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Freedom of Choice: Kia's Stinger GTS Is Whatever Its Owner Wants It to Be

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By on April 17, 2019

It’s strange how, after an automaker goes to the trouble of building a car aimed at the perpetually cranky enthusiast crowd, you can sometimes forget the vehicle exists. That’s the case with the Kia Stinger. Introduced in 2017, the liftback sedan — offered in turbo four-cylinder and V6 guise, rear- or all-wheel drive — still eludes some minds when thinking of modern sport sedans.

Well, Kia doesn’t want you to forget. To sucker-punch consumers back into coherence, the Korean brand brought a new, limited edition variant of the Stinger to the New York Auto Show, and the changes are more than paint deep.

Dipped in a retina-searing orange lacquer and peppered with carbon fiber trim pieces, the Stinger GTS implores you to look underneath. There, you’ll find an upgraded version of the model’s all-wheel drive system.

Developed by former BMW M boss and current Hyundai R&D head Albert Biermann, Kia’s new D-AWD system strives to create a happy medium between rear-drive and AWD motoring. With this Stinger, you can have both. The system incorporates a mechanical limited slip rear differential for better rear-end grip, plus a trio of drive modes to suit the driver’s mood.

Going from mild to wild, the modes are: Comfort, which sends 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels; Sport, in which the rear tires handle 80 percent of the thrust; and Drift, which puts all the power to the back end. It also holds gears without upshifting. Select journalists were given a chance to test out the D-AWD system on a skidpad last September.

While the new AWD  system is the standout feature of the GTS, Kia decided to make the limited-run trim a little more obvious. Besides the “Federation” orange paint, buyers will discover a Stinger emblem in place of the Kia badge adorning the trunklid, a GTS rear emblem, and the aforementioned carbon fiber outlining the grille, side vents, and replacing plastic in the side mirror caps. Inside, Alcantara covers the steering wheel and console, while suede-like Chamude stands in place of the traditional headliner.

A sunroof and 720-watt Harman/Kardon premium audio system rounds out the list of standard upgrades. Beneath the hood, the GTS is all GT. There, you’ll find the previous top-rung Stinger’s twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6, good for 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The GTS is offered in either rear-drive or D-AWD.

Kia says the Stinger GTS starts “around $44,000” for the RWD version, or $5,650 more than a base GT. The price then rises to “around $46,500” for the D-AWD model. Only 800 of these special Stingers will be made, offered to U.S. buyers this spring.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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