Apples to oranges? Maybe… or maybe not

In my mind, the most exciting thing to debut in Detroit this year has to be the Kia Stinger GT. Based on the brand’s GT Concept car that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 2011, as well as the GT4 Stinger concept that debuted in Detroit in 2014, the Stinger GT is a watershed moment for the South Korean automaker. Long story short, this is Kia’s new halo performance machine, and it arrives ready to tangle with some of the most popular European four-doors on the planet. That said, it might seem like a bit of a stretch to put this thing up against a $115K Porsche, right? I mean, have we gone completely loony?!

Woah there, Internet warrior. Put down the keyboard. There’s a method to our madness. While it’s true that any Porsche buyer worth his PDK wouldn’t step within 100 miles of Kia dealership, a gearhead with some 911 wallpaper on his phone making a third as much money a year just might. If there happens to be a few Stinger GT’s waiting for a test drive.

And why not? It’s got a similar body style, and if you get the base model Panamera, straight-line acceleration is roughly the same.

Still… seems like a bit of a stretch, no? Maybe… but maybe not. Continue reading to see what we’re on about.

Continue reading for the full comparison.

Performance

Kia Stinger GT

The Kia Stinger Casts a Big Shadow on the Competition High Resolution Drivetrain AutoShow
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Let’s cut straight to the heart of the matter. Making the Kia Stinger GT move is a 3.3-liter V-6 engine, which is boosted by two turbos to produce 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. Kia is still hammering out the details on this thing, but those are the basic goal it’s got in mind.

Handling the cog swaps is an eight-speed automatic transmission, the only gearbox on the table (more on that in a bit). Applying the power to the ground will be RWD as standard, although there will be the option for AWD as well.

When it’s all said and done, the 0-to-62 mph sprint will take 5.1 seconds to complete. Top speed will be 167 mph.

When it’s all said and done, the 0-to-62 mph sprint will take 5.1 seconds to complete. Top speed will be 167 mph.

Under the skin is an updated chassis from Genesis, while the suspension set-up utilizes MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link in the rear. The suspension also incorporates adaptive dampers, which offer drivers multiple driving modes to suit their tastes and the conditions. There will be five different settings to choose from, each of which modifies the suspension firmness and the quickness of the electric steering rack.

The tires are a super-sticky ultra-high-performance compound staggered at 225/40R19 in front and 255/35R19 in back. A mechanical rear diff will help realize drift dreams for RWD buyers. The stoppers are from Brembo, with four-pot calipers in the front, and two-pot calipers in the rear.

The whole shebang weighs roughly 3,600 pounds, but if you opt into the high-spec 3.3-liter engine and AWD drivetrain, you’ll be sitting at almost 4,000 pounds.

According to Autocar, Kia tested the Stinger GT at the infamous Nurburgring race track, the same proving grounds where just about every other modern performance vehicle cut its teeth. Leading development was Albert Biermann, former VP of engineering at BMW’s M Division, who apparently set the BMW 440i as the handling benchmark.

In the Autocar interview, Mr. Biermann said he made the switch to the South Korean automaker in part because it was building the Stinger GT. “There’s this car and a few others,” he said. “I thought ‘wow, what an interesting challenge.’ I wanted to get them dancing, complete and fun to drive. It was still a concept when I joined, but I guided it. Such a car you never leave alone, you babysit it.”

Porsche Panamera GTS

2018 Porsche Panamera Drivetrain
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The Porsche Panamera GTS comes equipped with a front-mounted 4.8-liter V-8 engine. Peak output is rated at 440 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque.

Like the Stinger GT, the Panamera GTS is only offered with an automatic transmission, which in this case is a PDK seven-speed unit. Making the traction is a standard AWD system.

Performance figures include a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds, while top speed clocks in at 179 mph.

Performance figures include a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds, while top speed clocks in at 179 mph.

The Panamera’s aluminum suspension includes double-wishbones in front and a multi-link for the rear. It’s also got adaptive air components with a self-leveling system, adjustable ride height, and multiple drive modes, all of which fall under the Porsche Active Suspension Management system umbrella. Three selectable drive modes are offered, while Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control comes as standard. The power steering is equipped with a variable ratio.

The tire sizing is staggered at 255/45R19 in front and 285/40R19 in back. The brakes include 6-piston calipers in front and 4-piston calipers in back, with ceramic composite rotors equipped as standard.

Curb weight is rated at 4,244 pounds.

Winner – Porsche Panamera GTS

2018 Porsche Panamera
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Obviously, when it comes down to the straight-up performance numbers, the Porsche walks away as the clear-cut winner. That’s to be expected considering the price difference, not to mention the specialties and focus that each brand brings with it.

That all said, the Kia puts up a very respectable fight. The specs are impressive, and definitely worthy of consideration for anyone looking for fun behind the wheel.

But there are a few issues with the Stinger worth noting. First up is the weight. At nearly two tons for the AWD V-6, I’m a little worried the Stinger GT will be a bit of pig in the corners. Of course, with one of the Bavarian’s M Division hotshots leading the charge, you’d think Kia would find a way to manage all that heft in some reasonable fashion, but still, it’s something to consider.

Second, I’m a bit disappointed there’s no option for a manual transmission. But I’m not surprised – as Mr. Biermann explains in a recent interview with Motor 1, the idea of three pedals was never really even considered. As he says, “There was no request from the marketplace for that. There is no demand.”

Fair enough. Full disclosure – I hope the Stinger GT is a success, and if that means pinching pennies by not catering to us weirdos who prefer to row their own, then so be it. Just maybe do a hardcore performance version with a manual in the future?

Kia Stinger Porsche Panamera GTS
Engine 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 Lambda II 4.8-liter V-8
Horsepower 365 HP @ 6,000 RPM 440 HP @ 6,700 RPM
Torque 376 LB-FT @ 1,300 – 4,500 RPM 384 LB-FT
Transmission eight-speed automatic PDK seven-speed
0 to 60 mph 5.1 seconds 4.2 seconds
Top Speed 167 mph 179 mph
Curb weight 3,600 Lbs 4,244 Lbs
Suspension type MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link in the rear Porsche Active Suspension Management system
Tire size 225/40R19 in front and 255/35R19 255/45R19 in front and 285/40R19 in back
Brake type Brembo, with four-pot calipers in the front, and two-pot calipers in the rear 6-piston calipers in front and 4-piston calipers in back

Styling And Looks

Kia Stinger GT

The Kia Stinger Casts a Big Shadow on the Competition High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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While performance is obviously critical to the success of a sports sedan, visual performance can be equally as important. As such, Kia handed the Stinger GT project to Gregory Guillaume, the automaker’s head of European design.

In an interview with Top Gear back in 2015 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Mr. Guillaume said the production Stinger GT would be “as true as possible to the concept,” and visually speaking, I’d say the result is reasonably close.

2011 Kia GT Concept
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2014 Kia GT4 Stinger
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The Kia Stinger Casts a Big Shadow on the Competition High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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Note: 2011 Kia GT Concept pictured on the left, 2014 Kia GT4 Stinger Concept pictured on the right, production-ready Kia Stinger GT pictured on the bottom.

While certainly more production friendly than its double concept counterparts, I think the mass-market iteration of the Stinger GT is actually the best looking of the three. It’s like the designers took the nicest parts of each of the concepts and dialed them back until they formed a harmonious balance and cohesive package.

In front, the characteristic Tiger Nose grille is sized back to a reasonable dimension, and is complemented by a lower intake with cool-looking fins mounted in the sides. The headlights are aggressive, but not overly done or ultra-thin (as is the style these days), while the profile gets a long, fastback, almost hatchback-like roofline. The tail is round, low, and wide, studded with quad exhaust outlets, while a bevy of vents and scoops can be found front to back.

In the corners, you’ll get 19-inch wheels as standard on the GT model, while lower trims get 18-inch rollers.

Porsche Panamera GTS

2018 Porsche Panamera
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When Porsche unveiled the Panamera back in 2009, its styling was not exactly a hit amongst the critics. Stuttgart essentially took the tried-and-true 911 and made it longer, adding a pair of doors and trimming the rear end. And while the automaker has tweaked it a bit over the years, modifying the look here and there and adding cool elements like a rear wing that pops out of the body like a downforce-generating jack-in-the-box, the basics remain the same.

What else can you really say about the Panamera’s styling? It’s basically a really long 911, and to me, it looks awkward, like a teenager that hasn’t quite grown into his limbs yet.

Winner – Kia Stinger GT

The Kia Stinger GT Might Be The Affordable Korean Panamera GTS You've Been Looking For
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The Kia Stinger GT Might Be The Affordable Korean Panamera GTS You've Been Looking For
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Yeah, it might be subjective, but finding folks who give a thumbs-up to the Stinger GT’s styling aren’t exactly hard to come by. As for fans of the Porsche, well, expect to hear excuses like “it’s still really fast” or “it’s still selling well.”

And that’s true. But that doesn’t mean it looks good.

Comfort And Interior

Kia Stinger GT

2018 Kia Stinger High Resolution Interior
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While we have not yet been offered a road test of the Stinger GT, we did have a chance to sit in one at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. Our man Robert Moore was on the scene and got a chance to sit in one of the show models, and suffice to say, he was impressed.

You can check out his complete breakdown here, but he gave me the gist of it in a recent conversation –

“It was more comfortable than any Bimmer or Audi I sat in by far, and the fit and finish was absolutely amazing. Kia went all out on it. Soft touch surfaces everywhere, I mean the whole nine.”

In the previously mentioned Autocar interview, Mr. Biermann had this to say – “It’s a really sporty car but still a good all rounder. It has a high handling level but is still comfortable and has a spacious interior.”

Porsche Panamera GTS

2018 Porsche Panamera
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When it comes to crafting a sumptuous high-performance interior, Porsche definitely knows its stuff. The look and layout is like that of a luxury fighter jet, with the driver enjoying a commanding position surrounded by the various buttons, switches, and knobs needed to tweak and tune the Panamera’s various drive systems.

Seating capacity is capped at four, with rear-seated passengers separated by the extended central tunnel. Space is ample, and the materials used are of the highest quality. Carbon fiber, brushed aluminum, and contrast stitching are everywhere.

Essentially, the Porsche’s interior is made to go very fast, very comfortably, over long periods of time.

Winner – Porsche Panamera GTS

2018 Porsche Panamera
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Once again, we find the Porsche outclassing its opponent through sheer financial might. Justifying the Panamera’s high price tag is, in part, all the fantastic gear you get in the cabin, and simply put, the Kia can’t keep up.

Is the Stinger GT a nice place to be? Absolutely. But given the choice, I’d rather spend a few hours in the Porsche.

Practicality And Usability

One of the best aspects of a sports sedan is that it manages to marry two seemingly incongruent characteristics – performance and practicality. With that in mind, it makes sense to evaluate both these machines in how usable they are in settings that don’t involve apexes.

Kia Stinger GT

2018 Kia Stinger High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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That handsome extended roofline you see on the Kia should provide it with decent rear cargo room. How much exactly has yet to be revealed, but to give you a rough idea, the four-door’s exterior dimensions measure out at 190.2 inches in length, 73.6 inches in width, and 55.1 inches in height.

And while Kia has yet to release figures on estimated fuel returns as well, I expect the twin-turbo V-6 to post somewhat respectable numbers – after all, this is still a Kia we’re talking about, not some big block V-8 muscle car. There’s also that entry-level turbo four on the table, which makes 252 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque, and presumably, a decent amount of mpg as well.

Finally, in [a recent report from Autocar, it was reported the Stinger would receive both a diesel and all-electric variant some time in the future.

Porsche Panamera GTS

2018 Porsche Panamera
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Of course, the Panamera can do the whole cargo haulin’ thing too, offering up to 15.7 square feet in back. Fold down the seats, and you’ll get 44.6 square feet. And that ain’t bad for a 180-mph sports model.

As for fuel economy, well… here’s the thing – odds are you aren’t buying a six-figure Porsche because you’re looking to save money at the pump. Mileage specs for the GTS’ V-8 are 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. At the same time, though, Porsche is offering a diesel and a hybrid model, so there’s that.

Winner – TIE

It’s hard to judge which vehicle will win this category until Kia gives us some specs on the Stinger GT’s interior cargo space and fuel economy, so for now, let’s just say it’s a wash. However, my gut tells me the Kia will win when it comes to mileage, while the Porsche’s larger exterior dimensions will grant it more cargo room, so I suppose it depends on what’s more important to you.

Pricing And Value

Kia Stinger GT

Kia has yet to divulge pricing for its new sports sedan, and while the experts don’t agree quite yet, we can make a stab at it. Considering the Cadenza starts at $32,000 and the K900 starts at $50,000, we think $46,000 for the Stinger GT feels about right. Meanwhile, the base model should start at around $36,000.

Porsche Panamera GTS

I’ll just come out and say it – the Porsche Panamera GTS starts at a whopping $113,400. And that’s before you even touch the very long (and very pricey) options list.

Premium Package Plus $2,780
Sport Package $5,580
SportDesign Package $5,655
SportDesign Package Painted in Black (High-Gloss) $6,075
SportDesign Side Skirts $1,290
LED-Matrix Headlights incl. Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus (PDLS+) $1,200
ParkAssist (Front and Rear) incl. Surround View $1,190
Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) incl. Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+) $5,000
Rear Axle Steering i.c.w. Power Steering Plus $1,610
Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) $8,960
Sport Chrono Package $2,530
Sport Exhaust System incl. Tailpipes in Silver $3,490
Sport Exhaust System incl. Tailpipes in Black $3,855
Heated Multifunction Steering Wheel in Carbon $790
Burmester® 3D High-End Surround Sound System $5,935
Porsche Rear Seat Entertainment (PRSE) $2,630

Winner – Kia Stinger GT

You’ll likely be able to buy almost two and a half Kia Stinger GT’s for the price of one Porsche Panamera GTS. ‘Nuff said.

Conclusion

Adding up the score, we find the Kia and Porsche tied at two wins apiece. But this is America, and we hate ties, so I’m giving the final win to the Kia, given the fact it can hold its own against one of the most potent sports sedans on the planet.

The Alternatives

Subaru WRX STI

2018 Subaru WRX STI High Resolution Exterior
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Subaru WRX STI- $36,095

Also revealed at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show was the refreshed Subaru WRX and WRX STI. Essentially the same car as before, these hood-scoop-toting four-doors get small updates like minor exterior tweaks, steering responsive headlights, and a few handling updates.

Read the full review here.

Audi S4

2017 - 2018 Audi S4
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Comfortable, elegant, and fast, the Four Rings’ S4 mixes all the right stuff to make a first-class executive sedan. Making it move is a 333-horsepower supercharged V-6, plus loads of grip from the quattro AWD system.

Read the full review here.

Final Thoughts

Look, I know this was a bit of a silly comparison. But we think we can get away with because, so far, the Kia Stinger GT is looking quite good indeed. I think it was the most exciting debut from Detroit this year, not to mention the most exciting debut from Kia… well, ever.

But it must be remembered – there’s a lot of firsts going on here. This is the first Kia to get adaptive damping, and the first with multiple driving modes. But hey, you gotta start somewhere, and as far as first tries are concerned, this one ain’t too shabby.

So what do you think? Did this comparison delight, or enrage you? Go ahead and let those opinions fly in the comments.

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