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2018 Kia Stinger: Taming a Rowdy Performer With Sound and Technology

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author photo by Russ Heaps January 2018

Arguably the most anticipated car launch for 2017 was the 2018 Kia Stinger GT. If we didn't become excited about a 4-door with 365 horsepower stuffed under the hood -- providing the ability to gallop from zero to 60 in 4.7 seconds -- we should probably turn in our Enthusiast Card. Right?

Of course, it's not just the fact the Stinger GT is scalded-cat quick, with the handling chops to keep all this commotion between the painted lines -- it's that it's a Kia! That means this Porsche Panamera-eater can be had for less than forty large. But wait: it gets even better.

Kia wanted a hot-shoe 4-door in the spirit of those great European Gran Touring sedans of the 60s and 70s. That is, a sedan every bit as sophisticated on the inside as it is dynamic on the outside. To that end, it delivered a full suite of safety and driver-assist technologies, as well as one of the best and most advanced audio systems in the auto industry.

Big Tech

A first for Kia is the driver-attention warning (DAW) system available in the new Stinger. Designed to help foil distracted or drowsy driving, the DAW keeps an eye on various inputs from the vehicle and driver. When it senses the driver isn't concentrating, it sounds an alarm and displays a visual warning.

Also available is forward-collision avoidance (FCA) with pedestrian detection, which helps bring the car to a stop when it senses a potential collision with another car or pedestrian. Capable of bringing the Stinger to a full stop in traffic and then accelerating again once traffic is moving, the smart cruise control with stop & go maintains a safe distance between the Stinger and the vehicle in front of it. Other state-of-the-art driver-assist/safety tech includes lane-keep assist, which helps maintain the vehicle's intended line, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Another available piece of technology is the head-up display (HUD), which projects information such as speed, audio and cruise control settings, turn-by-turn navigation and blind spot monitoring information on the windshield directly in front of the driver, thereby helping keep the driver's attention on the road.

Big Sound

Owners of the new Kia Stinger who want it all will probably opt for the top-end Harman/Kardon audio system with its 15 speakers. Because the Stinger GT is such an emotional car, it was crucial the audio system create the same degree of emotion. According to Dawn Geary, senior manager of global marketing communications for Harman International, H/K believed the Stinger GT was a game changer and pulled out all the stops. Basically, Harman mandated its system developers to color outside the lines.

As one of the earliest original equipment suppliers brought into the Stinger project, H/K had months and months to become well-acquainted with the Stinger and develop just the right audio system for it.

Like the song says, it's "all about that bass." One area that really challenged developers was how to deliver the amount of bass the audio system needed. To generate big sound, a subwoofer requires a lot of air movement. The bigger the bass, the more air needed -- and the more air, the larger the space.

Early on, they decided they didn't want the subwoofer eating up a big chunk of cargo space in the trunk. The answer? "We split the subwoofer," Geary explained. "We put dual subwoofers under the front seats. We weren't going for vibration butt kickers, but it was the best way to deliver the desired amount of bass without taking over the cargo area."

Harman has a team of what Geary calls trained listeners. Something like taste testers in a brewery, these team members have been evaluated and certified to pass judgment on a system's sound quality. They would go into a listening room providing exactly the sound Kia wanted in the Stinger, and then compare that sound to what they heard inside the car. "The idea is to deliver the most natural sound," Geary said.

The H/K audio system in the Kia Stinger GT also features Harman's Clari-Fi technology. It actually rebuilds audio signals lost during digital compression. Kia was the first to use this technology in a car. Harman's QuatumLogic Surround Sound technology, which extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into a multidimensional sound-stage experience, is another key contributor to this audio system's sound quality.

All in all, the months of meticulous development resulted in one of the best, most natural-sounding audio systems available. "It's like the trifecta of audio technology," Geary summarized.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Kia Stinger: Taming a Rowdy Performer With Sound and Technology - Autotrader