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Kia Stinger 2022 review: 330S

The Stinger has only been around since 2017 but it’s made a splash in the market, for good reason.

The Kia Stinger has only been around since 2017, but it’s made a splash in the heavy-hitting sportback market for good reason. Australians have a strong history with high octane sedans.

You were either a Holden or Ford family, not both. However, the Stinger was never meant to compete with our ‘Aussie muscle’ and is pitted, instead, against European thoroughbreds like the Audi A5 Sportback, Skoda Superb Liftback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.

Those cars leave large shoes to fill, so does the Stinger fit the bill? It helps that it’s well-priced compared to the market but is that enough to satisfy the drivers out there that happen to have kids, too? 

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What does it look like?

There’s a sports pedigree in the detailing with extra air-intake vents at the grille and bonnet and rear façade vents adding to a ‘sports car’ feel. The bronze chrome accents (on 330S and GT line) against the black mesh grille makes the front stand out. The grille with the protruding bottom reminds me of another thoroughbred – the Mustang, which speaks volumes for how much I like the look of the car.

The swoopy-roofed rear that widens over the wheels, makes it look low and mean. However, the line from the doors has been carried across the roofline and it cuts off the back and makes the car look like it’s been cut in two. 

There’s a sports pedigree in the detailing of the Stinger. (image: Dean McCartney) There’s a sports pedigree in the detailing of the Stinger. (image: Dean McCartney)

The interior is a little hit and miss. There’s some retro detailing with the round air vents and '80s coloured graphics in the touchscreen, but the interior is missing some much-needed personalisation. An easy way of incorporating this would have been adding some adjustable ambient lighting in the cabin because at the moment there is none and it feels ordinary at night time. Isn’t it funny how some cheap LEDs can change the experience of something?

The retro vibe jars with the rest of the sleek styling throughout the car. No one ‘style’ has been fully executed and it seems at odds with the strong exterior. Which is a shame because this could have been one of those cars that you look back on and wish you had held onto because it has most of the elements to become something… almost classic.

The swoopy-roofed rear that widens over the wheels, makes it look low and mean. (image: Dean McCartney) The swoopy-roofed rear that widens over the wheels, makes it look low and mean. (image: Dean McCartney)

How does it drive?

The 330S has a 3.3-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol engine, one that it shares with the top-spec GT model and I love how growly it is when I turn it on. It’s powerful when you need it to be and still feels like there’s more in reserve. It's really nice to drive in the city but the 'Sport' mode is too jerky for me and didn’t add to the experience, so I had it in 'Comfort' mode most of the time.

The 330S has a 3.3-litre V6 turbo-petrol engine, one that it shares with the top-spec GT model. (image: Dean McCartney) The 330S has a 3.3-litre V6 turbo-petrol engine, one that it shares with the top-spec GT model. (image: Dean McCartney)

The open road is where you can let it loose and feel that turbo V6 power, but the ride is still smooth and it’s fairly quiet in the cabin, which is fantastic. The only thing I noticed that could have been better was the steering. It’s great that it’s responsive but it’s also firm. I noticed it more at high speeds but small corrections tend to result in big movements in the car, which didn’t make it feel settled on the road. That aside, you won’t be bored driving this little rocket.

How spacious is it?

This is a sports car masquerading as a sedan and those cracks will start to show in everyday use. It’s a low car, which isn’t bothersome by itself but the pronounced bucket seats and shallow floor does make it an awkward space to get in and out of. The back doors also have small apertures, which means a fair bit of folding/ducking is required for adults or tall teenagers to get in.

There’s a good amount of headroom and legroom once you’re in, though! An adult will be comfy on a long trip in either row and my five-year old son had no complaints.

  • This is a sportscar masquerading as a sedan and those cracks will start to show in everyday use. (image: Dean McCartney) This is a sportscar masquerading as a sedan and those cracks will start to show in everyday use. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • The back doors have small apertures, which means a fair bit of folding/ducking for adults or tall teenagers to get in. (image: Dean McCartney) The back doors have small apertures, which means a fair bit of folding/ducking for adults or tall teenagers to get in. (image: Dean McCartney)

Storage is average for a car of this type with the glove box and middle console being quite shallow but it’s the sort of car you don’t want to fill with junk anyway, so this might not bother you. The boot has a liftback lid, making it more like a hatchback than a traditional sedan.

This means it has a wider opening to fit larger items in (at the top) and you can easily access the rear of the boot if things roll back there. However, it is narrow where the lid locks in place and the floor is shallow. With all seats up you only have 406L (VDA) of space, which is less than the average sedan and while that almost triples (1114L) when the rear seats are pushed down, that only helps with cargo rather than people storage.

With all seats up you only have 406L (VDA) of space, which is less than the average sedan. (image: Dean McCartney) With all seats up you only have 406L (VDA) of space, which is less than the average sedan. (image: Dean McCartney)

How easy is it to use every day?

The Stinger is a driver’s car and one that you can forgive some niggly bits to get that driving performance. Those niggly bits, the low-lying stature, smaller boot capacity and small rear-door apertures probably wouldn’t make this the go-to car if you had small children with all the accompanying accessories, but if you have older kids who can look after themselves in the back seat, this is a comfortable car to get around in.

The Stinger is a driver’s car and one that you can forgive some niggly bits to get that driving performance. (image: Dean McCartney) The Stinger is a driver’s car and one that you can forgive some niggly bits to get that driving performance. (image: Dean McCartney)

There are some practical features, like the hard kickplates on the back of the front seats. Always handy with younger kids or boisterous pets. There is also a good-sized armrest with two cupholders in the rear which is positioned at height that is actually useful to rest your arm on.

For a large, swoopy-roof sedan, this is easy to manoeuvre in tight car parks and the reversing camera is clear but I’d be cautious nudging into a spot with a park barrier given how low the car is. At least until you got used to the car, just so you don’t scrape the front (which would be a travesty). It's pretty easy to lift the boot lid but I would have preferred a powered tailgate at this price point.

How safe is it?

The Stinger has a lot of good safety features, as you'd expect of a car at this price point, including adaptive cruise control with driver assist and rear cross traffic alert, which is always handy in a car park but it surprisingly doesn’t have blind-spot monitoring, and I can’t see why it wouldn’t when you see that feature on far cheaper cars. It’s one of those things that once you notice it, it really sticks out, which is a shame because the overall driving performance is good.

There are seven airbags, which isn’t ground-breaking but as you’d expect. It does have window-level curtain airbags covering the back row, though not rear side airbags like some rivals. It also achieves a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, but it was tested a while ago, in 2017.

There are outboard ISOFIX mounts plus three top tether child seat mounts across the back seat. With the right seats, you may fit three across but I can’t imagine you’d want three little nuggets in there, even if you could. Trying to get in to buckle them up would get tiresome and I also hit my head a couple of times trying to buckle in my five-year old. However, it was relatively easy fitting car seats and front passengers will still have plenty of space when a 0-4 year rearward facing child seat is installed.

What’s the tech like?

The tech is not ‘blow-your-socks-off' good, but for the price, most people will be satisfied. The 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system is very easy to use (and forgiving), but annoyingly, all Stinger models only have wired Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. This means you have a trailing cable in the otherwise, sleek looking middle console.

By itself, not a major issue but there’s no obvious place for your phone, either. The two shelf spaces in the console are too small for my iPhone when the cable is attached and it just makes it feel like an after-thought.

The tech is not ‘blow-your-socks-off' good, but for the price, most people will be satisfied. (image: Dean McCartney) The tech is not ‘blow-your-socks-off' good, but for the price, most people will be satisfied. (image: Dean McCartney)

There are three USB-A ports throughout the car and a 12-volt port in the back, so all passengers can get connected. The wide 'E-Shifter' feels great under the hand, but interestingly, Kia has separated Park from the rest of the gear positions, which makes it disjointed to use. I’d imagine you’d get used to this but it doesn’t feel as seamless as it could.

The Stinger does have a cool auto-start feature on the key fob. Where you can lock it and then hold in the power button and the car turns itself on. This is a good feature and would be handy when you want to start to cool or warm the car prior to getting in.

How much does it cost to own?

The 330S is second from the top Kia Stinger line-up and will cost $55,030, before on-road costs, which is very competitive compared to the market.

You get some nice features for that price tag, too, like 18-inch alloy wheels, sporty red brake calipers, bronze chrome accents in the grille, quad exhausts and that supple V6 engine.

Not being the top model means you miss out on some features that I’d like to see in a car like this. Things like heated and ventilated front leather seats, heated steering wheel, head up display and the 15-speaker premium sound system, but there is enough here to still satisfy most people - especially considering it’s an extra 10 grand to jump up to the flagship GT model.

The 330S is second from the top Kia Stinger line-up and will cost $55,030. (image: Dean McCartney) The 330S is second from the top Kia Stinger line-up and will cost $55,030. (image: Dean McCartney)

The Stinger comes with Kia’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty, which is better than most in this class. But, the seven-years capped-price servicing is expensive at an average of $606 per annual service (servicing is required every 12 months/10,000km).

You can expect a heftier fuel consumption given this is a V6 and the official combined cycle figure is 10.2L/100km. I achieved 9.6L/100km and I’ve been driving more in the city, with only one longer highway trip this week.

That's pretty good but might be a reflection of my driving style! With fuel costs at an all-time high, this is something to consider if you live in the city.


The Wrap

I’m giving the Stinger 330S 8/10. It earns most of that mark with its driving performance and exterior styling. That alone won’t be enough for some because it is let down by, admittedly small, design issues inside the car. If you’re a driver who doesn’t want to compromise on the driving experience this could be the car for you but I think you’ll enjoy this more if you have older kids and you’re not bending down to buckle them in. 

It’s hard to quell my son’s enthusiasm for any car and this one is no different. He thought it looked like a Batman car and loved the sound of the engine. It earned a 9/10 from him.

Likes

Sporty design, exterior and interior
Good safety & tech features
Powerful and responsive

Dislikes

Missing some features for a ‘second from the top’ model
Shallow boot space
Narrow rear door apertures

Scores

Emily:

4

The Kids:

4.5

$55,030

Based on new car retail price

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.