Kia Stinger Tuning Mods

"Thanks for reading my Kia Stinger tuning tips."

The Stinger must rate as one of Kia's most exciting cars in recent times, and we get asked about the best Stinger Mods in ever-increasing numbers, so here is our Kia Stinger tuning guide to the best mods.

Designed to be an executive grand tourer, the Stinger blends comfort with some impressive performance figures from its relatively large petrol engine. The rear wheel drive platform with performance slip differential proves Kia needs to be taken seriously as a maker of sports cars, and they are aiming at BMW with the design, configuration, and driver appeal of the Stinger.

When modded the Kia is s serious contender against any factory car that BMW turns out, and we are sure the next revision of the Stinger will bring even better things.

All engines offered, even the diesel engines are fun and engaging to drive, with the 3.3 flagship being the most desirable option for the performance driver and those looking for Stinger Mods.

Kia has come up with an awesome car here, aiming perfectly at the German carmakers in terms of equipment, power, and driver appeal. We get quite a few emails asking about mods for these, so we'll be updating this article as we answer people's questions and passing on your tips that get left in our comments section at the bottom of this page about tuning mods and upgrades for all the Stinger engines.

Can you modify a stinger?

With simple mods like a remap, mapping, intake and exhaust are possible to push power to 500hp or more, and all on stock engine internals, so you can appreciate the potential of the Stinger as a tuning project.

Shall we begin? Let's enter the world of Kia Stinger tuning and summarise the optimum modifications and upgrades. Kia Stingers are awesome to work on and with the right uprated tuning mods, you can substantially enhance your driving enjoyment.

The Stinger is a brilliant project car to have. With the right mods, your Stinger can be transformed into a fun car. Don't waste money, do your homework and follow our unbiased guides to each performance upgrade to avoid wasting money.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your Kia Stinger

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings on your Stinger,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Suspension upgrades - a decent set of coilovers will transform the handling of your Stinger.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence. Bear in mind that Kia did a pretty job with the head, so gains are minimal and expensive.
  6. Intercoolers - the single biggest restriction on a tuned stinger is the OEM intercooler design which can be improved, but bigger is not always better.

Tuning table for the Stinger showing quarter mile times before and after tuning.

Base HP Weight QM Time Tuned hp QM Time
252 1980kg 15.86 300 14.99
365 1980kg 14.08 390 13.78
368 1980kg 14.04 400 13.67
300 1980kg 15.01 350 14.30

Stinger Handling/Suspension Mods Upgrades

Improving the Stingers handling for many owners is often the first priority in your Stinger tuning project. The stock adaptive suspension is actually pretty good, with a choice of settings from comfort to sport. Adjustable Coilovers allow you to set a ride hight and this allows you to tweak your cornering performance.

A few have highlighted the softness of the suspension to the rear of the Stinger and excessive roll, and, although this is subjective and to each driver's preferences, one simple option is that an antiroll/sway bar can be fitted to stiffen this up and reduce roll without changing the stock suspension setup.

A front and rear sway bar kit make more sense than just focussing on the rear, in TorqueCars opinion, and a front strut brace will also help keep the original factory alignment in older higher mileage cars.

Fully adjustable suspension allows you to fine tune the handling of your Stinger usually improving your drive, there are a few coilover kits coming on to the market now, which is good to see.

We would go to a maximum drop of 22mm - 43 mm. on most models. You risk grounding out if you go lower than this and will struggle on poorly maintained roads.

H&R, KW Coilovers and Eibach all have good reputations with Kia Stinger owners as far as suspension upgrades go, but we'd love to hear your experiences and which brands and mods you've fitted in the comments section below.

Uprated Bushes

Bushing mods are needed so what's involved?

Bushes, which are rubber mounts, allow the Stinger's suspension components to be affixed to the car's chassis. The rubber ones will deteriorate over time.

By replacing new OEM rubber bushings, you may greatly improve your vehicle's performance.

Because polyurethane bushings are stiffer, the ride may be more harsh, but the bushings will last longer and maintain the car's handling over a longer time.

They may also quicken the depreciation of other suspension components due to the increased vibration and play.

A new set of polyeyurothane bushings will help to minimize the excessive play associated with rubber bushings.

Our aim in engine tuning should be to increase peak bhp at the top end.

Want 400+hp? Take one Kia Stinger 3.3, Upgrade the intake and exhaust, add a tune/remap and season for good measure!

The diesels and the 2.0 engines do not provide as much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine, although all Stinger engines are fantastic when tuned properly. Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.

Engine Tuning modifications for the Stinger.

Engine options for the Stinger, thankfully all put down over 200hp, and the car feels really quick even with the 2.5 GDi Smartstream engine.

  • 2.0 L Theta II GDI turbo i4 (petrol) 252 hp) @ 6,200 rpm 260 lbft) @ 1,400–4,000 rpm
  • 3.3 L Lambda II GDI twin-turbo V6 (petrol)  2 versions
    365 hp) @ 6,000 rpm 376 lbft) @ 1,300–4,500 rpm
    368 hp) @ 6,000 rpm 376 lbft) @ 1,300–4,500 rpm
  • 2.2 L R-Line D4HC CRDi i4 (diesel) 199 hp) @ 3,800 rpm 325 lbft) @ 1,750–2,750 rpm
  • 2.5 T-GDi Smartstream  300 hp) @ 5,800 rpm 311 lbft) @ 1,650–4,000 rpm

It was the Stinger that popularised sodium filled exhaust valves to keep temperatures down in the high performance V6 engine, and the car also boasted a very complex adaptive suspension system.

The best Stinger engines are the 3.3 turbocharged Lambda II units, but even the 2.5T-GDi feels quite lively on this platform.

Don't overlook the potential in the Stinger and we are quite impressed with what Kia have produced, finally making a car that needs improvement rather than a complete tuning makeover.

This list of the stages and performance parts are usually fitted by our members to the Stinger, but decide how far you want to go before you start.

The point of our tips is to give a starting base of modifying modifications and point you in the right direction, our forum is where you can ask for more detailed advice and tips on your customized car project, the best tuning upgrades, and all aspects of modding cars.

Because so many different engines were fitted to the Stinger it is hard to cover all aspects of engine tuning here, so we've split the engines out into separate mod guides, so you can get better insights into the best mods for your Stinger project.

Stage 3 motorsport mods just won't work well on the road difficult in stop-start traffic.

The best mods we would do for your Stinger are a good old camshaft upgrade, tunes or remaps especially on turbo engines, a fast road camshaft, and sports exhaust, with a good air intake.

So let's break these Mod options down.

Kia Stinger Performance Camshafts

One of the best mods for most engines is a good old camshaft, which improves valve lift and durations allowing for better airflow through the engine.

If you can't find one in your area you might be able to find a specialist who can offer a regrind, this will achieve the same result, but will cost a little more. The benefit is that you can dictate the profile you need, and put the power band exactly where you need it most.

The intake & exhaust valve timings play a big role in your car's power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car challenging to drive in traffic.

You'd need to follow a cam upgrade with other mods and finish with a reflashed ECU to fully realize your gains.

Stinger ECU Mods: Remapping

Can you tune/remap a Stinger? Yes there are quite a few offering this, in addition, you'll find piggyback ECU's, aftermarket ECU's, and OBD flash tuners so there are no limitations on where you can go with your modified Stinger project. Stinger Mods are getting more plentiful with every passing month.

A tuned/remapped turbo will give large power gains (up to 50hp more on the 3.3) and will take full advantage of the strength of the block.

Which is the best Kia Stinger engine?

The 3.3-liter V8 engine with its turbos is a tuner's dream, if you were to tune/remap its Continental SIM2K-260 ECU you'll see another 50hp peak power, and doing other mods will yield higher gains.

If you have a Stinger with a turbo, the first thing you should do is tune/remap it it is the biggest power gain you'll get for the money, but if you are planning other mods, hold off and tune/remap it last. The right map can make a huge difference in how well the car runs and how well it handles.

Kia's OEM Stinger  Maps are designed to be safe

Most of the time, setting up a single ECU map for everyone requires some tweaking of parameters to make sure that local fuel emission regulations and temperatures are taken into account when the map is set up.

Timing maps take into account temperature changes, small flaws, and bad weather. It's not unusual for the CO2, HC, and NOx emission goals for each regional area to be different.  Plus the fact there are a lot of different types of gas and weather in different countries, so the ECU's settings need to be a little conservative to keep everything running smoothly under all these conditions.

Stinger Tunes or Remaps make sense

All modern Stinger engines can benefit from remaps, which boost power by 20% to 30% on turbocharged engines. TorqueCars says that engine tuning/remapping on a rolling road Dyno is the best way to get all of the horsepower from your upgrades and it lets you set the car up to fully extract all the power from your mods.

So the hierarchy of maps for your Stinger we have at the top rolling road tunes or remaps which are far better than off the shelf remaps, which are in turn better than the "tuning boxes" that plug in and work as a piggyback ECU. But there is a lot of differences between providers so do shop around and ask other Stinger owners how they got on in our forums.

Aftermarket ECU's are plentiful for the Kia, which is quite different from how things looked a few years ago when the car first came out, and we see quite a few decent tuning boxes coming out for those wanting a simple plug in upgrade that can be easily removed.

Stinger Tuning Stages

If we broke the tuning mods down into stages on the Kia Stinger, it would look something like this.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Remap, Panel air filter or JT (Jonny Tig) intake, Suspension upgrade (drop 22mm - 33 mm.), Sports exhaust, Lighter flywheel, Alloy wheels.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Fast road cam, Power/Sport clutch, Ported and polished head, fuel pump upgrades, high flow fuel injector.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Competition cam, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Engine balancing, Sports gearbox, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

Your aim when modding the engine should be a flat and wide torque output. You want to avoid sending all the torque to be at the top end unless you are creating a competition car.

Getting a professionally flowed (ported and polished) head with larger valves can fully maximize your power gains on your modified Stinger project.

A good triple plate fast road power clutch will help to keep that power going where it should. Never cut corners or think that a standard OEM clutch to cope.

We've also seen some tuners experimenting with twincharged applications and making some seriously high power figures, but this requires more complex supporting internal engine mods.

Stinger Fuelling upgrades and Mods

When pushing up the power you will need to increase to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel.

Using high octane petrol is another option if you find you are suffering from detonation or premature ignition on your Kia project after fitting other modified upgrades.

Increasing the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel, (especially in cases where large power gains have been made).

Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned Stinger's uprated injectors.

Intake and Exhaust Upgrades for the Stinger.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. 

On heavily tuned engines and turbo vehicles an induction kit will help release the power providing you address the problem of needing cold air.

Please note that WE DO NOT SEE POWER IMPROVEMENTS WITH INDUCTION KITS, unless you have tuned your car massively and are finding that the standard air intake has become a limitation.

As a best case scenario you might get a better throttle response and little more at the top end, but generally speaking we wouldn't recommend just fitting an induction kit in isolation to your Kia.

For most Stinger engines TorqueCars would suggest you just go with a washable panel air filter.

The JT (Jonny Tig) intake is definitely worth a mention and has attracted a lot of fans. They use good quality filters and have a cold air feed thereby avoiding the No1 issue with most cone filters.

Sports exhausts can usually air flow from the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too large or you might just stuff your flow rate and make things worse. So generally speaking, keep to a size of 3 to 4 inches on the Stinger for best results.

Going for a Stinger exhaust upgrade will not net a massive power gain, peaking at around 3-5% on most engines, but if you've done other mods and are getting a restriction, or you just want a nicer exhaust note then it is good to look at exhausts.

80% of the power gain from an exhaust system comes from the headers/downpipe. So a catback system will not do very much for you.

If legal in your area you could remove the second catalyst, and or replace the primary with a better flowing sports cat, it's generally these that sap the power. Decatting or catless Stinger exhausts are not road legal in most regions and areas, so would only be suitable for off road use.

Kia Stinger Intercooler Upgrades

The Kia intercoolers can certainly be improved, this becomes more important as the power levels increase, the biggest restriction is actually in the pipes feeding the intercooler particularly where they merge, but that said the stock intercooler is not that large, and quickly suffers from heat soak after a spirited drive.

What is an intercooler and what does it do?

An intercooler is effectively a radiator which allows the intake air charge to be cooled before it gets into the engine.

You would ideally mount an intercooler in front of the Kia Stingers radiator so that it benefits from all that nice cold air hitting it.

Top mounted intercooler

It would be plumbed in after the air intake filter and after the turbo or supercharger where most of the heat is added.

Stingers benefit from front mounted intercoolers which sit in front of the radiator and as a result they tend to offer superior air cooling over top mounted intercoolers or other configurations and setups.

You need to take into account the fact that the air reaching the radiator is reduced so you may in extreme cases need to uprate your Stingers radiator to maintain low on track temperatures.

Power benefits from a Stinger Intercooler Mod

However, an intercooler does not increase power; rather, it is one of those modifications that frees up power, thereby eliminating the restriction. The emphasis will be on the engine's capacity to draw in the most amount of air while maintaining the greatest amount of cooling for the longest period of time.

An effective intercooler design may provide the advantage of 5 percent to 10 percent more power while also allowing the vehicle to withstand heat soak for a longer period of time!

Please see our video, which discusses the advantages of installing an intercooler in your vehicle. Make sure to subscribe to our new channel and to show your support.

Front mounted or Top Mounted Stinger Intercooler?

Top mounted intercoolers

  • Pros - shorter path from the compressor to the engine so better air flow and lighter
  • Cons - less cooling as air will need be forced down and hot air rises from the engine bay so will be more prone to get warm quickly. Also it's not easy to install a top mount intercooler on the Stinger.

Front mounted intercoolers

  • Pros - Provides the best cooling as it's facing the air coming into the engine, you generally have more space for a FMIC and they are easier to fit as most OEM intercoolers are at the front or side of the engine bay.
  • Cons - Longer intake path from the compressor to the engine, adds weight to the car

Some cars have from the factory a top mounted intercoolers which suck air in through the bonnet, this may mean that when the car is stationary it is actually being hit by warm air coming from the engine bay.

This can actually improve economy as you are able to burn less fuel because the air is warmer and you certainly don't want to be pulling big power figures whilst ticking over in traffic.

The Subaru Impreza springs to mind as a car with a top mounted intercooler. A top mounted intercooler offers a substantially shorter air flow route into the engine but will need an air scoop on the top to channel air through it potentially causing drag.

All turbo cars will benefit from an intercooler and improvements can be made on the standard factory fit intercoolers. You need to remember that you want to suck as much air into the engine as possible, so if the intercooler internal core hinders airflow you will actually lose some power.

Designing a better Stinger intercooler

All turbocharged vehicles will benefit from the installation of an intercooler, and modifications may be made to the factory-installed intercoolers or more typically you would source a replacement of better quality/capacity when modding your Stinger. It's important to remember that you want to suck in as much air as possible into the engine, so if the internal core of the intercooler interferes with airflow, you will actually lose some horsepower.

The internal flow characteristics of the intercooler, as well as the cooling fins, are the two aspects that make it function well.

As much surface area as possible should be provided by the fins, and the interior core should have the fewest tapering bends and no internal welds that might induce turbulence as much as possible.

Some say that all intercoolers limit airflow, but when you consider the advantages of installing a high-quality intercooler and the small loss of airflow that is inherent in a well-designed intercooler, the argument falls flat.

As a general rule of thumb, you should utilise 3 litres of intercooler capacity for every 100 horsepower you have. This sounds clumsy, but it seems to work effectively for the vast majority of automobiles with between 150 and 400 horsepower!

In actuality, employing an intercooler that is too big might cause airflow to be restricted, making it critical to choose the proper size for the application (this is something that can be discussed in more detail in our forum.) Bigger is not necessarily better in this case!

The pressure loss expected for a boost level of 15 PSI is between.5 and.9 psi, with certain applications losing as much as 1.3 psi in the worst case situation, according to TorqueCars engineers. It is important to remember that, just as rising pressure raises the temperature, reducing pressure is the effect of lowering air temperature; thus, do not blame the intercooler design for the full loss of pressure.

Weight is always a problem in high-performance vehicles, and many aftermarket intercoolers are both lighter and more efficient than their original counterparts, resulting in significant performance improvements.

Alloy Wheel Upgrades for the Stinger.

Alloy wheels can help the brake cooling and are generally less heavy than the steel ones. We can't go into too much detail here about tires but they are how the car puts the power down on the road so are a critical choice.

Directional tread pattern tires work well on Stinger and make a big difference over budget tires. Large Stinger alloys can decrease performance. If you get big alloys you will be changing your final drive ratio.

Although some people have gone larger than this without problems we would restrict ourselves to a 19 inch rim size as the maximum. In the wet, we feel the 18's are superior, but the 19's look much nicer in the Stingers voluminous arches.

Most people we speak to mention the 20' rims pick up lots of scrapes and are not so good in the wet, and tend to tramline, so bear this in mind if you feel tempted to "upgrade" to the 20 inch rims.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss Stinger options in more detail with our Stinger owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Kia tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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3 Responses to “Stinger Tuning Mods”

  1. Treston Trudell says:

    Hi you guys I really liked the article it was very informative, I didn’t realize smaller upgrades such as intake and exhaust had an affect on the performance of the car, I recently just purchased a new 2019 Kia stinger GT, AWD and it’s amazing I’m looking forward to modifying it and I want to do everything the correct way, with least amount of issues on building this car, also I wanted to know if it’s possible to send a general list of where to get parts, or the best kind of parts, I want to get the main performance mods such as intake, exhaust, performance chip, blowoff valves, but would I need to get the car tuned every time I throw down one of these mods or would it better just apply all mods at once then get it Dyno tuned?

  2. Gary Hopper says:

    I found that by removing the air box and running the hose directly to the front air hole and putting air filter material clamped into the hose made a difference as it was more responsive. This way it is directly sucking cold air.

  3. Mike Breacher says:

    Thanks for this great in depth article, plenty of food for thought.

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