2021 Kia Stinger 330S review
The engine you want, without all the bells and whistles.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Kia Stinger GT. In my opinion, it is one of the most underrated cars on the road at the moment.
The Stinger is a statement of intent from Kia. Consequently, it looks great, handles well, has a cracking engine and, while you do get a lot for your money at $66,690 driveaway for the GT model, it does “sting” a little.
So what are your options? The Stinger 200S and GT-Line variants have a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine which, having driven both of those engines in the Kia stable, doesn’t make me want either of those.
That leaves the Stinger 330S. It gets a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged gem of an engine and costs $9,800 less than the GT marketed above it.
We covered in excess of 2,000 kilometres in this “High Chrome Red” Stinger 330S. It had no options fitted and cost $56,890. Here’s what we thought.
What’s it like inside?
Since launching, the interior of the Stinger hasn’t had any major overhauls, and that being the case, it has aged well.
You still get leather seats in the Stinger 330S, with the driver’s being 8-way electronically-adjustable. The driving position itself still gives you that special feel that the GT creates.
The front seats are well bolstered and offer a good amount of support. Having sat in a number of cars, I found even the headrests to be soft and comfortable, not something I have said of many cars. After 2,000+ kilometres, a portion of them in long stints, I’ve sufficient experience to give them a tick of approval in terms of comfort.
Behind the steering wheel is a 4.2-inch digital display which you scroll through to find a number of the performance gauges and screens that are present on its big brother.
Dual-zone climate control helps to keep everyone happy, and the 2021 Stinger 330S also gets an updated 10.25-inch infotainment screen, which in truth has gone a long way to helping the cabin stay up to date.
It has a much smaller bezel around the outside than the predecessor, sharper graphics and above all, has a specific function for playing calming sounds like a running stream or the sounds of a forest. If you aren’t interested in that or the DAB radio, you can load up Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
In fact, from a cabin and creature comfort perspective, the main things inside that are missing are a large panoramic roof, heated and ventilated front seats and an electronically adjustable steering column. There are a few others, but to be totally honest, I didn’t miss them.
With the sloping, fastback roofline, it makes the Stinger ideal as a family cruiser for the growing family. There is a decent amount of space on offer in the back, but headroom isn’t as good. Behind my own driving position, I had some space between my knees and the driver seat, but found my head just scraping the roof. There isn’t much toe room under the front seats either, given their low slung positions.
There are two ISOFix mounting points though, so the bambinos can be fastened securely in place.
2021 Kia Stinger 330s boot space
Having done trips like this before in vehicles with larger boots, I had a lingering worry that we may end up with a lot on the backseat of the car, but due to the shape of the boot and how you can access the 406 litres on offer, I managed to fit a fair bit in there.
It isn’t the largest boot, nor is it the smallest.
The 2021 Stinger 330S also lacks an electric tailgate, which is one thing I didn't realise that I would miss. Sure enough, I did, as I was going about packing and unpacking the boot.
What’s the Stinger 330S like to drive?
Just like the GT, you get the brilliant 3.3-litre twin turbocharged V6 engine, which is good for 274kW now, thanks to a new exhaust and 510Nm of torque. It is mated to an 8-speed gearbox which sends power to the rear wheels.
Hitting the start button, you could be mistaken for thinking it isn’t that aggressive given its rather muted exhaust note. However, it is a brute of a combination and capable of catapulting you to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds!
Fuel economy on the 330S is 10.2 litres per 100kms on a combined cycle and 7.5 litres per 100kms on the open road. Even though my drive time did see a considerable amount of time spent in traffic and around town, it was skewed more toward highway driving, which was reflected in the final economy number of 8.5 litres per 100kms. That seems in line with Kia’s claims.
Getting back to GT comparison, like the more expensive model, the 2021 330S possesses a good amount of stopping power with meaty 4-piston Brembo brakes at the front and 2-piston types at the rear.
Unlike the GT though, the 330S Stinger has 18” alloys. These not only look quite good, as you can see from the picture provided, but the extra bit of sidewall made our 2,000km journey a bit more cushioned.
There are five different driving modes: smart, comfort, eco, sport and custom, all of which remain comfortable, even when you are in the performance-orientated sport mode. Sport does make the Stinger feel a noticeable amount more responsive to throttle input and, if you have been cruising for a while, you will notice that it holds gears a perceptible amount longer.
It was easily my favourite among the four modes, with the others also doing what they say on the tin.
While I found the Stinger easy to park and maneuver given it gets a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, the 330S does miss out on some technology. Front parking sensors and Rear Cross-traffic Alert aren’t fitted and it also misses out on blind spot monitoring, but I honestly feel that these are “nice-to-haves”, just like the sunroof and heated seats.
Not everyone needs them.
As I chewed up the kilometres in the 330S Stinger, the Autonomous Cruise Control got a lot of testing, and worked as expected. Another fitment that got a surprising amount of use was the rain sensing windscreen wipers, which saved the wiper stalk from becoming worn out given it rained virtually the entire time I made my way north and back.
The steering aids did irk me a bit though, and I found myself going into the vehicle settings often to turn them off. They were quite aggressive and intrusive and, at times, it felt like you were wrestling the computer for control.
Kia isn’t alone in this, but some sort of memory function around vehicle set-up would be a great addition, with settings being reset at each start up.
How safe is the 2021 Kia Stinger 330S?
The Stinger was ANCAP tested when the model was introduced back in 2017, where it scored five stars.
Despite missing out on some of the safety tech of the more expensive GT, the 2021 330S still remains well equipped. You get:
- Autonomous Cruise Control
- Lane Keep Assist
- Steering Assist
- Driver Attention Alert
- Dusk-sensing headlights
- Active hood lift system
- Keyless entry
Ten grand is a significant chunk of change. While the additions to the GT are justified, if you have lived without technology like Blind Spot Monitors and heated seats till now, the Kia Stinger 330S could very well be the one you want.
The calling card of the Stinger is that powerhouse 3.3-litre twin turbocharged engine and it is a shame that now, just as when the car was launched in 2017, that the majority of car buyers will overlook it and the Kia name.
Give the Stinger a shot.