Kia is turning heads with the Kia Stinger. I’m sharing my experience of driving one for the first time, as well as being inducted into the Kia Family. Thank you, Kia, for inviting me out to the San Diego event. #AboveTheRest #FlyHigh #TheNewKia #KiaStinger #KiaFamily
I believe in second chances, behind the wheel of the Kia Stinger GT
Second Chances + Redemption: Kia Stinger GT Review
Here I am, recently returned from San Diego, and I am feeling very inspired. A few days ago I attended #TheNewKia San Diego 2018 event, which was, nothing less than an incredible adventure! And during my time there I learned a few important lessons. The first lesson, never give up. Because by hanging in there with your chin up, and your best foot forward, you may get another go at whatever it is you are fervently seeking. Lesson two, I think a car is my new spirit animal. Don’t laugh. I say this, with the utmost sober lucidity. And, in so many ways the car I am referring to is a living and breathing representation of what it means to dream yourself into existence. Am I losing you? How about this, at times we don’t think we can be the very best at something, for a litany of reasons we doubt ourselves and become at times our worst cheerleaders. But take a lesson from the folks at Kia, never give up, hang in there, and you just may surprise yourself beyond your wildest, and most ambitious dreams. And what can be more symbolic of such a philosophy? How about a car? A car which screams from its high-powered aluminum cast throat, “I may not be high-born, I may not come from a long legacy of automotive thoroughbreds, but watch me reinvent myself and emerge from the cocoon of rapierlike ambition!” A mere automobile has emerged to become, much more, than anyone ever thought it ever could be. What can be more motivating than a story which inspires you to rise to the occasion of your self-assured potential? Second chances. Redemption. These two words are the touchstones of a brand which never forfeited believing in itself. In San Diego, it all happened. The star of the show, without a doubt, was the new Kia Stinger GT. But this journey is also very much about my second chance, redemption, and delayed gratification. Because in life sometimes you get a second chance to do it all over again for the first time. Let’s go!
My journey to #TheNewKia San Diego 2018 event started over a month ago. But honestly, it began unofficially at Dad 2.0 New Orleans. There, I met John Dominguez. John is the Product Communications/Social Media Manager at Kia Motors America, but don’t let the fancy title fool you, this man is all heart and soul. You will find his passion runs deep regarding family, cars, music, and a short list of other cards held close to his vest. But, his prized skill-set, is connecting the emotive tissues and sinews of what makes us human, and deftly melds it seamlessly with the Kia brand, ideology, and culture.
In New Orleans, John and I talked a lot about music, and rarely do I find someone who’s musical knowledge runs so deep and wide. At some point during the conference, he invited me, off the cuff, out to the then, upcoming San Diego event. I was taken aback, and excited in equal measure. However, New Orleans came and went, sadly without me test driving the Kia Stinger. I was bummed, and I wasn’t sure if I would ever get a second chance to experience the Kia Stinger GT. But with just over a week or so after Dad 2.0 New Orleans an email landed in my inbox and it was official, I was going to San Diego. Drum roll, please…
If you know anything about the Kia Motors America, then you also understand how indispensable music is to the brand’s culture. In #TheNewKia closed Facebook group, one of the first questions John asked of all attendees was, “What is your favorite band?” For me, the answer to this question was immediate, Radiohead. Hands down the most listened to and referenced band in my voluminous list of bands embedded in my musical vocabulary. This band, helmed by Thom Yorke, has meant so much to me over the years and I cannot imagine a world of music without them. Yep, that good. From Pablo Honey to A Heart Shaped Moon, I am all in when it comes to this incredibly tight-knit band of musicians. And guess what? I see Radiohead is playing July 22nd in Detroit, MI @ Little Caesars Arena. Come back and read the review.
And you can’t mention music without waxing enthusiastically about the Kia and Harman/Kardon partnership. Their bond has only deepened, and rightfully so. With the Stinger GT, there is no holding back when it comes to audio performance. Push play and let the sound wash over you through the 720-watt Harman/Kardon® QuantumLogic™ 15-Speaker Surround Sound System.
How you soundtrack your adventures in the Kia Stinger GT are endless, might as well sound good along the way, right?
The appropriate stage for Car Pool Karaoke. Big. Roomy. Like an amphitheater, fitted with plushy seats!
In the Facebook group, we all introduced ourselves, and little by little the Car Pool Karaoke groups began to form. My wife knows Choya Porter, and Choya knows Brittany and Keyonda. Somehow, these wonderful ladies (I found that out later) roped me into what would eventually become our Car Karaoke group, aptly named, Octaves + Automobiles. Understand this; our collaborative effort was a lot of fun, hard work, but a 100% spirited effort; ideas bounced back and forth. Perspective songs were listed, relisted, omitted and proposed. Should we make t-shirts? Etcetera and so on. Eventually, we settled on a group name, a mini-mix of four songs, and yes we would have t-shirts. But it wasn’t until we were all in San Diego, sitting in the Micro Blue Pearl Kia Stinger GT, that everything came together, literally minutes before we shot the final video. This is my first karaoke ever, carpool or otherwise, and I couldn’t have done it without my Octaves & Automobile crew. But, when the smoked cleared We rocked it, and so blithely!
You can check out the final version down below.
Not bad, huh? Above all, we had so much fun!
Gentlemen. Ladies. Start Your Engines
Our chance to drive the Kia Stingers was scheduled on the second day of the event. The night before went by fast, it was fun, no doubt. The party vibe, well-fed smiles turned into likable memories tucked away for moments of future recall and befitting remark. I can still feel it all, ecstatic camaraderie also known as, good times. But now, it is early morning. I don’t remember sleeping much because mostly I didn’t. I chased sleep in fits and spurts of REM and cloudy dreamscape. Now, wide awake, it’s barely after 6:00 a.m. and the sun is still nested in a dark eastern and velveteen scrim of the sky. I get up, shower, dress and head downstairs to where the dragons have been bedded for the night. Through the lobby I see the silky-silver Stinger parked there, and as I stride close, I can’t help but to reach out and touch the Stinger’s shiny well-fashioned edifice. Is it a living pulse I feel or do I imagine things? I break away, fingers tingling. Then, I’m out of the door into crisp pre-dawn San Diego air. I cross L street and walk among the Stingers. They are lined up, like replicated dreams, each one part fantasy and part engineered crème de la crème. And so many colors, like moving among exotic flowers and the soft buzz of something which sweetly stings. And like the car’s namesake, I am stung. Smitten. This feeling is palpable, and again I have to pinch myself. Pinch. Telling myself, “I am really going to helm one of these beautiful beasts!” I take a few photos. And, as I depart the lot, I look back over my shoulder. Each Kia Stinger GT replica, representative of a metaphor signaling speed and something else. Something revealed to the world with a promise attached, an oath embedded, and a core value personified into every exquisitely machined part imparting these words…
“…turning cars from mere modes of transport into new lifestyle spaces.”
There it is, Kia isn’t just making cars, not solely. Kia is manufacturing the proportion of lives lived in and roamed about, searching for adventure, anticipating adventure, and actively participating in the unexpected throes of unlimited journeys taken. Kia, fitting together inanimate objects, into intimacy machines where the material vehicle waits unfinished. For it is us, we the people who make these cars complete. We are collectively, the missing pieces. We, the people are the keys, symbolic and very literal keys, which fire the ignition and fuel the dreams. Kia cars are at their best with the essence of our added lives ensconced in the driver’s seat. Fully and actively participating in our adventures and joyful participation. This is the story of how; a single car shared among four relative strangers brought us closer together.
This is our story in four-part harmony, lean in and ride with us.
After the Brand & Product Immersion seminar, Choya, tells me to head down and grab a blue Kia Stinger; word on the street is there is another team vying for one of the blue beasts too, and we don’t want to miss out. I do a kind of walk-run-jog trot down the stairs, through the hotel lobby and out through the double glass doors. People are already getting into the cars, and I make a bee-line to the blue Stinger at the far end of the lot. I made it. Quickly, I open the door and slip behind the wheel and say, “Mine!” The rest of our crew soon joins me, we take our photos, check over our pre-planned route, then one by one settle into the Stinger. For some reason, the ladies tap me to drive. First, we’re all getting a turn, but inside I am more than happy to be the first one behind the wheel. Redemption. A second chance. I am thinking this, “They better hold on tight!” I fasten my seat belt, don my sunglasses and look out through the windshield as I watch a few teams before me peel out of the lot. I’m up next, I start the car, and immediately the engine comes to life.
And what an engine it is: Twin-Turbocharged 3.3 liter V6, 365 hp @ 6,000
WHOA! This Stinger has a low-growl, not quite guttural but somewhere on the spectrum. I look over at Choya, she’s my co-pilot, and she’s smiling her pearly whites too. I glance into the rearview mirror; I see Brittany and Keyonda reflecting electric smiles as well, this is going to so much fun! I put the car in drive, and we’re off! We exit the lot, make a left on L street, then a right on 5th, we’re heading towards the freeway, and it feels like I am a man looking for an opening towards freedom and escape. This car, the way it purrs, the way it holds me, the way it feels, makes me, compels me to want to press on the gas a little bit more after every block.
After every stop sign, I am being goaded; it’s like the car is daring me to open it up and go. So, I go!
Soon, up ahead I see the exit onto the freeway and as I steer the Kia Stinger GT onto I-5 heading north and I open it up! There is something about this car, and how it handles, that I notice right away, this car grips the road, and it has a low-stance which seems to get all of the 365 hp from its 3.3-liter turbocharged V-6 engine onto the pavement, and those thick, hungry tires eat up the road like a famished carnivore.
Our first stop, visit Krispy Kreme Donuts and score some goodies. Seems easy enough, and you don’t have to ask us twice. My co-pilot, Choya, enters the necessary information into Kia’s Floating Touch-Screen Display. According to Kia’s website, the technological evolution takes in-car tech to the next level. Every Stinger features a floating color touch-screen display with stunning crystal clear visibility. Standard UVO eServices with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ capability offers convenient smart phone connectivity. And its ease of use is definitely user-friendly.
We got a full tank of gas, so we take the scenic route, no one is complaining because we’re enjoying the ride. The scenery is a blur, and the mostly sunshiny day is picture perfect for a meandering ride through unfamiliar locales. But because the totally lit navigation system has our backs, we are not worried about getting lost, at all. The new Kia Stinger is expertly designed, they have thought of everything, and when you have everything you need in a car, that leaves absolutely nothing to worry about. I like that, a lot.
We are not surprised to learn that we are the last team to make it Krispy Kreme donut shop, no worries though. The on-site Kia crew greeted us warmly and offered us donuts and refreshments. I ordered a coffee and got chocolate covered glazed donuts. I need a jolt of energy to keep up with the Kia Stinger GT, and the coffee and donuts are right on time. Soon, we climb back into the Stinger and head towards our next stop.
Go ahead, help yourself to one of these freshly made and yummy Krispy Kreme donuts, courtesy of Kia! Thanks, Kia
We are back in the car again, and there are several destination options to choose from, we settle on visiting the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, it is a long route, but we’re in no rush to relinquish the Kia Stinger, and we take our sweet time arriving at our next locale. We crank the music and ride it out.
We make it to the Cabrillo National Monument Lighthouse; then our crew visits the lighthouse. If you find yourself in San Diego, and you have time this favorite tourist stop is well worth a visit. Lots of history here and the surrounding views are stunning.
It is time for our return trip, and Choya is piloting the Kia Stinger back to the Hard Rock Hotel headquarters. Where did all of the time go? This has been an incredible experience, one that I will not soon forget. I got my second chance and my redemption in one fell swoop! I got to experience the all-new Kia Stinger GT, and I am beyond impressed. The Kia Stinger GT is a game-changer, and it more than exceeds all expectations, and at the unbelievable price point. The Kia Stinger GT comes in at just a smidgen under 50K; there isn’t a comparable car on the market that can match it. Affordable. Sexy. Fast. So, I ask you, what’s stopping you? Head over to your nearest Kia dealer and discover all of the wonderful cars you have been missing. Until next time, VROOM!
The Kia Stinger GT, does it get any better than this? No way!
Octaves + Automobiles
Choya Porter blogs at Just a Splash of Diva
Keyonda Pyles blogs at A Real Urban Mom
Brittany Minor blogs at Clumps of Mascara