Now it’s no secret that we at Car Articles love GT cars. The promise of practicality, speed and the ability to swallow big miles without even taking a pit stop is all part of the charm. The Kia Stinger GT ticked most of the boxes on release, although there were some that were asking for more performance still out of the box. Whilst this rather special GT420 is a race car, perhaps it does open the door to a proper performance model? The information below might well be of interest if you have ever wondered how a ‘normal’ car is taken to the absolute limit of performance. It certainly makes for interesting reading!
As it turns out, the first Stinger in the UK became a rather special car indeed. Wearing the plate LA66 HTG and registered on Wednesday 22nd February 2017, it went on to become the cover car of many UK publications, having been photographed at the Longcross proving ground in Surrey. Its stardom was assured thanks to its appearance on both BBC ‘Top Gear’ and Amazon’s ‘The Grand Tour’ television programmes. Members of the public were also able to clamber over this early car, as it was used as a dealer roadshow vehicle at Kia showroom unveil events up and down the country. Normally pre-production cars cover a couple of thousand miles, but this well used example has clocked up an impressive 10,000 miles.
All of the ingredients for creating the eye-catching ‘Stinger GT420’ were already in the car’s DNA, created by Kia engineers at the company’s Namyang development centre in Korea. A meaty 3,342cc V6 twin-turbocharged petrol engine with direct injection develops 365bhp and 510Nm out of the box, and that’s even before it has been breathed upon.
HMETC powertrain team were involved from the start to tune the Stinger GT S track car, and they recommended HKS M45il spark plugs for enhanced combustion. A K&N sports air filter and a lightweight Milltek Sport quad-exit exhaust system with catalysts deleted were fitted in place of the factory item. A six-row automatic transmission cooler is fitted, in place of a four-row item, ensuring that the automatic transmission doesn’t overheat and is up to the job on track. The transmission software was recalibrated to have quicker shifting characteristic in Sport and Sport+ modes. These measures bring the vital statistics up to a whopping 422bhp and 560Nm of torque, but any racer knows that lightness is key to making the most of this additional performance.
Kia’s Press Garage in Chippenham stripped out the interior of the Stinger, removing the seats and belts, airbags, sound system, interior trim and rear window regulators. The engine cover, undercovers, parking sensors, boot and bonnet dampers and rear bumper beam and foam were also taken out, while the rear windows were glued into place and lightweight door cards installed. The Stinger’s sunroof was removed and replaced by a steel panel, shaving off a few more vital kilograms, even after a honeycomb panel was grafted in by Hyundai Motor Europe to add essential reinforcement to the panel. There is a total weight reduction of approximately 150kg after the installation of the roll cage, seats, belts and fire extinguisher.
A custom roll cage was installed and painted and the crash pad and necessary electronics re-assembled. Underbody stiffening comprises of a cross bar at the front and a pair of bars at the rear. With the roll cage in place, a pair of Sparco race seats were bolted into place, along with race belts and the all-important fire extinguisher mounted within the cockpit, should the worst happen. Completing the weight saving measures, a Lite Blox LiPo battery is installed to replace the original item, saving 22kgs.
Glued to the track
The weight saving continues with the fitment of wider OZ Racing Leggera rims saving approximately 5kg per wheel, and Pirelli Trofeo R tyres were selected for maximum adhesion on the track – 235/35/R19 at the front and 265/30/R19 at the rear. The camber angle was increased to -2.5 degrees by modifying the front cross-member, and uprated front brakes saw Brembo six-pot calipers and racing steel flex pipes fitted, along with high performance 380 x 34mm discs and Endless pads. At the rear, the standard Stinger V6 brakes were utilised. Cooling ducts and deflectors make sure that the brakes have the maximum cooling capacity needed on the race-track and tweaks to the anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronic stability control ensures that they deliver optimum performance for on-track use. In Sport+ mode and by switching the traction control and electronic stability control off completely, the ‘Stinger GT420’ becomes easy to drift.
The standard dampers were used for the racing set up, with Eibach Pro lowering springs and anti-roll bars of 25mm at the front. At the rear, an 17mm in-house anti-roll bar was fitted. The continuous damping control was axed in favor of a conventional damper set up with some fine tuning.
Adding the final flourishes
Once the mechanical upgrades were signed off, the Kia Press Garage set to work giving the ‘Stinger GT420’ some extra visual muscle. A Stillen front splitter and rear diffuser were added, along with a rear spoiler by Air Design. But the final pièce de résistance is an eye-catching wrap that integrates nicely with the existing HiChroma Red paintwork, adding white and graphite grey elements, advertises the race-spec upgrades and reveals the ‘GT420’ name. Every inch the racer, it looks sensational from every angle.
How much did it cost?
With a project that is completed outside of normal business, and the involvement of Hyundai Motor Europe’s technical team, it’s hard to say exactly how much time and money has been spent on the ‘Stinger GT420’. The amount of blood, sweat and tears expended on this project cannot be counted in a monetary sense and therefore a definitive price is hard to quantify on a project as unique as the ‘Stinger GT420’. Kia’s current tagline could have been created just for this project – The power to surprise – and you bet it does.