With the rear-wheel drive large sports sedan segment set to go through a major change soon, we’ll need to look for alternatives as highlighted in our 2018 Toyota Camry vs 2018 Holden Commodore pre-review comparison. This time we thought we’d go over a similar examination only with the performance options. Welcome to our 2018 Kia Stinger GT vs 2018 Holden Commodore VXR pre-review comparison.
If someone had said 10 years ago that the default, affordable rear-drive performance sedan would come from South Korea and not Australia, you’d be laughed out of the pub. But that’s what has happened. The VF II Commodore, including 6.2-litre 304kW V8 SS, is destined for the history books. In its place will be a medium notchback imported from Germany, with a 3.6-litre V6 as the sportiest offering, adopting a ‘VXR’ badge.
Although the Kia looks to have the edge on paper, the Commodore will still have a strong technology story and Holden’s engineers have gone to painstaking lengths to ensure it is a sporty, compelling vehicle to drive. Its all-wheel drive system has mild oversteer capability, and the VXR certainly looks the part. Let’s dig deeper to see if these two are proper rivals.
(For illustration purposes a majority of the Holden Commodore VXR images are based on the Opel Insignia GSi (visually almost identical) due to limited images of the Holden-badged version at time of writing.)
2018 Kia Stinger GT vs 2018 Holden Commodore VXR: Design
The Stinger has definite Maserati notes in its proportions, detailing of its grille and rear lights and hunkered-down shape. Like the incoming ZB Commodore, the Stinger is a five-door hatchback. Both are German designs, with Kia’s Frankfurt studio taking most of the credit for the Stinger, headed by design chief Peter Schreyer.
The Commodore doesn’t have the masculine appearance of its predecessor with blistered wheel arches and large grille, but has clean lines, futuristic ‘Matrix’ LED headlights and premium detailing. The VXR’s 20-inch wheels with Brembo calipers peering through, ducktail spoiler and silver highlighted front bar definitely add some much-needed aggression. In the visuals department, we’ll call this one a tie.
2018 Kia Stinger GT vs 2018 Holden Commodore VXR: Interior
Holden’s newcomer forfeits some space and dimensions to both its predecessor and the Stinger. At 4899mm long, 1863mm wide and with a 2829mm wheelbase, it is still a large and decently proportioned vehicle. It’s worth noting the Stinger is 4830mm long, 1870mm wide and on a 2905mm wheelbase, meaning it is a wider car on a longer wheelbase. We’d need some back seat time to test if the sloping rooflines of both cars impinge on headroom.
Kia’s interior design has definite elements of Mercedes in the three circular central vents. The touch-screen is also reminiscent of German luxury cars, as are the the silver audio controls and climate control module. This car is actually positioned as a 4 Series Gran Coupe alternative in Europe.
The Commodore’s interior design does have some commonality with the smaller Astra, but that is not a negative since the Astra is a decidedly premium small car. The high definition touch-screen is well-integrated, the heated and cooled front seats are great for our local climate and the high-definition head-up display is a welcome addition too. We’d say in top specs, the Commodore could nudge ahead for presentation, if not for accommodation.
2018 Kia Stinger GT vs 2018 Holden Commodore VXR: Performance
Both vehicles have 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder entry level variants. The difference here is Holden’s is front-wheel drive while Kia’s is rear. Focusing on the V6 specs, the Kia has a definite performance advantage with 272kW and 510Nm. This means 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds.
Holden’s naturally aspirated 3.6-litre ‘LGX’ V6, with its redline of over 7000rpm, will surely be an entertaining unit, but with 235kW and 381Nm, concedes much ground to the Kia here. The target 0-100km/h time is under 6.0 seconds.
Both have paddle shifted automatic gearboxes, but the Holden’s nine-speed unit one-ups the South Korean’s eight-speed unit, on paper at least. The 2.0-litre turbocharged versions are probably more directly comparable in terms of performance.
From early reports, Kia has hit the nail on the head with the Stinger’s driving dynamics. A well-balanced chassis with good ride and tail-happy handling with stability control disabled gives the kind of behaviour that Falcon XR6 Turbo and Commodore SS enthusiasts will lament.
Holden has a different approach, with a grippy all-wheel drive chassis. We suspect it will have higher levels of cornering grip and, perhaps sharper turn-in, but this remains to be seen. Switchable drive modes that change throttle response, transmission shift mapping and rear differential behaviour to allow some tail-out fun should create some versatility among drivers. The Commodore also has magnetic ride control.
It would be interesting to compare the two on a race track and we suspect they would both be very entertaining, although it’s hard to ignore the Kia’s rear-wheel drive arrangement.
2018 Kia Stinger GT vs 2018 Holden Commodore VXR: Efficiency
The Kia’s official rating of 10.2L/100km for the V6 isn’t exactly what you’d call miserly, but for the performance it offers, it is better than what V8s and turbo sixes of yesteryear could muster. The Commodore is expected to be in the mid 9s for the V6.
The Stinger 200S and 200Si’s 8.8L/100km figure might be more your speed if this is a priority. Holden’s 2.0-litre turbo Commodore is expected to offer economy in the high 7s, by comparison. Unlike the Stinger, Holden will also offer a diesel variant of the Commodore – the Stinger can be had with an oil burner in Europe.
Interestingly, the Kia Stinger comes with Kia’s industry-leading seven-year warranty while the Commodore is likely to fall back to its regular three-year setup. Earlier this week Holden announced a seven-year warranty deal for all its cars sold up until December 31. With the new Commodore not arriving until February, it will probably miss out on the deal.
2018 Kia Stinger GT vs 2018 Holden Commodore VXR: Conclusion
There is a definite paradigm shift in the Australian performance car landscape, and we applaud Kia for having the cajones to fill the gap left by the Falcon and Commodore. While the new Commodore might not please traditional buyers, it looks like it has plenty of entertainment and sophistication to make plenty of friends.
While fans of manual transmission or V8 engines are now restricted to Mustang for new car choice, it’s the Stinger’s rear-drive chassis that will probably provide the type of behaviour and thrills traditional fans are most used to.