Reviews | 07 June 2018

Volkswagen Arteon versus the Opel Insignia and Kia Stinger

  • Fashionable Fastbacks
    1 / 24 Fashionable Fastbacks

    What exactly is a fastback? It is a saloon with a tailgate (like a large hatchback) instead of a notchback boot lid, and the rake of the rear windscreen is sharper (hence “faster”) than that of the front windscreen. The fastback format looks good and provides a practical boot.

    These three fastbacks, however, offer more than just practicality. With their strikingly stylish designs and potent engines, they are also capable grand tourers.

    The Volkswagen Arteon is aimed at fashion-conscious drivers. With its dramatic, almost artistic styling and muscular 280hp powertrain, few would suspect that the Arteon’s platform is actually a stretched version of the one that underpins its conservative Passat sibling.

    The Arteon’s German rival in this story is the Opel Insignia Grand Sport, which is bigger and smarter than its “slowback” saloon predecessor. The new Insignia is also roomier and more refined than the old one, and equipped with a long list of standard features.

    Taking on the Teutons in this shootout is the Kia Stinger from Korea. Apart from its head-turning looks, this 2-litre Korean contender also promises exciting rear-drive performance and a well-built cabin packed with numerous amenities.

    Which of these fashionable fastbacks has the best blend of style and speed? Let’s go fastback riding and find out!

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  • Volkswagen Arteon – Engine
    2 / 24 Volkswagen Arteon – Engine

    Volkswagen’s turbocharged 2-litre 4-cylinder with 280hp and 350Nm is the best powerplant of the group as it is the most powerful and yet the most efficient, and it does the quickest century sprint, too.

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  • Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Engine
    3 / 24 Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Engine

    Opel’s turbocharged 2-litre 4-cylinder with 260hp and 400Nm has the most torque and the punchiest midrange, but its overall power delivery could be more urgent.

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  • Kia Stinger GT-Line – Engine
    4 / 24 Kia Stinger GT-Line – Engine

    Kia’s turbocharged 2-litre 4-cylinder with 247hp and 353Nm has the fewest ponies but the greatest engagement, as its performance delivery is the keenest and most linear.

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  • Volkswagen Arteon – Gearbox
    5 / 24 Volkswagen Arteon – Gearbox

    Arteon’s 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox is a boon to fast drivers as it gives them the fastest gearchanges.

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  • Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Gearbox
    6 / 24 Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Gearbox

    Insignia’s 8-speed automatic is the smoothest transmission here, but its gearchanges, even in manual override, are surprisingly the most languid.

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  • Kia Stinger GT-Line – Gearbox
    7 / 24 Kia Stinger GT-Line – Gearbox

    Stinger’s 8-speed autobox is almost as quick as the Arteon’s dual-clutch unit. Its only let-down is the lack of a dedicated manual mode for DIY shifting.

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  • Volkswagen Arteon – Ride & Handling
    8 / 24 Volkswagen Arteon – Ride & Handling

    Arteon’s handling is neat, but its real strength is that it strikes the most optimal balance between ride comfort and handling capability. We would still prefer a slightly softer setup, though, given the VW’s grand-tourer character.

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  • Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Ride & Handling
    9 / 24 Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Ride & Handling

    Insignia’s ride quality, which is already the most pliant among the three fastbacks, is even more impressive in light of the car’s 20-inch alloy wheels. If you set the dampers to Tour mode, the suspension will literally lull occupants to sleep.

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  • Kia Stinger GT-Line – Ride & Handling
    10 / 24 Kia Stinger GT-Line – Ride & Handling

    Less comfortable than the others for long-distance driving, but enthusiasts will be grinning from ear to ear while carving their way through B-road bends, because the Stinger’s handling is the most fluid and graceful of the trio.

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  • Volkswagen Arteon – Cockpit
    11 / 24 Volkswagen Arteon – Cockpit

    Sleekest cockpit of the three is also the most high-tech, thanks to its massive infotainment touchscreen (bigger than the two rival systems) and fully digital instrument cluster (Insignia and Stinger have mostly analogue meters).

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  • Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Cockpit
    12 / 24 Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Cockpit

    Great for road trips, as Insignia’s front seats are the most supportive and the alloy pedals offer the most grip. Ample, logical storage points make this the most practical cabin here.

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  • Kia Stinger GT-Line – Cockpit
    13 / 24 Kia Stinger GT-Line – Cockpit

    The most driver-oriented seat, with the best driving position. It is also the only one here with an electrically adjustable helm and convenient selector knob for the Drive Mode. Stinger’s head-up display has the clearest graphics, too.

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  • Volkswagen Arteon – Backseat
    14 / 24 Volkswagen Arteon – Backseat

    Most spacious and comfortable backseat makes this space feel like an executive lounge, complete with frameless windows. Arteon’s additional climate zone helps ensure that “guests” in here are kept the coolest.

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  • Opel Insignia Grand Tourer – Backseat
    15 / 24 Opel Insignia Grand Tourer – Backseat

    Opel’s bench is the most supportive, but the relatively shorter backrests mean that anyone taller than 1.75m won’t be as comfy. Gadget lovers will appreciate the big doorbins and the pair of USB ports for charging devices.

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  • Kia Stinger GT-Line – Backseat
    16 / 24 Kia Stinger GT-Line – Backseat

    Kia has the longest wheelbase, but less efficient packaging means there’s less legroom than in the other two cabins, while the relatively tall transmission tunnel makes this space more ideal for two adults instead of three.

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  • Volkswagen Arteon – Meters
    17 / 24 Volkswagen Arteon – Meters

    Arteon’s Active Info Display is the prettiest and most useful of the bunch, as the huge display makes it easier to see the map when using the sat-nav function. The graphics are the sharpest, too.

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  • Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Meters
    18 / 24 Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Meters

    Insignia’s part-digital, part-analogue gauges are the only ones with a volt meter to help you keep an eye on your battery’s health. Navigating/selecting the menu options is the most intuitive, thanks to the five-way D-pad on the steering wheel.

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  • Kia Stinger GT-Line – Meters
    19 / 24 Kia Stinger GT-Line – Meters

    Conventional dials of the Stinger look the least exciting in this company. But, because they present the least amount of information, they’re actually the easiest to read/use, allowing the driver to focus better on the road ahead.

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  • Volkswagen Arteon – Boot
    20 / 24 Volkswagen Arteon – Boot

    Arteon’s 563-litre boot is the best for hauling bulky and heavy luggage, as its loading point is the lowest and the tailgate opens the widest. The trunk also comes with an elastic net for securing loose items.

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  • Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Boot
    21 / 24 Opel Insignia Grand Sport – Boot

    Insignia’s 560-litre cargo hold is the most flexible, thanks to its 40:20:40 split-folding seats. It’s also the only trunk with backrest release levers, but the rather tall loading point and lack of a powered tailgate will inconvenience users below 1.7m in height.

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  • Kia Stinger GT-Line – Boot
    22 / 24 Kia Stinger GT-Line – Boot

    Stinger’s 406-litre trunk has the smallest volume and narrowest aperture, making it the least useful for hauling stuff. But it has the best-organised underfloor storage and two bright LED boot lights, which make it easier to load/unload things in dark conditions.

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  • Volkswagen Arteon, Open Insignia Grand Sport and Kia Stinger GT-Line – Keys
    23 / 24 Volkswagen Arteon, Open Insignia Grand Sport and Kia Stinger GT-Line – Keys

    (Left to right) Arteon device is the weightiest and feels the most substantial, Insignia’s fob is the lightest but has the fewest functions, while the Stinger key, trimmed in faux leather, looks like it belongs in an unknown Korean supercar.

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  • Last Word
    24 / 24 Last Word

    This Group Test was one of the most pleasurable yet painful ones we’ve ever done. All three cars were such a hoot to drive that we didn’t want to return them.

    If cruising comfort and driving confidence are your priorities, then we’d happily recommend the Opel Insignia Grand Sport, which has the softest seats and most pliant ride. For those who love taking road trips, the Insignia should be your fastback ride of choice.

    The Insignia’s biggest drawbacks are its boot (loading/unloading could be easier) and performance (relatively relaxed). If you’re an eager driver, the Opel probably won’t be eager enough on the go.

    When it comes to sheer speediness, neither the Insignia nor the Stinger can touch the Arteon. The Volkswagen’s muscular engine and lightning-quick gearbox are able to leave the traffic behind, including a few hot-hatch boyracers taken by surprise.

    We also love the Arteon’s elegant exterior design, advanced cockpit and Lufthansa lounge-like accommodation, all of which add to the VW’s luxe appeal. However, this level of German luxe comes with a hefty price tag of $220k, so buyers will need deep pockets – $35k and $41k deeper than what is needed for the Insignia and Stinger respectively.

    As motoring enthusiasts, we were happily stung by the Kia Stinger. We love its sporty profile (whose height is the lowest of the three fastbacks), driver-first cockpit and addictive performance.

    The Stinger has less horsepower than the others, but it more than compensates with a keen engine paired to a chassis engineered to deliver great handling. The Stinger’s only weak points are its comparatively tighter backseat and smaller boot.

    If you want enjoyable driving in a fashionable fastback, you won’t be able to resist Kia’s new “Seoul scorpion” and its South Korean venom.

    Kia Stinger review

    Volkswagen Arteon review

    Opel Insignia Grand Sport review

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