This weekend I participated in the Kia Stinger Experience Tour; Washington, DC is Kia's third stop along a nine city tour across the country.
The Kia Stinger Experience Tour allows the new Kia Stinger's performance be explored in an autocross setting. I've attended several other similar brand experience events, but Kia made a notable addition of pitting their product head-to-head against three competitor models.
This would actually mark the second time I've driven a Stinger, although the previous occasion was in DC traffic that disallowed truly opening up the vehicle's 365 twin-turboed horsepower. After a brief brand introduction and event overview, the group went outside to get a tour of the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 from outside to inside.
Next was the main event; autocross! At 5,605 feet, the mile-long course was comprised of a mix of slalom, chicanes, and hairpins allowing drivers to test the Stinger's acceleration, speed, and handling characteristics, comparing them to an Audi A5, BMW 640i GranCoupe, and a Porsche Panamera 4.
Each lap included direction from a professional racing instructor whose goal is to help you fully experience each car's abilities, and improve your own skill. I've had the range from great to piss-poor instructors in other driving events, so I was very happy when I quickly determined that my instructor at the Kia event is the best I've driven with. With 25 years experience teaching performance and tactical driving for the FBI, military, and law enforcement, he gave my driving lots of praise, leaving me with only one minor piece of advice to tweak my performance driving.
First was a lap in the Kia Stinger, beginning with a 0-60-0 run to feel the acceleration and braking abilities.
Following a lap in the Stinger was a lap in one of the three competitor cars on hand. Unfortunately drivers only got a chance to drive one of the three. Hands down the Panamera was the popular kid in the class, with almost everyone requesting wheel time in the Porsche. Due to timing this was not possible, but I was still lucky enough to get a lap behind the wheel of the Panamera. Although it wasn't the 911 I dream of one day owning, it was still my first experience getting wheel-time in a Porsche.
At 330 horsepower, the Panamera 4 was the weakest car in the foursome, while also the most expensive at $108,000 as equipped, however I thought it outperformed the Stinger on this course despite the 35hp deficit and 300lbs of weight. I attribute this to Porsche's highly praised PDK gearbox and heritage of handling perfection. By the numbers the Stinger is ½ a second faster thank the Panamera 4 in 0-60 runs, and near equal to the Porsche in timed course runs. My observations are purely impressional, and may also have been influenced by the course familiarization I'd gained in the Stinger, and subsequent ability to push the vehicle's limits further with that knowledge.
The final lap was back in the Stinger, but with the racing instructor behind the wheel to demonstrate the Stinger's full potential. This lap was clearly the quickest - I am by no means a professional driver, and again, I stand by that a little more course familiarization would have gone a long way. My instructor used this lap to demonstrate and explain the slight tweak to my steering technique for hard turns he had advised. I am so very happy I drove and rode with the instructor I did; he was by far the most helpful instructor I've driven with, despite the fact that most of his comments were affirmation that I was following correct lines and traversing corners properly.
Check here to see if your city is next for the Kia Stinger Experience Tour, and sign up today, especially if you've not yet driven this fantastic performing car!