After driving the Stinger GT, the two models that sit below the flagship were always going to be on a hiding to nothing. From the summit, there’s really only one way to go.
In GT form, the Stinger is as complete as a grand tourer can be for the spend. Along with the drivetrain, the GT packs the appointments to deliver a premium rivalling experience that justifies the dosh.
When equipped with the V6 engine, the Stinger is a car appealing to enthusiasts. To ensure as many lovers of rear wheel drive as possible can access the car, Kia offers a trio of six-cylinder Stingers.
Opening the range is the 330S (pictured above in Ceramic Grey), while technically this is the entry-level V6, it’s a harsh descriptor for a car that’s loaded with kit.
330S models are equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, faux leather trim, keyless entry, push-button start, powered driver’s seat, rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning and a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Moving to the mid-range 330Si (Silky Silver) adds 19-inch alloys, front parking sensors, leather seats, rain-sensing wipers and a larger 8.0-inch infotainment system with nine-speakers, up from six in the 330S.
All Stinger variants now carry a five-star ANCAP safety rating since the inclusion of autonomous emergency braking across the range. The 330S takes things a step further with a driver attention alert and adaptive cruise control. That said, the most comprehensive safety package is reserved for the GT.
Pricing presents some food for thought, the 330S costs $49,990 (all prices before on-road costs), while the 330Si leaps to $55,990.
Deploying the same engine tune across all models means buyers at the entry-point aren’t penalised. Regardless of trim, the turbocharged V6 develops 272kW and 510Nm, it’s mated to an eight-speed automatic with paddles.
Also standardised across all V6 models is a mechanical limited slip differential, Brembo brakes and launch control.
Careful analysis would suggest the 330Si doesn’t offer enough to command a $6000 premium. Externally, there are very few visual differences between the two models we are reviewing here, of course, trainspotters may feel differently.
It’s a similar story on the inside, there are only some minor points of differentiation. Firstly, the seat trim, the artificial leather in the 330S has a quality feel, so much so, most buyers would struggle to tell the difference in a blind test which makes the genuine hide in the 330Si redundant.
The 330S is only weighed down by the piano black centre console and the slightly smaller infotainment screen. The idea of shiny black surfaces in new cars should be stamped - never again! These finishes age quickly and are impossible to properly maintain. The centre console in the 330Si is covered in a carbon-fibre looking finish which looks considerably more upmarket.
One lousy inch makes a significant difference to the floating infotainment screen, at first glance the screen in the 330Si looks markedly larger which places another tick in the ‘size matters’ column of an age-old argument.
Before clocking up too many miles we again need to mention the locally developed bimodal exhaust ($2660). If you are chasing refinement above all else, the Stinger in standard guise will fit the bill. However, without the exhaust upgrade, the Stinger is too civilised for our liking, the extra noise provides that little bit of mongrel to unlock all of its character.
On the road, both the 330S and 330Si are enjoyable to drive and easily deliver a high level of driver engagement and satisfaction. The throttle response is superb and it sure is fast enough.
Like most new models from Kia, these cars are refined to the point higher priced premium rivals are officially on notice.
Where these two models differ from the GT is the suspension. The GT gets electronically-adjustable dampers whereas the models on test here utilise passive dampers. The steel springs do a better than expected job, especially during tight turns.
The passive damper set-up isn't as accomplished across the breadth of surfaces and driving situations as the GT’s fancier electronic units.
To close the spread between the 330S and GT, the 330Si gets wider rear tyres, however, the difference in the ride and handling when driven back-to-back with the 330S prove the measure to be a negligible one.
What diminishes the driving experience is the ever-present electronic nanny that intervenes to change gears when using the paddle shifters. While we understand it’s there to protect us from ourselves, it’s annoying nonetheless. This is only likely to bother owners looking to extract every drop of the Stinger’s available performance.
After week-long tests in each Stinger, the 330S covered 708km and returned a combined consumption figure of 9.2L/100km while the 330Si returned 9.5L/100km after adding 780km to its odometer. Both results bettered the claimed figure, however, our assessment was slanted towards highway driving. Being a grand tourer, the open road is where it should be. It should be noted, every Stinger will happily run on 91RON fuel.
Kia remains the only volume selling mainstreamer to offer a seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty, seven years of roadside assistance, along with seven years of capped-price servicing, which can be transferred to subsequent owners.
Maintenance is required every 12 months/10,000km with costs under the capped-price structure averaging $487 for each visit back to the dealer.
Having now driven all three V6 Stinger variants, we can confidently strike a line through the 330Si. The Goldilocks model doesn’t quite deliver the ‘just right’ that’s required of a mid-range model. The 330Si is only $4000 shy of the GT which is money well spent in our opinion.
Those chasing value should make a beeline for the 330S, it’s extremely well equipped for the money and it delivers a driving experience to soothe even the most pedantic enthusiast.
If you are fortunate enough to have some additional discretionary dollars, it’s the GT that mounts the most compelling case for Stinger ownership.
2018 Kia Stinger 330S and 330Si Specifications
Price from $49,990 330S, $55,990 330Si plus on-road costs Engine 3.3-litre turbocharged V6 petrol Power 272kW @ 6000rpm Torque 510Nm @ 1300-4500rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 10.2L/100km Tank Capacity 60L Performance 0-100 4.9 seconds Length 4830mm Width 1870mm Height 1400mm Wheelbase 2905mm Turning Circle 11.2m Tare Weight 1780kg Service Intervals 12 months/10,000km Warranty seven year/unlimited kilometre
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