2022 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD V6 vs. 2022 Audi S3 Saloon: Battle of the “S” sports sedans
This week: Kia Stinger
Price: $55,655 as tested. Silver Paint, $495; red interior, $295; mats and a cargo net, $330.
Conventional wisdom: Car and driver loves the “powerful optional V-6, sexy lines with practical hatchback, even the base model offers a premium look and feel”, while it “can feel restless on fast, twisty roads, the interior trim is a little less chic than the German rivals”, who also lack the badge of the luxury brand.”
Talk from the marketer: “Refined appearance. Reinforced power.”
Reality: The Stinger is a lot of fun, but it’s hard to be the fool.
Contest: I was figuring out my car setup and trying to decide what goes where when I spied the Stinger and the S3. The two performance sedans seem like perfect competition even in price – just a few hundred dollars apart – although the large hatchback Stinger is hard to categorize.
The Stinger has a definite size advantage — sort of — but I don’t think that’s going to tip the scales.
Edmunds calls it a mid-sized sedanwhere it competes with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, but that’s not really fair either.
What’s new: The Stinger is evolving a bit for 2022 with the new details in the exterior lighting, plus some other minor changes.
A lesser GT-Line version of the Stinger remains with less horsepower and a lower price than the tested model.
At speed: The Stinger stays sharp under acceleration. The 368 horsepower 3.3-liter V-6 turbo takes the big hatchback to 60 mph in a rocket-like 4.7 seconds, according to Kia.
Necks were definitely broken making this review. You don’t get as much butterfly-inducing g-force as in an EV6 or other electrified unit, but the Stinger is still fast.
Shifty: The 8-speed automatic transmission is operated with a joystick. This one has a wide, square top – push forward for Reverse and pull for Drive. Press the P for Park.
Paddle shifters allow for manual shifting.
On the road: The Stinger does a remarkable job for a roomy sedan by providing handling that is almost fun. It’s no Audi or BMW, but Kia gets us pretty close, making all kinds of country roads and even city rides enjoyable.
Traveling on the highway is also still comfortable. I had the chance to take the Stinger to Philadelphia and Delaware during the week of testing and found the car to be a calm, smooth companion. However, simply switch off the steering assistance; Kias and I don’t get along in this mode.
Driver’s seat: The comfortable Stinger seat also contributes to the all-round good time. The headrest in particular stands out because it’s about as soft as the fluffiest rabbit you’ve ever met. It’s so soft I’m afraid it would rock me to sleep. (But to counter that, see Up to Speed above.)
Friends and stuff: The rear seats are roomy, but not nearly as much as the Stinger’s long profile might predict. The leg and foot room is just adequate, and the headroom is a bit cramped. A middle passenger faces a high hump and an intrusive console.
The hatchback really turns this long, low sedan into a remarkably versatile vehicle, and it’s worth mentioning.
Cargo space is 23.1 cubic feet behind the second row.
Play some tunes: Kia offers an upgraded stereo system from Harman Kardon. The functionality remains great, with buttons for volume and tuning, buttons to move around and a 10.25-inch touchscreen that’s easy to follow and see.
The sound of the system is really good, about an A-, just that certain something-something is missing.
Keeping warm and cool: Rotary knobs control the temperature and knobs control the rest of the functions, typical simple Kia configuration. With dials for the center vents, they’re super easy to aim.
Night shift: The headlights usually shine brightly and the interior lighting does not interfere.
Fuel economy: I struggled to get to 20 mpg in a quick test lap.
Where it was built: Sohari, South Korea
How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts that Stinger reliability will be a 3 out of 5.
Next week: Audi S3