Putting the Arteon and Stinger to the road test
2020 Volkswagen Arteon 4Motion 2.0T Premium R-Line vs. 2020 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD: Battle of the vehicles you’d love to drive but won’t ever consider.
Price: The Arteon costs $46,710 as tested (no options on test vehicle), while the Stinger was $54,015 as tested.
Catching up: Last week, we went through all the bells and whistles inside our pair of hot-rod hatchbacks. This week, we go where the rubber meets the road.
Up to speed: The Stinger’s 3.3-liter twin turbo V-6 creates 365 horsepower. It offers a rollicking ride, with 0 to 60 taking a whopping 4.4 seconds, according to Road and Track.
For 2020, the new GT-Line model powered by the 2.0-liter turbo creates 255 horsepower.
The 2.0-turbo four in the Arteon creates 268 horsepower, more in line with the GT-Line Stinger. It gets to 60 in a respectable 6.3 seconds, according to Motor Trend.
Shifty: But, still, when it comes to driver enjoyment, advantage Arteon. The Volkswagen gets a shiftable 8-speed automatic. Move the lever to the right and the Arteon gets a real shift mode, operated by the lever or the paddle shifters.
The Arteon did have hesitation and lurches now and again, mostly in Drive mode.
Either version of the Stinger gets an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The shifting reverts quickly back to automatic, as there’s no shift lever control to keep it in shift mode. But the transmission works mostly just fine.
Wet weather: I had the opportunity to travel in the Stinger from Center City to West Chester on a day of heavy rains, when the roads were so slick that I noticed a Camaro holding up traffic. I’m sure the driver was exercising caution, concerned about sliding on the water. Kudos, Camaro driver.
But the Stinger was able to just push on through, zipping past most cars and SUVs even at higher speeds. That’s a nice feeling in a performance sedan.
The Arteon also had its rainy-day experiences as well. (We have just so many opportunities to drive in the rain, now don’t we? Sigh.) The Arteon held its own just fine through puddles and heavy rains, although it didn’t have the same level of surefootedness as the Stinger.
On the road: But surefootedness on dry pavement reveals a different story. The Arteon is a whole lot of fun anywhere, but it really shines on the curves. I watched the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat gripping the bar over the passenger door and assured her that this would not be too fast.
The Arteon proves a smooth and comfortable companion on the highway as well. Road seams are not an issue, and handling was top notch at high speeds in Drive, Sport, or Shift mode.
The Kia Stinger offers five settings for handling, and handling is complicated. The default is Comfort, which is a real dog, and the handling in Comfortland is dodgy.
Sport is fast and the handling taut, and turns the Stinger into an old-fashioned sports sedan. It’s not an easy machine to pilot on highways, but it sure is fun.
Smart mode offers a happy medium for performance and driveability.
Maintaining speed: The Stinger’s adaptive cruise control system functioned mostly well, but it did exhibit a few surge cycles, where it would accelerate ever so slightly. It may have been reading roadside barriers and other obstacles in curves, but it also seemed to happen on straightaways now and again. This occurred maybe a dozen times over a week.
Another trouble spot could be the brakes. The test model had under 5,000 miles, but it sure felt as if the rotors were already warped. Far too early for that, and too dangerous for a fast-moving unit like this.
The Arteon cruise seemed to work just fine. It also has six settings for automatic cruise control distance, a bevy of choices. And with 3,800 miles on the odometer, no hint of brake shudder.
Play some tunes: The Arteon’s 700-watt DynAudio system offers plenty of sound adjustment, including different settings like authentic, speech, and more. Sadly, none of them created the kind of sound experience I could get into. Call this a B.
The dials for volume and tuning make the main controls easy enough, but I sure hope no one tries to adjust the aforementioned sound features on the fly. Lots of nested screens to get through.
The Stinger infotainment system features an 8-inch touchscreen with knobs for volume and tuning, plus a nice row of silver buttons to get operators from media to radio and map. All of it seemed easy to adjust on the fly.
Sound from the system was about an A-, pretty nice but not quite perfect.
In the end: It’s really fun to get to 60 mph under 5 seconds, so the Stinger is a wild ride.
But the Arteon is much more companionable, for comfort and handling. Check the brake reports on the Kia; that could be an expensive problem to endure. But tunes, speed, and fun make the Stinger a solid choice.