2022 Kia Stinger GT2 V6 AWD promises plenty and delivers most of it

It’s amazing that the Kia Stinger even exists. It was a moonshot when it debuted and rumors had it dying for the 2022 model year instead of being refreshed. And here we are, thankful Kia is still selling a rear-wheel-drive (or AWD) hatchback-touting sedan that pays homage to the Audi A7/S7 while leaning heavily on its BMW-sourced inspiration. Mechanically similar to the Genesis G70, the Stinger’s elongated, hatchback design poses it to be an Audi A5 Sportback or A7 competitor, albeit at a much lower price point. The Kia Stinger is a unique proposition and a car unlike any other in its segment, and we spent a week with a fully loaded 2022 GT2 AWD V6 to see if it’s got the goods to back the punch-above-its-weight design.

The Stinger’s shape is immediately recognizable. Some elements are better than others, like the wraparound taillight lenses, and the grille is much better in person than in photos. The Stinger is an attractive vehicle, albeit a small one. At 190” nose-to-tail, it measures about the same length as a Toyota 4Runner. The Stinger doesn’t try to hide it, but it does try to do so with its driving dynamics. More on that later.

Inside the Stinger is a pleasant affair, both on the eyes and for the intended usage. The seats are comfortable with good adjustability and cushioning appropriately soft and hard in all the right places, though they’re likely tight at the waist for larger drivers due to aggressive bolstering down low but not towards the top. The headrests are pillow-soft, and the only ergonomic foibles are a pedal box that encroaches on your right foot a bit and a touchscreen that’s just a little further of a reach away than ideal.

The Stinger’s tech is good if a bit safe. CarPlay and Android Auto are included, and there’s a full suite of safety features that are expected for a high-trim 2022 model year car. The accent lighting that runs across the dashboard is a nice touch, if not a bit boy-racer, but it echoes the Stinger’s undertones. That you can change it to any color of your choosing is a cool party trick, but something we first saw in the 2005-era Ford Mustang GT. Still, if it’s good enough for Mercedes’ more expensive models, it’s good enough here.

The Stinger’s 3.3L twin-turbo V6 makes 368 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic sends power to all four wheels on our tester while RWD is standard, and there are meaty paddles for do-it-yourself shifting. The car weighs right around 4,000 pounds so the quoted 0-60 time is a mediocre 4.7 seconds. It’s not rip-roaring fast, but with AWD on board and healthy torque, the Stinger pulls hard out of corners and when accelerating up to highway speed. Power around town is impressive, and thanks to the weight and smoothness the Stinger always seems to be going a bit faster than you intended or expected. The engine and transmission help mask speed with ease.

A constant gripe with fake exhaust notes piped in through the speakers is that they’re just that. The Stinger’s is particularly strange, sounding more like a Subaru WRX flat-four than a twin-turbo V6. It’s welcome in Sport mode but might be too much for some. In Sport mode the actual exhaust makes decent noise; not particularly pleasing but decent sounding, and loud enough to know from the outside that this isn’t a run-of-the-mill sedan.

The Stinger’s steering is a mixed bag. In Sport mode it’s weighty, however, there isn’t much feedback or information transmitted through the wheel. You know roughly where the front tires are pointed and not much else. There’s a massive difference in the heft required to turn the wheel between the modes, and that’s appreciated. Still, the car feels better-suited to the less aggressive modes, allowing for a more relaxed grip on the wheel and less intensive care required for pointing the car in the right direction. Given the size and weight, we found light steering and Comfort suspension paired with aggressive throttle and transmission tuning is our go-to.

For the rough roads in Connecticut, I preferred Custom mode which allowed for the engine and transmission to be their sportiest, but the suspension and steering in their softest. This makes the Stinger a true Grand Tourer, easy where you want it to be and edgy for when your right foot desires. You can cover mileage quickly, even despite the 19” wheels causing a slightly crashy effect over bigger potholes and imperfections. We would happily road trip this cross-country.

The as-tested price for this particular GT2 AWD V6 was just shy of $56,000. That’s serious money, but it goes a long way here. Name a feature and the Stinger GT2 has it, and better yet it has a sporting mentality and chassis baked in. However, the standard GT1 starts at $43,890 and retains the performance goodies and physical goodness inherent to the Stinger’s shape. That would be our pick for how to buy one.

The Stinger is an interesting proposition. Hatchback versatility, unique styling, and strong power make for a vehicle unlike any other on the market. Even its Genesis G70 sibling is notably different. Where the Stinger excels is as a do-it-all tool, like an elongated VW GTI with wannabe-Audi A7 design language, RWD/AWD versatility, and sports-sedan influence all wrapped up in a car that’s still easy to daily drive or road trip. It’s a natural choice for someone who wants something rear-wheel-drive biased but that can still do it all. The Stinger isn’t particularly excellent at anything, but it’s genuinely good at a lot. Jack of all trades, master of none, and a car that we’re happy exists in the first place. It’ll be a shame when it goes away.

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11 responses to “2022 Kia Stinger GT2 V6 AWD promises plenty and delivers most of it”

  1. Zentropy Avatar

    Hey KIA, give the Stinger a manual transmission option, and we’ll talk. I’m interested in driving, not riding.

    1. smaglik Avatar

      10,000% agreed. I did not even go drive one when I was set on getting a new performance sedan. No manual, no interest.

    2. Tiller188 Avatar

      Big part of, if not THE, reason I now own a G70 and not a Stinger. The G70 is nicer inside and apparently drives a little better (I never test drove a Stinger), but I am a fan of that long hatchback shape, not to mention the much-improved rear seat room that came with it.

      1. outback_ute Avatar

        It’s surprising that they put the manual in the G70 and not the Stinger

        1. Tiller188 Avatar

          Yeah, I always thought that was a little odd; part of me wonders why they wouldn’t at least try a manual offering on the Stinger and see how it went.

          Then again, from the way reviewers have described the two cars, it seems like the Stinger was intended to be more of a grand tourer or practical option, and the G70 was meant to be more of the classic 3-series fighter. Cynically, too, I suspect that Hyundai/Kia knew that neither the G70 nor the Stinger were going to sell in any significant numbers with manuals, but they were trying to make a splash and get more press for their new upstart luxury brand, and offering a manual (especially when the Germans weren’t, at least not outside of the super-sporty trims like M cars) was a way to establish some brand cred. They’ve got the former head of the M division, they’ve got folks who previously worked for Lamborghini and Bentley, they’re cheaper than BMW or Audi, AND they offer a stick when the ultimate driving machine doesn’t? Not a bad pitch. And then, of course, having made the desired impression, they killed the stickshift model after the first couple years (even though the 2022 G70’s base engine is still the same one, and they already did all the engineering and design to have a completely different center tunnel, handbrake, etc. in the manual — kind of sad, really, to think that they apparently sold so few manuals that keeping that trim alive would presumably be more expensive than killing it, even taking into account that they probably still have some sunk costs from producing it in the first place).

  2. Ed Avatar

    368 HP, 4,000 lbs., 0-60 in 4.7 seconds. Solid pass.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      It’s a grand tourer, so the acceleration is fine in my opinion, and anything over 350 hp is plenty for tire-squealing fun. But 4000 lbs is a bit hefty for a sedan of that size. That’s nearly minivan territory.

  3. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    What is wrong with the world when a 190″ long car on a 114″ wheelbase is considered “small”?
    I am glad such a car exists, but I’m still a bit miffed that we didn’t get the Stinger we were promised.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I thank you for saying that, as I was vary my perception of reality was discarded as irrelevant – both about size, weight and hp numbers. On the other hand, if the Stinger had been a bigger success, alas not just a commentariat favourite, I suppose Kia could have greenlighted a two door version as hot as the above. Maybe they will show something similar on an EV chassis eventually.

    2. outback_ute Avatar

      Ross’ frame of reference needs to be recalibrated a bit? I mean perhaps the 0-60 in 4.7s being slow is relative to comparable cars, but the Stinger is larger than a Mustang.

  4. Tiller188 Avatar

    “…the quoted 0-60 time is a mediocre 4.7 seconds.” This really caught my eye. Man, how times have changed (no pun intended). Wasn’t so long ago that anything sub-6 seconds was remarkably quick, and something sub-5 was a rocket. I guess I’m struggling to keep up with the times (OK, that one was intentional).