2018 Kia Stinger pricing revealed, and we're surprised

Kia has priced up the 2018 Stinger, its unexpectedly ferocious fastback sports sedan. Pricing for the car kicks off at $31,900, with five trim levels and a choice of two engines. However, you should probably budget some time to spend on explaining exactly what it is you're driving to strangers at the gas station.

It's fair to say, after all, that the Stinger really doesn't look like your typical Kia. After years of sensible sedans and affordable hatchbacks (along with, true, some mildly odd-looking coupes), the Stinger looks altogether more aggressive and sharp. Indeed, from some angles you could almost mistake it for the Audi A7 Sportback it would so clearly like to be cross-shopped with.

You'll be spending roughly half what you would in an Audi dealership, however. The Stinger is $31,900, while the Stinger Premium is $37,100 (add $900 destination to both). Each have passive suspension and a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Kia says that's good for 255 horsepower at 6,200 rpm, while torque is 260 lb-ft between 1,400 and 4,000 rpm.

Step up to the 2018 Stinger GT and you're looking at $38,350. That – like the $43,250 Stinger GT1, and the $49,200 Stinger GT2 – packs a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6. From it, Kia squeezes 365 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, along with 376 lb-ft. of torque at 1,300-4,500 rpm. The GT cars also get Dynamic Stability Damping Control and an upgrade to high-performance Brembo disc brakes.

Whatever engine you opt for, there's a new eight-speed automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive. $2,200 upgrades that to all-wheel drive – available on both Stinger and Stinger GT trims.

Inside, leather trim is standard, with ultra-soft Nappa leather a cost-upgrade. The Stinger and Stinger Premium get a thick, hand-stitched leather-wrapped multifunction wheel with paddle-shifters; the GT cars swap that out for a flat-bottom wheel. Entry-level cars get a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system running Kia's UVO platform and a six-speaker audio system. Step up to the Stinger GT, and you get nine speakers and an external amp.

A Harman/Kardon audio system with surround sound is an option, as is a color head-up display. As for driver safety, there's an attention warning system, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop & go, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot warnings, and rear cross-traffic collision warnings. The trunk is 23.3 cubic feet, and has the option of a power lift gate.

Frankly, it's a lot of car for not a huge amount of money and, though German rivals may have more brand cachet, the Stinger will ironically probably be a rarer sight on the road. Deliveries kick off in December in the US. We'll have a full road test very soon.