The fact that Kia decided to take on the largely established luxury sedan segment with the Stinger speaks volumes about the Korean carmaker’s ambitions. What’s more, it largely succeeds in doing this as the Stinger offers almost everything available in its German rivals and at a relatively cheaper price. Kia has come a long way in the past few years, especially shedding its image of making stylish hatchbacks and SUVs that lacked the performance figures to go head to head against its rivals. With the Stinger, Kia has improved its focus on the overall performance of its product and yet maintains its design’s unique selling proposition.
Meanwhile, the Audi A5 Sportback is very much like the A4 sedan but with a fastback roofline, a big boost in performance and some minor interior/exterior tweaks.
So does the Kia Stinger manage to hold its own against the A5 and S5 Sportbacks from Audi? Let’s have a look…
The aggressively styled Stinger is a step forward for the South Korean carmaker. Unlike most production cars, the Stinger closely resembles the appearance of the concept car which first debuted in 2011. Its stance is wide and low with a sleek roofline complementing the aggressive grille at the front. This helps the car stand out in a crowded parking lot many different cars.
The A5 and S5 Sportback are pretty similar in design except the latter has sharper lines down the side, larger headlights that run up to the hood and a much larger “Audiesque” grille.
Stretching 190 inches long, standing at 55 inches high and with a width of 77 inches (excluding mirrors), the Kia Stinger is much larger than most of the cars in its segment, including the A5 and S5 Sportback. While the Sportback version of the A5 is 186 inches long, the S5 is 187 inches. Both stand tall at 54 inches and have the same width of 72 inches.
Sitting inside the Stinger, you’ll find the cabin is well equipped with heated and ventilated leather seats, an 8 inch touchscreen infotainment system, soft touch materials and various luxury amenities. While Kia has matched its German rivals in terms of exterior design and performance, it isn’t 100% up to par as far as materials on the inside are concerned. Then again, it offers everything it does at a considerably lower price than the Audi A5/S5. For many buyers, this is an acceptable trade off. However, the Stinger in no way compromises the comfort of its passengers.
Both the Kia and the Audi come with an electrical adjustable steering column and four way adjustment lumbar support for the driver’s seat. The front passenger seats of the Stinger offer 38 inches of headroom and 43 inches of legroom, while the rear seats have 37 inches of both headroom and legroom. The Audi A5 and S5 Sportbacks have 39 inches of headroom and 42 inches of legroom up front and 37 inches and 35 inches head and legroom respectively in the back. By sheer numbers, the Stinger is more roomy than its Audi competition. However, the Audis score higher in the use of premium materials and craftsmanship. Let’s be honest, not many brands compete well with Audi interiors – but Kia did a great job here…
Engine & Performance
The Kia Stinger is available in three trims with two engines. The base and premium trims run on a 2.0 L turbo inline four cylinder pumping out 255 horsepower. The top end Kia Stinger GT has a 365-hp twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 at its heart and is one of the fastest models as far as all-wheel-drive cars in the segment go.
The brakes of the Stinger are gradual and not grabby, which is pretty good for bumper to bumper traffic. While at high speeds, the brakes need a little bit more effort to bring the car to a sudden stop. This is however made up for with sticky summer tires.
Sport mode wakes things up and makes the car more energetic and powerful. The Stinger is highly responsive as soon as you start moving the steering wheel – yet the tires never feel like leaving they’re the road, which is welcome and perfect for a sporty grand touring sedan. Even when the dampers are in the sport mode, the vehicle exhibits a little body roll. Having said that, the Stinger GT has amazing handling and is very fun car to drive around tight corners – after turning off stability control, of course.
The A5 Sportback has a 252 horsepower turbocharged four cylinder engine and standard all-wheel drive. Meanwhile the S5 Sportback, which is the more performance oriented of the two, uses on a 354 horsepower turbocharged V6. Both these Audis have excellent power and handling capabilities, coming close to meeting the Stinger’s numbers – yet just falling short! They can make anyone seem like a great driver on sharp turns – yet never compromise the luxury experience
While the S5 Sportback reaches 0-60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds, the A5 Sportback does it in 5.7. The Stinger, in this case, comes in third at 5.9 seconds – but the powerful Stinger GT does it in 4.4, taking the crown…
While the Stinger holds more cargo compared to the Audis, the Germans have better fuel economy. The Stinger’s combined EPA estimate is 24 miles per gallon while the A5 Sportback has a combined 27. The S5 Sportback and Stinger GT have combined EPGs of 24 mpg and 21 mpg respectively.
It’s fair to say that the Audi A5 and S5 Sportbacks are built with better materials and premium components making them stronger and more luxurious. However, the Stinger is the highest quality product Kia has ever made, was developed by Audi designers, and far exceeds expectations in terms of exterior design quality, interior feel and performance. What’s more, all of this is available at a much lower price point, narrowing the gap between the two automakers dramatically.
In the end, it all comes down to what you prefer more: value for money or prestige of brand. Then again, you could always rebadge your Stinger for that premium brand feel…
While Audi buyers won’t give up on their brand so easily, the value and performance of the Stinger is making plenty of buyers turn their focus to the new kid on the block…