The Kia brand has come a long way baby.  And this year they put the exclamation point on that statement with their adrenaline pumping, fast and sexy looking 2018 Stinger.

This enthusiast’s car turns heads on the roads and delivers with the critics.  Our very own Professor, Clinton Quan, finally got to hit the track with one and shares his complete analysis in this iDriveSoCal Podcast.


Recorded April 25, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA

Clinton Quan: I drove the top of the line Stinger GT2 in all-wheel drive, and it’s a fantastic vehicle. It’s fast. Kia claims a zero to sixty time of 4.7 seconds. I’ve seen other publications do a test, a zero to sixty run in 4.4 seconds, and you can definitely feel how fast this car goes. Fun car to drive, handles really well. The gorgeous Gran Tourismo Sport Back design. Definitely a driver focused interior.

Tom Smith: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States, Southern California. I’m Tom Smith, and joining us for another vehicle review/drive review is the Professor Clinton Quan. And first, Clinton, thank you for joining us.

Clinton Quan: It’s great to be back, Tom.

Tom Smith: And I say kind of vehicle review/driving review because this is actually … we’re doing the 2018 Kia Stinger, and Clinton is a big fan of this vehicle. He’s a big fan of the brand, so, I’m gonna try and contain Clinton a little bit here, because he’s like gonna geek right out of his suit, but it is a gorgeous car, for sure. But also, he … it’s not your typical test drive where we have a dealer partner, and we’re driving the car as part of that partnership. This was actually … did you go to this event? It was the event … tell me about the event.

Clinton Quan: Well, it’s call the Kia Stinger Driving Experience.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: Where they visit nine cities throughout the US.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: Los Angeles was the first city, and the event I attended was in Phoenix at ISM Raceway, which was the final city for the event.

Tom Smith: Okay, so why didn’t you do the one in Los Angeles?

Clinton Quan: I didn’t know about it until after it took place.

Tom Smith: Oh my God, the professor didn’t know about something.

Clinton Quan: It wasn’t promoted until after the event, but I’m glad I went to the one in Phoenix, because it was probably more fun, and it took place at a race track. Not on the actual race track, but in the parking lot where there’s a lot more space, and the auto cross, of course, was a little over a mile long.

Tom Smith: Okay, that all sounds great.

Clinton Quan: Pretty long.

Tom Smith: That all sounds great, we can come back to that. How did you not know about … because folks, I can’t tell you how much Clinton talks about the Stinger. I mean, Clinton talks about cars constantly anyway, but the Stinger has been like, Oh, yes. Clinton, yes, I’ve seen it, Clinton. Yes, I’ve seen that color, Clinton. Yes, I heard about this news Clinton. No, I didn’t hear about that news, but I kind of don’t want to hear about … no, I’m just kidding, I always want to hear. But, so, how did you miss it? How did you not get informed?

Clinton Quan: Well, I didn’t see a post on Facebook about it until after the first event.

Tom Smith: Okay, so this wasn’t an I-Drive thing at all. This was just Clinton being automotive fanboy.

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: Right?

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: So, you didn’t submit media credentials for IDriveSoCal at the event?

Clinton Quan: No, no, no. Not at all.

Tom Smith: Okay, wow.

Clinton Quan: This is an event that’s open to the public. Anyone can go.

Tom Smith: I just can’t believe you missed it.

Clinton Quan: Take a spin in the Stinger.

Tom Smith: That’s crazy. Okay, but, so that’s how much of an automotive enthusiast Mr. Clinton Quan, the professor is. He took his weekend, drove all the way out to Phoenix, Arizona. You did drive, right?

Clinton Quan: Oh, yes.

Tom Smith: Okay, drove all the way out to Phoenix, Arizona to test drive the Stinger. Did it cost anything to do that?

Clinton Quan: No, it’s a free event.

Tom Smith: A free event, you just had to sign up?

Clinton Quan: Yeah, most ride and drive events are complimentary.

Tom Smith: Okay. So, once you found out about it, you just … you register, how does it work?

Clinton Quan: Yes, you register on the website. They’ll send you a confirmation email. There’s only a certain number of spaces available for each day and each time slot.

Tom Smith: Was this one of those that you had to write a couple of paragraphs as to why you wanted to be there, or anything like that, or was it just the first … however many that signed up could come?

Clinton Quan: Oh, however many that sign up … this was not a … it wasn’t a competition or a contest.

Tom Smith: Okay, so you drive out to Phoenix, and it’s at a racecourse, and go.

Clinton Quan: I drove the top of the line Stinger GT2 in all-wheel drive, and it’s a fantastic vehicle. It’s fast. Kia claims a zero to sixty time of 4.7 seconds. I’ve seen other publications do a test, a zero to sixty run in 4.4 seconds, and you can definitely feel how fast this car goes. It’s got a 3.3 liter V6, turbocharged engine, 365 horsepower, but more importantly, 376 feet of torque.

Tom Smith: I’m smiling at Clinton like, all right, give me all the stats, and he’s like, all right, I know, I’m sorry. But, so this was an actual ride and drive event. So … and what you drove was the top of the line. There are a few models below that, right?

Clinton Quan: Yes. There are actually five trims.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: The base model is the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine inline-four, producing 255 horsepower, 260-pound feet of torque.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: Then there is a premium version of the four-cylinder, turbocharged engine, and that starts at about $37,000. Oh, by the way, the base model starts around $32,000.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: Then you move up to GT, which is the 3.3 liter, V6 engine, turbocharged, and that starts at about $38,000. Then there’s a GT1 that starts at about $43,000. And then the top of the line, GT2 trim starts at about $49,000. Every trim is also available in all-wheel drive, and that is an additional $2,200.

Tom Smith: There seems to be a lot of options within that … a lot of trim options within that vehicle.

Clinton Quan: Yes.

Tom Smith: So-

Clinton Quan: For example, when you move up to the top of the line GT2, you’re gonna get the Napa Leather interior.

Tom Smith: And again, that’s what you drove?

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: Now, for those of us driving around in the streets of Southern California, the highways, or even outside of Southern California, is the uneducated eye going to know … because this is a very distinct, good-looking sports car, sports sedan, but at first blush, at first glance, are you really gonna know, oh, that’s the GT2, or that’s the base model, or somewhere in between? Are there any obvious indicators?

Clinton Quan: It would be very difficult to distinguish between the GT trims, but you could probably easily distinguish the GT trims versus the four-cylinder models from the front. The front looks a little bit nicer, and also from the side, you have different wheels. So, that’ll … unless you change out the wheels. The wheels are definitely different. So, that would be the big indicator. I think the wheels would be the most noticeable difference for the average consumer.

Tom Smith: Okay. So, that’s the outside. What about the inside? Anything else that you want to mention about the outside?

Clinton Quan: Well, this is a gorgeous automobile. It’s-

Tom Smith: It is. I’ll give you that, for sure. It is a good looking ride.

Clinton Quan: What I would call a Grand Tourismo Sport Back, so it’s similar in style to something like the BMW 4 Series Grande Coupe, or the Audi A5 Sport Back.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: So, it’s not your traditional sedan.

Tom Smith: Right, so it’s kind of … it’s not a trunk, but it’s not really a traditional hatchback either. It’s across.

Clinton Quan: No. It’s a long sloping back, so you have a lot more cargo space in the back

Tom Smith: Right, right. For what it is.

Clinton Quan: And it’s a lower vehicle. It gives it a really … I guess you could say a really sexy look.

Tom Smith: Let’s go to the inside.

Clinton Quan: Very, very sporty interior. You could say that it has a driver-focused interior. A vehicle for an enthusiast, but this is more so than others. It’s a lower vehicle. I really like the gauges. It’s got large, round circular gauges, those traditional gauges you would find in a sports car, or a sports sedan. Three-spoke, flat-bottom steering wheel, paddle shifters. It’s got-

Tom Smith: All your favorites. So, Clinton’s drooling right now, folks.

Clinton Quan: Yes. It’s got a floating screen, which has become really popular now. It started with the Europeans, BMW.

Tom Smith: What does that mean, floating screen?

Clinton Quan: Well, it’s not integrated into the center stack or the dashboard of the vehicle. It sticks on top of the center stack.

Tom Smith: Oh, the navigation screen?

Clinton Quan: The navigation screen.

Tom Smith: Oh, okay, okay. I thought you were referring to the gauges in front of the steering wheel.

Clinton Quan: No, I’m talking about the navigation screen.

Tom Smith: Got it. Okay.

Clinton Quan: So, it’s got a large screen there. It’s got these really cool circular bents, and there’s three of them right in the center stack. Yeah, it’s a beautiful car.

Tom Smith: Clinton’s in love.

Clinton Quan: Beautiful interior.

Tom Smith: Clinton’s in love. And I know what I wanted to ask about it, also. With it being so low to the ground, is it still comfortable to get in and out of for an everyday driver?

Clinton Quan: Yes, I found that-

Tom Smith: I mean, it’s an enthusiast car, so I mean, that’s one of the things that you expect, right?

Clinton Quan: Yes. I found it to be very easy to get in and out of.

Tom Smith: And then, obviously we have the drive.

Clinton Quan: Yes. Fun car to drive, handles really well. The steering is … I felt like it was properly weighted, and with the all-wheel drive, you get a really good grip, especially on an Auto Cross Course.

Tom Smith: And now, if you don’t opt for the all-wheel-drive, are you-

Clinton Quan: It’s rear-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive.

Tom Smith: Rear wheel, because that’s my thing, right?

Clinton Quan: Yes.

Tom Smith: So, if you don’t go all-wheel, it is rear-wheel?

Clinton Quan: Yes, correct.

Tom Smith: Okay, cool.

Clinton Quan: Which, I think most people will go with the rear-wheel drive.

Tom Smith: Oh, really?

Clinton Quan: Especially … well, in Southern California.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: Maybe in Northern California, in the Rocky Mountain states, on the East Coast, a lot of people really like the all-wheel-drive there, but here in Southern California, where we’ve got fantastic weather, it doesn’t rain too much.

Tom Smith: Yeah, so, you’re saying all-wheel drive as a weather concern, not necessarily as a straight performance concern?

Clinton Quan: Yeah, I think a lot of people still prefer rear-wheel drive.

Tom Smith: It probably saves a couple of bucks, too, right?

Clinton Quan: It’s, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a difference of $2,200, for all the trims.

Tom Smith: Okay, all right. All right, you know what? Let’s go ahead with the top three.

Clinton Quan: The top three. Well, you gotta start off with the gorgeous Grand Tourismo Sport Back design. That’s the first thing you’re gonna notice about this car. It has an aggressive design, really clean lines, proper proportions, the signature key, a tiger-nose grill on the front. It looks great from every angle. Whether it’s the front, the side, three-quarter front, three-quarter rear.

Tom Smith: I’ll agree.

Clinton Quan: Or the rear.

Tom Smith: I’ll agree.

Clinton Quan: And then second, the interior. I love the interior.

Tom Smith: Yup.

Clinton Quan: This is definitely a driver-focused interior. You’ll feel very, very comfortable in this car, whether you’re 5’6” like me, or 6’3”, and then third would definitely be the performance, fantastic performance.

Tom Smith: So, pretty much everything. What’s Clinton’s top three? Everything. I love it. Kia, you gotta hand it to Kia. They stepped out on this one, and they did it right, right?

Clinton Quan: Well, this car … it was … the head designer is Peter Schreyer, who formerly came from Audi. And then, for the engineering-

Tom Smith: You can see that in the car.

Clinton Quan: Yes. Yeah, you can definitely see the Audi influence in the car, especially the interior. For the engineering, they hired Albert Biermann, who was formerly from BMW’s M Division.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Clinton Quan: So, there’s a lot of German influence in terms of design, and engineering in this vehicle.

Tom Smith: Crazy, all right. Okay, anything else about the 2018 Kia Stinger that you oh, so love, that you’d like to tell the audience?

Clinton Quan: I would … the last thing I would say is you’re getting a lot of car for the money.

Tom Smith: Yeah, you are. That’s true.

Clinton Quan: You really are.

Tom Smith: And it is good looking, man. The first time I saw one driving down the road, I was like, first I had to do a double, triple take, and then I reached for your phone number, because it was like, wow, all right, I see what you’re talking about. Okay, thank you, professor. As always, another fantastic analysis. I know you’ve been dying to do this one, the 2018 Kia Stinger. Clinton finally got to talk about it.

Clinton Quan: Yeah.

Tom Smith: He’s gonna share this one like nobody’s business. Thanks for listening. For IDriveSoCal, I’m Tom Smith. We’ll talk to you soon.