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  1. #1
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    2018 Audi A5 Sportback vs. 2018 BMW 430i xDrive Gran Coupe, 2018 Kia Stinger AWD - Comparison Tests

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    In this cuckoo-crazy, mixed-up world, nothing is certain and the set order is up for renegotiation. For decades, the four-door sedan was the sensible choice, the vehicle that sober, serious grown-up types bought to show just how sober and serious they really were. But crossovers have toppled the establishment, and now four-doors are struggling to retain relevance. So squash the roofs, pack in the tech, add a practical hatch for the camping equipment, and voila-the sedan is king again. Only now they're four-door coupes. Got it?

    The quasi-coupes under examination today are Audi's A5 Sportback and BMW's 430i xDrive Gran Coupe, with the Kia Stinger here to do its own renegotiating of the set order. The Audi and BMW lead with, and are enabled by, their heritage. They're tweaked expressions of long-established brand identities. Kia is relatively new to the premium realm and has yet to produce a hit there. The Stinger could be it.

    So here are three more or less medium-size hatchbacks, all equipped with longitudinally mounted turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines, each making about 250 horsepower, that feed automatic transmissions with at least seven forward gears. They all have all-wheel drive: The BMW and the Kia are otherwise laid out as conventional rear-drivers, and the Audi, as is its wont, has its engine hung out ahead of the front wheels.

    There are no high-performance pretensions here. The turbo four-pots are base engines in these models. Above them, the S5 Sportback, 440i Gran Coupe, and Stinger GT all feature turbocharged sixes making over 300 horsepower. But the fun stops at that level. There is currently no RS5 Sportback, M4 Gran Coupe, or V-8–powered Stinger. Pity.

    There's leather on the seats and wrapping the steering wheels. We've got some room on our credit cards and Southern California is in flames. So let's slalom around the infernos and rack up some Marriott Rewards points in sensational Bakersfield and luxurious Lancaster.

    Kia's Stinger is the brawler of the group. With its thick shoulders, blunt nose, and muscular stance, it's all pugnacious attitude. But in this octagon of ultimate fighting, it plays Conor McGregor against old Floyd Mayweather and another, younger Floyd Mayweather. Like McGregor, it competes better than expected and fights for less money.

    The Stinger is the largest car here. Its 114.4-inch wheelbase outstretches the Audi's by 3.2 inches and the BMW's by 3.8. It's also longer overall and wider, with wider wheel tracks. Surprisingly, it weighs in seven pounds lighter than the BMW, even if it's up 127 on the Audi.

    In general layout, the Stinger's suspension is similar to the BMW's, with struts in front and a multilink system in back. The base Stinger's suspension tuning is straightforward, well considered, and not plagued by the indecision found in the Stinger GT's electronically controlled dampers. And the electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering reports to the driver with more linear predictability than the BMW. But its 225/45R-18 all-season Bridgestones have lower limits than the Audi's wider, summer-only unfair-advantage-spec treads, and so the Stinger doesn't have that car's lightning turn-in and it noses into understeer earlier. That's reflected in the slalom performance where the Stinger slid through at 43.9 mph-behind the Audi by 1 mph but ahead of the BMW by 0.3 mph. While the ride is comfortable and the car lopes along the highway unperturbed at 90 mph, the trip is accompanied by a bit of tire roar, which can become annoying on extended drives.

    Rated at 255 horsepower with a consistent 260 pound-feet of torque between 1400 and 4000 rpm, the Stinger's engine reveals some noticeable Optima SX Turbo grind. And the eight-speed torque-converter automatic is lazy. There's some frolic to be found using the paddle shifters in the lower five gears, but the top three are all cruising overdrives. The modest, third-place 6.1-second zero-to-60 time reflects the transmission's lack of urgency rather than a power deficit.

    There's a muscle-car-throwback vibe to the Stinger's interior, from the 1969 Mustang-like T-handle shifter to the hurricane airflow from the three massive eyeball vents at the dash's center. There's also a lack of rearward visibility that's pure '69 Mach 1. The front seats are less supportive than the Germans', but the Uber-friendly rear seat is the roomiest of the bunch, with the best cargo room behind it. However, this is the one car that, as equipped, lacks a power-closing rear hatch.

    This is also the only car here that uses a touchscreen infotainment system, and it's a seven-incher that the driver needs to stretch to reach. Honda and Volvo do screens better, but the Stinger's is at least more straightforward than the input devices that BMW has devised-if not as sophisticated.

    Kia is reaching with the Stinger in general, and some of the effort shows. It's a bit overdecorated on the outside, a touch stark on the inside, and the whole car feels a quarter-turn of the nut looser than its competitors. But its $37,000 test price is a spectacular $14,050 below that of the Audi and $16,885 below the BMW's. That's a more than 25 percent discount for a prestige-free Kia that competes ably with two of the luxury market's acknowledged standard-bearers. A Kia that ties with a BMW-that's dogs and cats sleeping together.






    Read more on Car and Driver.

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    Why couldn't they just retest the Audi on all season tyres. Pretty lame just switching drivers for the retest if you ask me, seems like C&D are afraid the pecking order might not turn out they way they wanted.

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    That would be - possibly - correct. It's called Car & Audi for a reason you know. ; )

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkyMark View Post
    That would be - possibly - correct. It's called Car & Audi for a reason you know. ; )
    Looks like I fell for that one

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    Realities today are such that car differences, in many instances, are down to splitting hairs. Once upon a time, when the main choices in the automotive world were compact, mid-side or truck (with a few variants beyond of course), BMW, Audi and Mercedes were focused on luxury, power and performance. And if you moved from a non-luxury brand vehicle to a luxury brand, there was a stark difference.

    But a funny thing happened along the way in competition-land. While Luxury Brands were tweaking and refining, the mainstream brands were busy fragmenting the market. Creating Mini-Vans, SUV's (Chrysler, Ford - thank you). The battle for sales volumes in a fragmented market became absolutely fierce, and as a result, quality and technology rose at a rapid rate.

    Today? If you sat in a Mazda 6 it would be splitting hairs between it and a BMW interior. Styling is different if not subjective and quality is hardly a stronghold of the Germans.

    High-end main-stream sedans are butting heads with entry-level luxury vehicles. It's a great time, and yet a scary time for luxury brands, as Buick, Kia, Genesis, and others bring forth cars that give little need to move north into a highly priced luxury label.

    There will always be a market for those that want the badge of a luxury brand, or those that are sport enthusiasts that will get into an M-series BMW.

    Yet there are the Honda Accord's of the world which rival quasi-luxury vehicles technologies and abilities... which does beg the question as to why Acura even has a TLX (beyond the corporation showcasing they can design the same car twice, both with equally great features and bad styling queues. Quite a feat...).

    I've seen or read just about every review under the sun regarding the Stinger. I've seen some pick on some nutty things on the interior, but I've never seen a review pick on Audi's S5 not being able to release the truck while the car is on (seriously...), or that it's a really cramped vehicle all around. Driver, passenger and certainly the back seats.

    Labels are going to me less and less moving forward, and Germans are going to have to figure out how to play in the new game of performance and luxury, at a reasonable price. Way to take the fight to Ingolstadt Kia! Go Stinger!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robs View Post
    Why couldn't they just retest the Audi on all season tyres. Pretty lame just switching drivers for the retest if you ask me, seems like C&D are afraid the pecking order might not turn out they way they wanted.
    They did and it's noted in the magazine printed article. Did drop Audi by a few points but still came in first place against BMW and Kia.

    For performance either Audi is sandbagging the engine power or the DCT is that good. Apparently Kia's thorn is the sloppy shifting 8 spd.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubbabiker View Post
    They did and it's noted in the magazine printed article. Did drop Audi by a few points but still came in first place against BMW and Kia.

    For performance either Audi is sandbagging the engine power or the DCT is that good. Apparently Kia's thorn is the sloppy shifting 8 spd.
    Re-read the retest portion, my bad!

 

 
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