I’ve written one article previously about the 2018 Stinger, the hatchback from South Korea’s Kia automakers, and it is worth noting that in more than 20 years of delivering my opinions on all things that drive, something rarely comes along like it.

Initially, most were enthralled by the looks of the Stinger’s sleek, sculpted performance sedan profile and stance. That was a natural for most who agreed it was something cool and something different. Then came the enthusiasts who got word (or got into) the Stinger for a drive. That, too, was a natural win and it was only time until the rest of the buying public followed.

Kia Reliabilty

Deserving of a heavy tip of the cap, Kia has worked hard to get to this point. It has a flawless lineup of amazing budget-conscious vehicles that exceed expectations without exceeding people’s budgets.

Offering high performance and practicality across seven variations, the Stinger delivers big on luxury-car features, while offering two engines and plenty of tech to fill any needs. Consumer Reports ranks Kia as Number 3 in reliability. That should calm any initial fears of avoiding a new model and seeing one of the Stingers in person should go a long way to creating a new degree of respect for Kia.

2018 Kia Stinger Blue – GT2 AWD

High-Quality Cabin

The first thing I recognized once I got behind the wheel of the Stinger is the attractive dash and cabin material package that Kia has pulled together. This is worth every bit of the $50k price tag.

Front seats are worthy of note for the bountiful capacity and high-quality fit and feel. Rear seat passengers are equally lucky as these seats are better than most in the segment. Head and legroom are ample and extremely accommodating for any size driver or passenger.

When it comes to standard features such as leather seat trim and power-adjustable, heated front seats, the Stinger is comparable to the luxury competition; however, if there is a check mark, it may simply be less real wood, leather and metal components. Looking strictly at its list of options, the Stinger stays even with its more established luxury competitors.

The Stinger GT2, which carried a $52,300 sticker as tested, matches up with the Audi A7 best. My tester featured optional all-wheel drive (just $2,200), and both have similar cabin space: passenger/cargo volume of 94/25 cubic feet in the A7; 94/23 in the Stinger. The Stinger is not an Audi A7, but it is far less expensive, too.

Spotlight – Performance

The Stinger’s 4,515 pounds is hefty, but it gets a wild pop of power with a 365-horsepower, turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 with 376 lb.-ft. of torque. The power flows through an 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shift option. Look for 0-60 mph ratings at an equally-impressive 4.7 seconds.

For entry-level Stingers, base priced at $32,800 with rear-wheel-drive and a 2.0-L turbo offering 255 horsepower with 260 lb.-ft. of torque, there is a lot of fun and even greater value to be had. The base Stinger offers an eight-speed automatic transmission and a 0-60 mph rating of 5.9 seconds.

The Stinger is an exciting performance sedan experience that offers outstanding acceleration, flat cornering and handling at aggressive speeds, comfortable cabin with premium-feel materials – and that warranty. Of course, when you consider the Stinger is backed by Kia Motors’ industry-leading quality and reliability, well, it’s easy to see why bold predictions about Stinger success are easy to get behind