CARS.COM — One of the many reasons why the 365-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V-6 2018 Kia Stinger GT is so interesting is its lack of non-luxury competitors. The Chevrolet SS bit the dust, the Ford Taurus and Nissan Maxima can't keep up, and the Dodge Charger doesn't have the Stinger GT's refinement or the handling chops. To find competitors, we have to look upward. That means pitting it against a personal favorite, the 2018 Audi A7.
Related: 2018 Kia Stinger Video Review
I know this comparison will raise eyebrows: "How can you compare a $40,000 Kia to a $70,000 Audi?" But I think the Stinger GT makes a good case for itself in a few areas; it's a closer comparison than it appears at first glance.
On paper, the two match up closely. Both have a distinctive and similar fastback profile, though the A7 has a longer rear overhang, which accounts for most of its 6 inches of additional length. However, the wheelbases of the two cars are within 0.3 inch of each other, and they have similar widths and backseat dimensions.
Engine outputs are closely aligned as well, with the Stinger GT enjoying a slight edge. Its twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 pumps out 365 hp and 376 pounds-feet of torque, which beats the A7's supercharged 3.0-liter V-6's 340 hp and 325 pounds-feet of torque.
Performance-wise, the engines are a wash for me: I love both. It takes a little longer for the Stinger GT to get into the power than the A7, but it still has plenty of kick, and the rear-wheel-drive version loves to get loose when you punch the throttle. The A7's supercharged V-6 counters with immediate responsiveness and acceleration that's appreciated in such a large vehicle. Both come with eight-speed automatic transmissions and can be had with all-wheel drive. The Stinger GT is offered in rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations, while the A7 has standard Quattro all-wheel drive.
One area where the Stinger GT has an advantage over the A7 is weight. RWD models weigh 3,829 pounds and AWD versions are 4,023 pounds, both of which undercut the A7's 4,244 pounds. The Stinger GT's weight advantage and steering tuning (the A7 feels a little over-boosted and light) meant that I preferred the Kia in the bends.
Inside, there's no contest. The A7 has superior materials, seats and interestingly, much better rear visibility. The Stinger GT has a good interior for its class, but that doesn't mean it can keep up with the Audi. The question is though: Is the Audi worth an additional $30,000 to you? Especially since the two have similar feature sets. I prefer the Stinger GT's touchscreen multimedia system by a decent margin (dial controller systems need to go).
The more I compare these two, the more I conclude that the Stinger GT punches above its weight. Is it the A7's true equal? No, the Audi is more refined and quieter inside. But the Stinger GT comes awfully close and that's something worth celebrating.
In his First Drive of the 2018 Stinger, Cars.com Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder said, "the Stinger is a performer that will reward any driver who's not hung up on brand names and history." After spending a week in a Stinger GT, I am in complete agreement. At the end of the day, I'd take home the Kia and pocket the extra cash.
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