If you’re a car enthusiast in any capacity, you’d be hard-pressed not to know what the Kia Stinger is.
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Luckily it has since proven mostly worthy of that attention – having it included in our PCOTY field is further affirmation. Yet, still, to have performance and desirable in the same sentence as the once lamentable Korean marque is a feat in itself, indeed. It’s positioned as a replacement for our venerable SS Commodore by punters and Kia alike.
However, to truly do that it needs a V8 slung into its engine bay. That’s because while the boosted 3.3-litre bent-six provides the quarter-mile goods (we’ve achieved sub-five seconds to 100km/h and thirteen-dead to 400m), it sorely lacks aural appeal. And, ultimately, a chunk of character we know and love from our big sedans.
If this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas is anything to go by, Kia knows there’s a bit of mongrel to extract. And while beefed-up body kits, loud hues, intake/exhaust changes as well as bigger wheels, stiffer springs and thicker anti-roll bars are nice, it’s not adding cylinders.
Here’s how we’d do it
Off the shelf
This isn’t just a pipe dream, for Kia has a suitable engine in the form of the 294kW/500Nm 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8 found in the K900. Even better, Stinger boss Albert Beirmann has confirmed the engine fits, though there is currently no plan to offer it.
Trouble is, such an engine would likely be slower than the current twin-turbo six, which is why Kia might need to drum up an engine concept revealed at the 2008 SEMA show. Though smaller at 4.6 litres, a supercharger within the vee forced in 11psi of boost to develop a healthy 340kW, which should shave that 0-100km/h time down to around 4.5sec and do wonders for the Stinger’s soundtrack.
One of our main bugbears with the Stinger is its eight-speed auto. Not so much the gearbox itself, more the lack of a true manual mode, which seems a strange oversight for an enthusiast-focused model. Add full control and throttle blipping on downshifts and we’ll be happy.
The Stinger’s current chassis tune is acceptable for its intended role, but a V8S would require much more suspension control – a Track mode for the adaptive dampers would be a good start – stickier rubber and far, far better brakes.
If the current Stinger GT is pitched as an SS replacement, the V8S would slot right into the territory vacated by the LS3-powered HSV Gen-F Clubsport. Call it $72-75K and watch them fly out of dealers as V8-mad Aussies drop their prejudices faster than politicians renouncing their dual citizenships.