Even just five years ago, if I had told you that there was a KIA that could compete with an Audi S-badged car, you’d laugh in my face. And rightfully so, as KIA has never been one to make performance machines. Affordable and reliable transportation, sure. Performance? Nope. Now, though, the Korean brand is dead-set flipping the script and taking Zee Germans head on. So has it worked, can KIA actually take on a brand with a rich performance history, like Audi? Auto Express finds out in this latest comparison test between the Audi S5 Sportback and the all-new KIA Stinger GT S.
Based on Hyundai/KIA’s new rear-wheel drive chassis developed for the Genesis line of cars, the KIA Stinger has all the right ingredients for a great sports car. Its rear-drive nature means it actually has the chops to handle like a proper sports car. Throw in a 365 hp twin-turbocharged 3.3 liter V6 (in the Stinger GT S variant), an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters and a limited-slip rear differential and you have a great sports car recipe. So on paper, it’s very good. But is it actually good enough in the rear world to take on a bonafide performance machine like the Audi S5 Sportback? AE seems to think so.
The Audi S5 Sportback is certainly a good competitor on paper. Its 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 engine makes 354 hp and is also mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. While the KIA Stinger is rear-wheel drive, the Audi S5 Sportback sports Quattro all-wheel drive. Normally, it only gets an open rear differential, there’s an optional limited-slip rear diff which is highly recommended.
In terms of performance figures, both cars are very close, which is already a win for the underdog KIA. From 0-60 mph, the Audi S5 Sportback is faster, doing the sprint in 4.7 seconds, rather than the KIA’s 4.9 seconds. However, that’s mostly thanks to its all-wheel drive grip. In-gear pull is better on the KIA, where it accelerates from 30-50 mph and 50-70 mph faster than the Audi by a tenth or two. So it’s no slouch, the KIA.
What’s even more impressive is that AE felt the KIA Stinger was actually the more enjoyable car to drive. The Audi S5 Sportback is pretty well understood at this point. While it isn’t the most engaging sports car on the road, its steering is sharp and accurate, its grip is tenacious and its performance is impressive. Plus, its Quattro grip means that it’s equally as impressive in bad weather as it is in the dry, maybe even more so in the wet. So it’s a superb all-around sports car. However, the KIA Stinger GT S is said to have better steering and more enjoyable driving dynamics. Plus, its rear-drive nature makes it feel more naturally balanced than the Audi S5 Sportback.
When it comes to refinement, fit and finish, of course the Audi wins. The S5 Sportback’s cabin is far superior to the KIA’s and so is its tech. Though, it’s also much more expensive, so it better be. Still, it’s not exactly as if the cabin of the KIA is Turkish prison. It’s still very nice and has all of the kit you’ll need.
In the end, AE named the KIA the victor of this comparison test, which is a huge, huge win for KIA. Whether or not you agree with that conclusion, it’s an incredibly achievement that KIA’s first attempt at a rear-wheel drive sports car has been able to win some comparison tests against established German sports cars.