Straight to the point: 365 horsepower packed into a light frame with an 8-speed automatic transmission computer tuned, but with paddle shifters in order to take the reins on all those ponies by yourself. Brembo brakes when you pull those reins back.
The 2019 Kia Stinger GTS from Grand West Kia is not the car you might expect.
Getting me the keys for this week’s Test Drive, Grand West Kia’s Aric Hartman was jealous of my Test Drive this week.
I could tell that he was a fan of the GTS. He explained, with the enthusiasm of someone that’s read about it more than once. He explained about the rear-balanced AWD system, pardon me, the Dynamic All-Wheel Drive system.
Matched with the driving mode change and the matched (and new D-AWD systems) limited slip differential, the car is meant to stay glued to the road.
That is, of course, unless you don’t want it to.
The 2019 Kia Stinger GTS has a “Drift” mode. It shouldn’t be in quotes, but I wanted to emphasize it.
That is, in the words of my friends and work colleagues, “like Tokyo Drift?” referring to the 2006 Fast and the Furious movie.
It’s an all-wheel drive car that’s meant for drifting.
According to Hartman, the ‘S’ in GTS, stands for “Slide.”
My first thought was: that sounds like a *BEEP* ton of fun. My second thought was: Are you nuts? Don’t do that unless you’re on a track, and you’re not going to be on a track.
I’m certain it would have been a fantastic story had I Tokyo (or Seoul) drifted up Land’s End. But, it also might have had a not-so-great ending, and it’s awfully hard to type that way.
No, the better, but less interesting, angels of my nature kept me in control of the rear end of the Stinger.
That isn’t to say I didn’t have quite a bit of fun. Like a lot of fun. Like I let out a couple of whoops.
But, and my mother would be proud of me, it was careful fun.
Let’s start outside. The Stinger GTS is a special edition. Primarily the difference is cosmetic, but it has one core change: the D-AWD system and the related drive mode switch.
Mostly, the drive mode controls gearing and efficiency. Most Kias with the Drive Mode system have three modes. The Stinger has 5. The basic modes are Eco which tunes gearing and fuel for maximizing efficiency and mileage. Comfort for basic city driving, and sport for highway-oriented performance.
The Stinger also offers “Smart” mode, which uses the above modes to automatically adapt and anticipate your driving style. It shows up on the gauge panel as a shifting bar that drifts from Eco to Comfort to Sport as you accelerate and/or use the steering wheel. It also adapts to road conditions to maximize control and balance it with comfort.
And then it has a custom mode to allow drivers to adjust suspension, throttle, steering to their own preferences.
Sort of a ‘choose your own ride’ experience.
I wish I’d had enough time to really play with custom mode, but frankly, I was having too much fun with just the Comfort and the Sport modes.
Mostly the Sport mode. The Stinger, even without drifting, is an exciting car to drive. MotorWeek gave it the Drivers’ Choice Awards “Best of the Year” last year. It certainly made my week. Accelerating, it makes an engaging rumble, and can push you into your seat with the slightest touch of the pedal. If I can judge a car by how much restraint I had to apply, I can put this one being forced to sit still during that boring concert I went to as a 4-year old kid. Or maybe under the same amount of restraint as my dog would have to be if he were to calmly receive me and a plate of roast beef and gravy after I haven’t seen him for a week.
Still, I did have a chance to let it out. Kia rates the Stinger at somewhere around 0-60 in 4.7 seconds or so. I can tell you that is definitely in the neighborhood. With a clear, empty road fore and aft, I tried to match that.
As I learned during a performance driving lesson, sure, accelerating is fun, but stopping is right up there (and even a bit more important for those boring angels again).
The hefty Brembo brakes on the Stinger were almost like those hooks and cables on aircraft carriers, whipping the Stinger to a stop and leaving it quiet and far more still than you’d expect. In short, it was a blast.
Alas, it’s not a blast meant for me, but for some lucky soul that visits Grand West Kia. Only about 800 of these GTS models are going to be made, meaning it’s already a collector’s item.
I should point out that the interior is tactile, simple and attractive, and, most important of all, I fit. At 6’10”, this is a rare feature in performance cars, and speaks to the size and comfort of the Stinger.
There’s only one of these orange beauties on the lot at Grand West Kia, and it’s worth checking out, even just to see it (it’s a gorgeous vehicle inside and out). If your inner voice said Drift? It has a drift mode? THAT’s *BLEEP* AWESOME! Then definitely swing by, on the Highway on Orchard Mesa, west of the fairgrounds, to see it. And maybe drift it home.