The Audi A7 was a pathbreaking car upon its launch – a blend of four door coupe and a sporty ride. With the 2017 model year, both the A7 and its mainstream performance version – the S7 – entered second generation. We’ll leave an RS7 comparison for later – when Kia brings us a special high performance version of the Stinger.
While the A7 is the more affordable option, the S7 is the more powerful one. Both cars are very attractive, luxurious and carry the badge of a German company. However in 2018, the established sheriffs of the town are challenged by a relatively new gunslinging foreign outlaw – the Kia Stinger!
The new Kia Stinger sees a paradigm shift from old Kia sedans to a modern and supremely powerful luxury vehicle. This one is not for the faint hearted as can be seen from the performance figures of the Stinger – especially if you consider the GT trim. Striking a perfect balance between power and refinement, Kia’s engineers have done an exceptional job in taking on the likes of Audi. The result of this is a finely tuned automobile with a perfect blend of comfort, aggressive styling and impressive power.
The Stinger possesses a lovely fastback silhouette along with spot on proportions. At 190 inches long, it has a lot of body – but the tight skinning means it doesn’t look bulky from any angle. At the front is Kia’s trademark ‘tiger nose’ grille that catches the attention of any onlooker and is smartly flanked by headlights that just run over to the body work.
Along with vertical side vents, the large center air dam adds much needed substance to the face of the car. The air vents at the side are surprisingly functional, marrying practicality and good looks.
The A7 has an ice cool finish with signature Audi stamps all over the car. A fastback roofline adds flair and hatchback practicality to this big luxury sedan. The S7 isn’t much different and the Sportback silhouette makes these stand apart from other four door coupes.
Upon entering the Stinger, you realize that the cabin is well equipped with heated and ventilated leather seats, an 8 inch touchscreen infotainment system, bluetooth connectivity and lots of high tech safety. While Kia has matched its German rivals in terms of exterior design and performance, it’s slightly behind in interior quality and materials. Then again, it offers everything at a considerably lower price than its rivals. For many buyers, this is an acceptable trade off. However, Kia in no way compromises the comfort of its passengers. The Stinger is a true grand tourer.
The Stinger’s hatch space is quite large – and while it may not be quite as roomy as the Audis and BMWs it competes with – there’s more than enough room to carry sufficient weekend luggage for a family of five. Inside, the Audis win as far as superior material quality and better rear visibility – but the feature sets are quite similar. Then again, even BMW trails behind Audi as far as interior quality is concerned.
Engine & Performance
Featuring three trims, the Stinger comes with two engine options. The base and premium trims run on a 2.0 liter turbo inline four cylinder pumping out 255 hp. These figures take on the likes of BMW, Audi and Lexus as it scoots 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds. The top end Kia Stinger GT has a 365-hp twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 at its heart and is one of the quickest models as far as all-wheel-drive cars in the segment. This one reaches 60 mph in a very impressive 4.4 seconds.
The car’s acceleration is very smooth while steering effort is moderate. Driving in Sport mode makes the car more energetic and powerful. The Stinger is highly responsive as soon as you start turning the wheel. Yet the tires never leave the ground, which is welcome and expected in a sporty sedan. The Stinger does exhibit some body roll even when the dampers are in sport mode – as it’s main priority is luxury. Still, the Stinger GT handles impressively and is very fun to drive around tight corners.
The A7 runs on a 3.0 liter supercharged V6, churning out 340 hp and 325 lb ft torque, mated to an 8 speed automatic transmission. On paper, the A7 still falls short of the Stinger GT’s numbers. While it takes some time for the Stinger GT to get into the same power as the A7, it offers much more kick, especially in rear wheel drive form.
As for the S7, it uses 4.0 liter twin turbo V8 rated at 450 hp and 406 lb ft torque. In terms of sheer numbers – the S7 wins the power battle with a 3.9 second run to 60 miles per hour – a half second quicker than the Stinger GT. Then again, the S7 uses on a 4.0 liter V8 and not a 3.0 liter V6.
One area the Stinger GT beats the A7 is weight. While rear wheel drive versions of the Stinger GT weigh 3829 lbs, the all wheel drive versions are 4023 lbs. Both of them are lighter than A7 Quattro all wheel drive version of 4243 lbs. The lighter weight and steering of the Kia means it’s better at handling sharp turns and offers a smoother ride overall.
It’s fair to say the Audi A7 and S7 are built with better materials and more premium components. However, the Stinger is the best vehicle Kia has ever made, uses Audi’s very old ex-designer, and it exceeds expectations in terms of design quality and performance to a great extent.
What’s more, all this is available at a much lesser price, narrowing the gap between the two automakers dramatically. The main question here is – are you willing to shell out around $30,000 extra for the badge of a German carmaker with a marginally more upscale interior?