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Kia Stinger engine line-up explained

What makes the Kia Stinger such a surprisingly wonderful machine is far more than the fact that it’s become the most unexpected replacement for the big, rear-drive, roaring Aussie dinosaurs, nor its muscular styling.

Rear-wheel drive and a good chassis and steering combination are great places to start, but it’s the Kia Stinger engine that makes this the full excitement machine. We’re talking here about the Stinger 330 variant, of course, which is the version you’re looking for, and was rated a 9 out of 10 by CarsGuide tester Matt Campbell.

It’s not just that this 3.3-litre (hence the 330 designation) twin-turbocharged V6 is fast, it’s the way it goes about its business, and the joyful sounds it makes (no, it’s not a V8 but some great things of the past - like long arguments that couldn’t be solved by Google - aren’t coming back)

The 330’s specs are impressive, even without those extra two cylinders, making 272kW of power at an exciting 6000rpm and 510Nm of torque in a nice, flat and fat plateau from 1300rpm to 4500rpm. And it almost, just about sounds like a V8 if you really give it the berries.

Kia's 24-valve DOHC -  Double OverHead Cam - "Lambda II" (the Lambda began life as a 3.5-litre unit used to power cars like the Hyundai Santa Fe) engine has an official capacity of 3342cc, and the Korean brand promises it went through more than 160,000 kilometres of road testing and more than 480 laps of the famed Nürburgring in Germany while the Stinger was being developed. The Stinger's biggest engine also offers dual variable valve timing and direct injection.

The 3.3-litre Lambda II granted Kia its first-ever inclusion in the 'Wards 10 Best Engines' list in 2018.

In power terms, there’s always plenty there, wherever you go looking, from off-the-line zest (0 to 100km/h comes up in just 4.9 seconds) to in-gear overtaking grunt. Belting it out of a slow corner is the kind of fun that never gets tired.

It's not just the Stinger’s most powerful engine option, but also means this is the fastest Kia ever.

The one and only letdown on the specification of the Kia Stinger 330 line-up, which includes the GT, 330S and 330Si, is that it’s only available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. A manual transmission would certainly be a lot of fun if it was available (even the less-powerful versions are automatic only, sadly).

Awarding Kia its first-ever inclusion in its Wards 10 Best Engines list for the 330, Wards Auto in the US declared: "Kia’s had decent engines over the years, but the new 3.3L is truly remarkable. It sells not only the Stinger but the entire brand.”

The same could be said for the Stinger’s effect on Kia’s image overall, of course. The company might not be selling huge numbers of Stingers, but just its very existence - and the fact that actually seeing one on the road is such a pleasant surprise - is doing a lot for the way the brand is perceived in this country.

If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the most potent V6 Stinger, you could choose the smaller-engine 200 variant, which gets you a turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder motor.

Made for the everyday rather than the fast and furious, the 200 may not be super sporty but it’s still capable, winning a 7 out of 10 from our own Mr Campbell. The 'Theta' engine's 182kW of power at 6200rpm and 353Nm of torque, all yours from 1400rpm to 4000rpm, is impressive for an engine of this size.

You’ll be pretty happy with Kia's 2.0-litre, 182kW/353Nm four-cylinder turbo.

A 0-100km/h dash of a claimed 6.0sec flat is nothing to be sneezed at, either. Obviously, if you can only afford the 2.0-litre version, we’d seriously advise you not to drive the V6, because it’s not going to help you at all.

Clearly, then, the V6-powered variants are the very best Kia Stingers you can get, and its the engine that goes a long way to making it so desirable. If you really love the styling, though, and don’t need the full-fat option, you’ll be pretty happy with the four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine as well.

Kia Stinger engine specifications:

 'Theta II' 2.0L T-GDI Petrol Automatic'Lamda II' 3.3L T-GDI Petrol Automatic
Engine description:Inline 4 cyl. DOHC T-GDI1 D-CVVT2 16 valveV6 DOHC T-GDI1 D-CVVT2 24 valve
Power:182kW @6,200rpm272kW @6,000rpm
Torque:353 @1,400 - 4,000rpm510Nm @1,300 - 4,500rpm
Bore x Stroke:86.0mm x 86.0mm92.0mm x 83.8mm
Compression ratio:10:110:1

V6 or four-cylinder? What Kia Stinger would you choose? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to...
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