- New Kia Stinger arrives to take on German rivals
- Can it defeat VW Arteon and Audi A5 Sportback?
- Which is the best five-door premium hatchback?
Everybody seems to want an SUV these days, but what if you want a good, old-fashioned hatchback or saloon?
There's still a good number out there, with a growing number of manufacturers introducing style-focused five-door hatchback versions of premium saloons, such as the Audi A5 Sportback, Volkswagen Arteon and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.
WATCH our Kia Stinger vs Audi A5 Sportback twin test video below:
Kia wants in on the action, so here's the Stinger, a sleek five-door hatchback that looks like a coupe, with suitably sharp styling.
Does it have what it takes to beat the upmarket competition from Audi and VW?
What are the model ranges like?
Really rather simple, actually. We’ll start off with the trim levels – there’s three of them on offer ranging from base GT-Line, to mid-spec GT-Line S and flagship GT S.
All are generously equipped, but the latter has just about all the standard kit you could possibly expect and comes in 370hp 3.3-litre V6 guise only. Note that, aside from paint colours, no optional extras are available on any Stinger.
Other engine options include a 247hp 2.0-litre petrol and a 200hp 2.2-litre diesel. All engines come as standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Audi A5 Sportback
At the other end of the spectrum is the A5 Sportback range, awash with countless engine, trim and gearbox combinations that could become a little confusing if you're wondering which model is best for you.
There's a choice of SE, Sport, S Line and S5 trims, the latter of which comes exclusively with a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with Quattro all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. That's the sporty one out of the way.
The rest of the engine options consist of 1.4- and 2.0-litre TFSI petrols, ranging in power from 150hp to 252hp, with a choice of six-speed manual and seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmissions depending on the version.
If you prefer diesel, there are two 2.0-litre TDI units to choose from with 150hp or 190hp (the latter of which can also be specified with Quattro) with manual and S Tronic options, as well as a silky-smooth 3.0-litre TDI with 218hp or 252hp.
It may come as little surprise that the Arteon's range is very similar to the A5's since the companies are closely related - VW owns Audi. Just two trim levels keep the range simpler than the Audi's, with Elegance and R-Line to pick between.
If you want petrol power, there's a 1.5-litre TSI with 150hp, a 2.0-litre TSI with 190hp or 280hp. Both 2.0-litre units are seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatics, the latter of which also comes with 4Motion all-wheel drive.
The diesel selection is just as plentiful, with several 2.0-litre engines. There's a choice of 150hp, 190hp and 240hp (a twin-turbocharged BiTDI unit with 4Motion and standard DSG automatic), while the rest can be specified with manual or automatic gearboxes.
What are they like inside?
First impressions of the interior are promising with plenty of leather and soft touch materials on display. Dig a little deeper, however, and it soon starts to fall behind its German rivals. The infotainment system isn’t as easy to use as the Audi’s or Volkswagen’s, plus there’s a plasticky feel to some of the buttons and surfaces.
It’s not enough to spoil the interior, yet it does put the cabin firmly behind the Arteon and A5 Sportback.
Audi A5 Sportback
The A5's interior is easily the nicest in this test. With a slick, modern design that's not too flash and with plenty of different combinations for the seats and dashboard trim, it's just a lovely place to sit.
The materials are all top drawer, with precision to the controls and some nice details such as the touch sensitive buttons for the climate control, Audi's Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster and easy-to-use MMI infotainment system.
The Arteon's interior doesn't quite match the rakishness of the exterior, lifted pretty much wholesale from the straight-laced Passat. There are certainly worse cars to share an interior with, but there's little to differentiate the two.
That does mean there are some nice touches like the full-width air vent, large, bright touchscreen and high-quality materials. It's very polished, but unexciting.
Will my family fit?
Rear legroom is reasonable, although anyone even slightly taller than an average human will struggle with the amount of headroom on offer. Also, the high window line in the back means young children may not be able to see out.
The Stinger's boot is easy to access thanks to a large hatchback-style tailgate that leaves a wide loading bay (GT-Line S and GT S models also benefit from an electronic tailgate as standard).
There’s a decent amount of luggage capacity on offer, but it does lag behind both the Arteon and A5 Sportback for outright space, at 406 litres. That's only a few litres behind the far smaller Kia Ceed's 395-litre boot.
Audi A5 Sportback
With a similar roofline, the A5 suffers in the same way the Stinger does in that there's plenty of legroom, but the swooping roofline eats into headroom and limit access slightly. However, two adults won't feel too hemmed in, but a third rear passenger will find the middle seat a squeeze.
At the rear of the car, the hatchback makes it more practical than the equivalent A4 Saloon, and overall space of 480 litres beats the Kia's 406-litre load bay. An electric tailgate also makes life a little easier.
The Arteon's hatchback body style lends it an extra edge in the practicality stakes when compared with its four-door saloon Passat brother. A 563-litre boot is by far the most impressive here, with easy access and a nice, square load bay.
Interior space is good, too, with plenty of room for four tall adults, although as with most cars of this shape, the middle rear seat will be cramped for most. Still, it goes to show that just because a car looks sleek and sporty, it's not necessarily impractical.
What are they like to drive?
In 2.2-litre CRDi diesel form the Stinger provides plenty of pace and real-world pulling power, accelerating from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds. That means it’s perfect for swallowing big motorway miles or swooping past slower vehicles on a straight piece of road.
It’s not the most refined of engines, mind, and does sound gruff throughout the rev range – especially when worked hard. What’s more, the eight-speed automatic gearbox is smooth enough, but can be sluggish.
What’s not sluggish, is the way the Stinger goes around corners. Thanks to its rear-wheel drive layout, it feels notably more agile and enjoyable to drive than both the Arteon and A5 Sportback - most of which are front-wheel drive, yet still provides plentiful grip levels when called upon. It strikes a neat balance between being sharp and pointy enough for enthusiastic drivers, while remaining stable and easy to drive.
The ride on standard suspension could do with a little more polish and struggles to settle at low speeds, yet high-speed motorway cruising manners are far more impressive.
Audi A5 Sportback
The A5 is designed for long-distance touring, and the 2.0-litre TDI 190 diesel is an excellent fit. It's refined at a cruise and punchy when you demand a little extra oomph.
Quattro all-wheel drive is fitted to this particular version, meaning traction levels are high in slippery conditions, providing a little more reassurance than in the Stinger. It's not as fun to fling around bends as the Kia, though, making for more of a safe and secure drive than an especially fun one.
Most A5s will be sportier S Line models with stiffer suspension and larger alloy wheels, but the combination of this Sport model with its smaller alloy wheels and higher profile tyres mean it rides very well indeed. And if you spec the optional adaptive dampers, it's a very relaxed and comfortable car for long journeys.
A 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds puts it on a similar pegging to the Stinger, and the S Tronic gearbox works its way through the gears quickly and smoothly.
The engine under the bonnet of this particular Arteon is a 150hp 2.0-litre TDI with a 9.1-second 0-62mph time. It would be unfair to compare these exact models, so it's worth pointing out that the higher-output 190hp 2.0 TDI is lifted straight from the A5, and will complete the 0-62mph sprint in 7.8 seconds.
Like the A5, the Arteon is an effective car for undertaking long motorway journeys in comfort and quiet, but not an especially fun one on a twisty road like the Stinger or BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.
The switchable driving modes and adaptive suspension (optional on some models but standard on others) mean it corners with agility and minimal bodyroll, as well as offering a composed ride with variable levels of damping. It's just that there's not much feedback coming back to the driver in any mode, making the Stinger the most involving here.
Finance and running costs
The Stinger diesel’s claimed fuel economy figure of 50.4mpg isn’t that impressive when compared to the Arteon and A5 Sportback, yet we did find it returned over 50mpg in the real world – making it far more competitive.
If you're purchasing this particular Stinger on finance (a 2.2 CRDi GT-Line S), it'll set you back £581 per month.
Audi A5 Sportback
The A5 pictured here is a 2.0-litre TDI 190 Quattro Sport S Tronic (get that?) at £553 per month, but you can upgrade to a sportier-looking S Line model that still costs less than the Kia at £580 per month, and that'll still come with the same engine and gearbox combo with Quattro. That makes the Audi even more appealing. If you don't need Quattro all-wheel drive, a front-wheel drive S Line will set you back £558 per month.
Audi has lofty claims for the A5's fuel economy, suggesting 61.4mpg for the TDI 190 Quattro S Line S Tronic, while the front-wheel drive Ultra version of this engine offers up to 67.3mpg, but it's unlikely you'll see this figures in everyday driving.
Putting both the Kia and Audi to shame, the Arteon pictured here (a 2.0 TDI 150 DSG Elegance) costs £417 per month. However, to match the other two in terms of performance and sportier looks, you'll need a 2.0 TDI 190 DSG R-Line, which only comes with 4Motion all-wheel drive. That's no big deal, though, as it still comes in at less than the other two - at £496 per month.
The Arteon's claimed economy sits between the other two, with up to 55.4mpg from the 2.0 TDI 190 DSG. A lesser-powered front-wheel drive 2.0 TDI 150 DSG will return up to 62.8mpg according to VW.
The Parkers Verdict
The three of these cars all go about being a sleek five-door hatchback in slightly different ways. It's the A5 Sportback that takes the win here, though. That's due to it feeling the most premium model by some margin, largely down to its fine interior with high-quality materials and excellent ergonomics.
You don't really need Quattro all-wheel drive (or the stacks of extras on the options list) which brings it closer to the Arteon in terms of price. The VW comes in second here, and it's the one to go for if you want the greatest practicality, but the interior isn't different enough from the Passat to warrant the higher price, despite its rakish looks.
That means the Stinger comes in third. It's the most enjoyable to drive here and arguably looks the most interesting - probably due to it being unfamiliar - but the range isn't as far-reaching as the other two and the cabin quality can't match up to its German rivals. It's a solid effort, but its high finance costs seal its fate in third.
*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available at the time of writing.