BMW M440i xDrive Gran Coupé and Kia Stinger GT in the test

With the Kia Stinger GT and the new BMW M440i Gran Coupé, the boot lid and most of the six-cylinder power flow into the rear, which helps with brisk driving and loading luggage. What are the hatchback limos with more than 360 hp really capable of?

Notchback sedans, coupés, station wagons and convertibles have been in the BMW mid-range brochures since the 1980s. With the last generation, the variants were separated by name into 3 Series and 4 Series and the range was expanded to include a hatchback sedan: It's called the Gran Coupé (GC), has four doors and a large trunk lid, which swings open wide, including the rear window, to easily load luggage to be able to The new version drives through the picture as a 374 hp M440i xDrive.

The Kia Stinger is only available in this body shape and since the facelift only as a GT with all-wheel drive and 366 hp V6, which the majority of customers chose before that. Although the brochure refrains from using the term "coupé", it also has a sporty roof line, with which the headroom in the front and especially in the rear is a bit narrower than the very good one in the four.

As a Gran Coupé, it now has closed folding door handles again, which were last available from 1990 to 2000 on the three of the E36 series. After an accident, first responders can use it to exert less force on a door that may be jammed, and the handles are also less comfortable in everyday use. This is especially true because of the frameless doors, which offer little space to open and close if you don't want to touch the windows. Incidentally, this is not the exception, see 2-seater coupé and iX, which has no mechanical door handles at all. The advantages of the folding design? Know the designers and are definitely in a late decimal place of the air resistance value.

ESP as a buddy and helper

There is a bit more in the notes about functionality, for example that the BMW has a three-part rear seat and the Kia has a two-part rear seat without load-through. But now quickly into the first row behind the steering wheel - and ignition! The GC initially turns precisely, quickly and calmly. To make it drive as rear-heavy as you would imagine in a BMW (with an M badge), all you have to do is press the button with the skidding car. Even in Sport ESP mode, turning impulses can be set via the accelerator pedal with a very small steering angle: This works very easily with the electronically controlled multi-plate locking differential in the country road speed range, without having to provoke the car via the steering.

Maybe the programmers of the control algorithms are holding the reins a bit too laxly? Good question, so let's try it out on the Bosch test center handling course. When the rear turns in, the anti-skid program covers excessive gas blasts gently, but effectively in terms of safety.If it's a little to the outside, neither abrupt gas pedal lift plus braking nor jerky steering movements lead to a spin.

So the sophisticated ESP regulation does not neglect its duty of supervision. However, if you move within the generously defined scope, it is not only sufficient for the country road, but also tears here. The rear part also pushes outwards in the fast right-hand bend, and even longer slides with a manageable angle are possible. However, the all-wheel drive software pushes the newton meters around in such a way that the steering work is noticeably smaller than in a 430i with rear-wheel drive, for example.

ESP as a strict monitor

The Stinger GT always has all-wheel drive, which activates the corresponding ESP logic in Sport Plus mode. Unlike in the BMW, however, it immediately slams on the brakes impetuously as soon as the rear yaws beyond a slight rotation. In the Kia, you either drive just under the limit – which is easy to do – or you tear off the safety net completely.

Then the all-wheel drive pushes more torque to the rear axle, which is managed there purely mechanically by the limited-slip differential. As a result, it takes a lot more heave in the steering, because the rear can hardly be pushed out of the lane with just the gas pedal. If you want to experience that, you have to meet significantly greater driving requirements, but the GT never gets poisonous: if you gently ease off the gas, you can get out of oversteer without drama.

If you prefer to drive a clean line anyway, the Stinger comes close to the driving fun that the BMW offers with this driving style. The advantage of the Gran Coupé: the double-jointed front axle is noticeably more precise on corner entry than the MacPherson construction in the Kia.

As can easily be seen in the long left-hand bend on the handling course, it also provides clearer feedback to the steering wheel at the limit. While the holding forces on the bulging M handlebars decrease slightly when understeering, you have to pay close attention to this in the Kia. Apart from that, it offers an equally good steering feel, which remains more relaxed with a slightly less direct set-up.

Unequal drives

The in-line six-cylinder in the four turns powerfully and immediately builds up pressure even at the bottom via its twin-scroll mono-turbocharger. This is matched by the excellent ZF8 transmission, which selects the right shift points and the right mix of comfort and shifting speed in every mode. In addition, the lever on the center console can be used to shift gears in the M lane (down a gear: push the lever forward). Or just via the steering wheel paddles, of which the left can engage the lowest possible gear if you hold it down.

The biturbo V6 in the Kia consumes a good liter more at 11.1 l/100 km, but with 510 instead of 500 Nm it provides a little more torque.Although it does not meet the engine characteristics described for the M440i at the same level, it is still at a really high level. In terms of sound, both are rather reserved, even the GT leaves it with a sporty note despite the optional flap exhaust (2,755 euros). If you want, you can have the sound electronically enriched here and there.

The biggest drive differences are in the transmission, which are not particularly noticeable in the city: The slightly slower gear changes are irrelevant here, the automatic also shifts smoothly and uses the torque of the 3.3-liter V6. The switching strategy to Sport Plus, on the other hand, is not aggressive enough on the brakes, so the driver has to help. A specific self-shift mode is missing, but enough time passes before the Kia switches back to "D" after a paddle shifter click. It is often annoying that the Eco shift suggestions cover the gear display in every mode. In addition, you can only turn against the limiter in the Kia when the ESP is inactive.

On the freeway, the GT sometimes allows itself to be jerked into gears, always accompanied by a flashing traction control symbol. In some cases, the light on the rev limiter even stays on permanently: The automatic then only shifts up as soon as the accelerator pedal is lifted. We know neither the jerks nor the electronic mess from other Stingers, so that will probably be a problem in the test car, which disappears in Sport ESP mode with relaxed traction control. Here, the transmission is still rated correspondingly worse.

The Kia can't keep up

The Stinger loses the brake rating even more clearly. Not that it's bad: 35.4 meters from 100 to 0 km/h is a good value. Unfortunately for the M440i, 32.7 meters are enough for this, and it also keeps the sports car level in the 130 km/h disciplines. For 350 euros, the test car has the M-technology package, including larger front brake discs plus optimized engine and charge air cooling.

Another category that the foursome always dominates is the service. The temperature can be adjusted more easily with rotary controls instead of buttons in the GT. And it has bracket door handles and a button to switch off the automatic start-stop system (BMW: only via engine or transmission sport mode). The voice input of navigation destinations and radio stations also works properly, and useful switches such as map, media and the favorite asterisk complement the Kia touch system. Nevertheless, the BMW, which is easier to operate especially while driving, clearly beats it: with a rotary pushbutton plus direct selection buttons and touchscreen, eight almost freely assignable favorites buttons and voice control that, in addition to the standard functions, also calls up special menus, reads out the manual or the oil temperature checking.

Apart from that, there is only a slightly larger distance between the points in the headlights, because while the BMW cleverly throws the best possible light onto the road with glare-free laser high beams, the Stinger can only serve with a simple automatic high beam system. Otherwise it keeps up well everywhere, for example it almost achieves the good suspension comfort of the Gran Coupé, which has an idea of ​​a softer and more controlled chassis. The Kia is also made chic inside, only the BMW surpasses it with even higher-quality buttons, decorative strips and the more meticulous processing. In addition, there is the leather dashboard for 1,550 euros in the test car, which makes it look like a luxury car.

BMW better and much more expensive

The only extras available for the Kia are different paint and leather colors, a glass roof, the sports exhaust and for 135 euros "additional preservation for the engine compartment and vehicle underbody". Without all that, it costs almost fully equipped 58,900 euros and thus 9,200 less than the four. After an equipment adjustment, the difference increases to around 20,000 euros.

Sure, the BMW will remain more stable in value, it also wins all property chapters and delivers a clear test result on the bottom line. Above all, it is terrific how playfully its oversteering tendency can be experienced with the controlled locking diff - but if you don't need that, you should definitely take a look at the brochure for the inexpensive Stinger GT.


1. BMW 669 points

Comfort, operation and quality justify the premium claim and price, the outstanding engine and the all-wheel drive design the slogan "joy driving".

2.Kia 610 points

In the Stinger GT, Kia bundles the strong V6, a lot of driving fun and comfort as well as a very neatly made interior into a significantly cheaper and inexpensive package.


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