Used test: Audi S5 Sportback vs Kia Stinger GT S

These two performance cars offer both style and substance, but which one makes the best used buy? We have the answer...

Used test: Audi S5 Sportback vs Kia Stinger GT S

The Contenders

Audi S5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI quattro S tronic

List price when new: £48,850

Price today:  £31,100 

Available from: 2017-present

The S5 Sportback delivers pace, space and style in performance-car bundles.

Kia Stinger GT S

List price when new:  £40,495

Price today: £28,300

Available from:  2018-present

It still takes some getting used to, but this is a racy-looking, 365bhp, rear-wheel-drive Kia.

Price today is based on a 2018 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

You have to hand it to Kia. Not only has the South Korean firm shifted public perception in recent years by offering a range of fine-driving and competitively priced family cars - where once its often overlooked offerings were rather more humble -  it’s also made them available with an unmatched seven-year warranty. 

Then, to go the whole hog and reboot the company’s image completely, a couple of years ago it introduced the Stinger, a rear-wheel-drive fastback executive car fit to rival the big boys from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. And as if that weren’t enough, the top-of-the-range Stinger is this V6 GT S version, a 365bhp and 168mph humdinger. 

New, it would have set you back around £40,000, but here we’re testing it at just under two years old, at which age you can put one on your driveway for the price of a modest family SUV. We’re pitting it against that doyen of fast, stylish, executive transport, the Audi S5 Sportback. Which makes the most sense bought at this age? Read on to find out. 

What are they like to drive? 

In terms of firepower, it’s pretty even: both cars have turbocharged V6 petrol engines, and while the Stinger’s is slightly bigger and more powerful, the S5 counters that by weighing a bit less. Both cars send their power through eight-speed automatic gearboxes, although in the S5 it’s then fed to all four corners, whereas in the Stinger it goes to the rear wheels only. 

New Kia Stinger GT S vs Audi S5 Sportback

 This makes a difference in how they get away from a standstill. Select Dynamic mode in the S5 to, among other things, sharpen its accelerator response and it catapults to 60mph in just 4.4sec.

Even after deploying its standard launch control system, having two fewer wheels to lay down the power means the Stinger is slower away from the line. But not by much: on a dry road, it still launches without drama and pings itself to 60mph in 4.8sec. And besides, it’s only that initial scrabble off the line where the S5 has the edge; bury the accelerator at 30mph and they’re neck and neck as they pile on speed.

New Kia Stinger GT S vs Audi S5 Sportback

Even in its Sport+ attack mode, the Stinger’s V6 sounds purposeful but restrained, while the S5’s fruitier exhaust snarl is more invigorating. It can get wearing after a while, though; at a steady 70mph, that parp still resonates in the background, even in the car’s quietest Comfort mode. So, despite having similar levels of wind noise and slightly less road roar than the Stinger, the S5 is no more relaxing at speed.

Then there’s the S5’s ride. From new, you could have added the optional adaptive dampers, but our car came with standard passive suspension, which is firm. It jolts and jostles you around town and fidgets constantly on anything but newly rolled asphalt.

The Stinger comes with adaptive dampers as standard. Set these to Comfort mode and, while it’s not as smooth-riding as the best executive cars, for something purporting to be a sporty GT it’s pretty darn good. It certainly takes the sting out of all but the worst abrasions, albeit with a bit of suspension noise.

However, on twisty B-roads, the S5 is devastatingly fast. Even in slippery conditions, its four-wheel drive lets you pour on the power out of slow corners with minimal fuss and, with the exception of its slightly lazy, anodyne steering, it gives you so much confidence. Disadvantaged again by rear-wheel drive, the Stinger is slower along any twisty road. Yet the fact it’s more playful and feels more alive make it way more fun at sensible road speeds.