I have written of my fondness for Kia’s vehicles on more than one occasion here at SonnyDickson.com, so my expectations were pretty high when I slid behind the wheel of the 2020 Kia Stinger GT Carbon Edition.
The Carbon Edition is a limited run model sitting at the top of the Stinger range next to the Night Sky Edition. Think of the Carbon Edition as more sporty and spirited and the Night Sky Edition as luxurious, soft and supple – but still very much a Stinger.
I’m switching it up a bit with this review starting from the outside. This is where the exclusive features of the Kia Stinger GT Carbon Edition are most evident. I also think the Kia Stinger is one of the most handsome saloon cars on Australian roads today.
Finished in Micro Blue, I think this is one of the best colours that Kia offers on the Stinger. The contrast from the very impressive red 4 piston Brembo brakes tucked inside the 19″ wheels somehow works better on this car than on some of its European competitors.
The carbon features of the Carbon Edition are subtle yet effective. There’s no pointless wings or small aero devices that just get in the way and do absolutely nothing below 80km/h. The additions on this Kia are there to make every drive just a little more enjoyable – whether it’s ducking to the shops or a lovely GT cruise over the Great Dividing Range.
Carbon Fibre has been adorned to the door mirrors, the surround on the nose, two strips on the aggressively styled bonnet, the side vents and the rear diffuser. That’s all you need.
I think the styling of the Stinger is one of its strongest characteristics. The balance between the wheelbase and the overhang at the front and rear is almost perfect. The other styling and engineering cue that I think is perfect on the Stinger GT is the front and rear track – with the wheels at very much the outer edge of the body minimising any overhang.
The rear diffuser and the four tail-pipes are another of the visual charms of the Stinger that I absolutely love. The carbon fibre surrounds just make it all better.
On the inside, the Carbon Edition swaps the lovely full leather steering wheel for a very tactile Alcantara wheel with paddle shifters and that distinctive flat edge at the bottom.
Audio, telephone and cruise control buttons are easily accessible for your thumbs leaving you to keep your eyes on the road and the tingle up your spine. For the cooler months, the steering wheel is heated.
The seating position on the Kia Stinger GT is low without being cumbersome and the height of the transmission tunnel gives a great feeling of being cocooned in a vehicle that’s swift, safe, and sumptuous.
Another feature of the Carbon Edition is a small plaque on the beautifully made brushed aluminium cover for the USB and 12V sockets as well as the Qi standard Wireless Charging pad.
Sitting atop of the Stinger range, the Carbon Edition also gets 8-way electrically adjustable seats with lumbar support for both driver and front passenger. These very comfortable seats also feature three-stage heating and cooling.
The 15 speaker Harman/Kardon sound system with integrated 8″ touch screen and Apple Car Play and Android Auto are the perfect companion for those times you slip out for a drive on your own.
With the Kia Stinger being a lift-back the expectation is that the rear hear-room is more compromised than it actually is. The designers have been very efficient with the ergonomics to ensure someone standing 185cm tall will be snug, but not uncomfortable in the back seats.
The boot on the Stinger is very generous and the low lip from the lift-back means loading and unloading of pretty much everything is easy – including a full set of golf clubs.
This is where I think the Stinger claims more ‘scalps’ than it is given credit for.
The 3.3 litre V6 24 valve turbocharged motor is mated to an 8-speed shift by wire transmission that in-turn puts the 272kW of power and 510Nm of torque to the road via the rear wheels. The results are impressive and very effective.
As has been the case in Sydney over recent months, the heavens opened a couple of days after we took photos of the Stinger GT Carbon Edition. The very slippery conditions didn’t phase the Stinger at all. The Michelin Pilot Sport rubber (255×40 at the rear and 235×35 at the front) provides great feedback and grip when needed. Only an occasional bark from the rear and a strobing of the traction control light in the instrument cluster provided any evidence of exceeding the traction limits when properly tested. The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) in the Stinger GT is another safety feature that seems to have been tuned for some slip, but not so much that you get yourself into trouble.
The electronic power steering is excellent around town and due to the variable gear ratios, the feel for the road at highway and motorway speeds is very precise.
Getting the most from the Stinger GT Carbon Edition means making use of the five driving modes via the Drive Mode Select capability. Smart, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Custom all do pretty much what they say – although, for a sedan that is almost five metres long and weighs 1.78 tonnes, the Sport setting should just read Uncomfortable. Yes, by selecting Sport mode the steering becomes far more agile and the kidney bolsters on the driver’s seat tighten up. However, the ride on city streets and on all but the newest tarmac is so harsh it will make any passenger with motion sickness feel very poorly, very quickly. I found taking the time to tweak the Custom settings just so, was the best compromise for a great driving experience and less physical harm for your passengers.
Those four-piston Brembo brakes that I mentioned earlier are brilliant even after a very punishing descent down a twisty mountain on an unseasonably warm day. The braking balance (EBD) between the front and rear wheels in the Stinger GT Carbon Edition is exceptional given the weight distribution and the grip from those Michelin Pilot Sports when put under considerable lateral loads in variable-camber, sweeping corners.
The colour head-up display in the GT line is another great feature that helps keep your attention where it should be. Speed sign recognition as well as lane departure and navigation instructions are clear and well laid out.
At night, the full LED headlights illuminate the road ahead very well and the high-beam in particular throws light a long way down the road. I’m not a huge fan of the steering assisted headlights as they often draw your eye away from the road on tighter corners – still they are a great feature, it would be great to be able to turn the Dynamic Bending Light (DBL) feature on/off as required.
I’m not sure that for a tick over $68,000 you’re going to find anything as good looking, well built, or as enjoyable to live with every day. If you do – buy it!
The Kia Stinger GT Carbon Edition in Micro Blue is currently $68,190 drive-away.
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