Body

SEMA Kia Stinger GT wide body West Coast customs

SEMA Kia Stinger GT Wide Body interior

The Stinger GT Wide Body is a specially modified work of art by legendary West Coast Customs. Unveiled in beautiful pearl metallic blue took the Stinger GT to a whole new level of stunning. “Taking inspiration from the racing GT cars of the 1970s, this modern interpretation seamlessly blends tire accommodating wide fenders with the Stinger’s already narrow waist. Riding on a suspension that’s been lowered 1.4-inches up front and 1.2-inches in the rear, the Stinger GT Wide Body rides on 21-inch Keen forged wheels wrapped with high-performance tires. A lightweight carbon fiber aero kit and rear diffuser will keep the Stinger firmly planted at high-speed, while the quad-port exhaust tips proclaim that this is no typical sports machine. Inside the driver-centric cockpit, the Stinger GT Wide Body includes custom blue leather seat piping, a distinct hand-stitched gray leather dash panel, alcantara-wrapped steering wheel as well as gloss black center console trim.”

Drifting in the Kia Stinger

SEMA 2017 Kia Stinger Style

At this point, no one could deny that this is a pretty car. It’s designed and crafted to be more than just looks though. Honestly, to comment on the aesthetics alone would be slightly insulting but if we’re really being honest there are those who are still trying to reconcile the name badge with the performance level that this car is touting. Maybe that’s fair… we all have to prove ourselves from time to time and when you are confident in your abilities it’s fun to show off a little too.

The opportunity for Kia to show what the Stinger is capable of came just outside the convention center floor. In the Gold Lot outside, Kia provided an exclusive opportunity for us to get behind the wheel for ourselves and do a little drifting with a professional driver in the all-new Kia Stinger. Words alone just cant do it justice. Here’s a few video clips of our experience:

It was truly an incredible Vegas experience and my ride in the Stinger was definitely faster than the Dumbo ride at Disneyland. I had a few more foodie adventures and an evening with Sir Elton while I was in Vegas that I want to share with you soon. Before that I’ll be heading out to Hollywood to spend a little more quality time with the Stinger and see how it handles on the streets of California. Stay Tuned I have so many stories to share with you.

Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation. My host for this adventure was Kia Motors America as part of the #StingerExperience #KiaSEMA