2 Tech 1.7 CRDi ISG
the American President has
sleepless nights worrying about
what the North Koreans are up to,
the big worry for Europes major
carmakers is the latest new models
coming out of South Korea...
PARTICULAR, THE NEW OPTIMA SALOON. Just weeks after going on sale it became
Kia's top-selling car and the Americans can't get enough of them,
which is why we Brits have had to wait quite a while. But it's here now,
and you can buy one from £19,595.
The Optima is Kia's generously-proportioned and elegant new four-door saloon;
elegant enough to be mistaken really for a Jaguar. But then it
has been styled by Kia's design chief Peter (original Audi TT) Schreyer and
his team who have made the most out of its 4,845mm length with long deep flanks,
a wedgy profile and an assertive 'tiger nose' grille emphasised by dual projector
Who will buy it? Customers who may have been looking at a Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall
Insignia or perhaps even a Passat; family drivers who enjoy driving and want
something that's distinctive as well as practical; and, above all, customers
who appreciate value for money and something that will return lots of miles
of economy, the Optima will stretch a gallon of diesel quite a long way
officially 49.6mpg urban, 57.6 on the combined cycle and 64.2mpg extra-urban.
Optima will stretch
a gallon of diesel
quite a long way
officially 49.6mpg urban,
57.6 on the combined
cycle and 64.2mpg
A week behind the
wheel saw a real-life
A week behind the wheel saw a real-life 48.7mpg. And this from a big car (it's
20mm longer than a Mondeo) powered by 1.7-litre turbodiesel (the only engine
available on UK-spec cars) that kicks out a substantial 239lb ft of torque at
2,000-2,500rpm alongside 134bhp.
It's an agreeably game performer, too. Happy to rev and, when maximum torque
kicks in around 2,000rpm, pleasingly responsive, getting to 60mph in 10.2 seconds.
It feels more like a 2.0-litre rather than a 1.7 and there's always enough on
tap for sensible overtaking. At motorway speeds just a squeeze on the accelerator
will see you add another 15mph+ without needing to drop out of 5th or 6th
even up long hills. Not that you'll have need of it in the UK, but the top speed
is 125mph. A smooth-acting gearlever takes the strain out of the six-speed manual
Pull open a door and you'll find that the Optima's big outside is reflected
honestly inside there's lots of space for front and rear passengers with
room for five adults. Seats, upholstered in black leather with cloth centre
panels, are cool in summer and warm in winter and supportive all year round
oh-very-comfortable seats, in fact, that quickly prove their worth on
Front and rear space is more than adequate for six-footers; those travelling
in the back definitely have enough legroom to stretch out comfortably in all
directions, from head to toe. The rear seatback angle is just right for lounging,
helped by a wide, padded centre armrest. Give up the armrest and three can easily
sit abreast made better for the middle one's feet by the virtually flat
floor. Wherever you sit, the cabin feels very airy to travel in. And quiet,
Pop the bootlid and it's quite a way to the 60:40 split-fold rear seatbacks.
Not that you need to reach in: pull the release knobs in the top of the boot
and the rear backrests drop forward almost, but not completely, flat.
But enough to usefully extend the load carrying capacity of the 505-litre boot.
Look under the boot floor and you won't find a puncture repair kit or even a
space-saver but an honest-to-goodness matching full-size alloy spare wheel!
with loads of room the cabin also contains loads of kit: black leather and cloth
upholstery, a 7-inch touchscreen display (serving the SatNav and various media
functions and the integrated reversing camera), heated front seats, leather-wrapped
multifunction steering wheel, electric windows (all four are one-shot auto up/down)
and a first-rate 12-speaker Infinity sound system with a 550-Watt external amp
and an 8-inch subwoofer.
also get an 8-way power adjustable driver's memory seat, dual-zone AirCon with
air filter and auto defog, cruise control with speed limiter, on-demand powerfold
heated door mirrors, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, parking
sensors, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, tinted UV reducing solar glass, speed-sensing
automatic door locking, Aux+USB connectivity, and auto wipers and lights
are all standard on the mid-rage '2 Tech' trim.
The rear seatback angle
is just right for lounging,
helped by a wide,
padded centre armrest.
Give up the armrest
and three can easily sit
But wherever you sit,
the cabin feels very airy
to travel in...
And there's more: external equipment includes ten-spoke alloy wheels, cornering
lights, and LED daytime running and tail lights. Out of sight there's electronic
stability control with a stability management system, Intelligent Stop & Go
to save fuel and minimise C02, Emergency Stop Signalling system, Hill-start
Assist and, of course, front, side and curtain airbags.
Apart from physical plusses such as power lumbar support, plenty of height and
reach adjustment on the wheel and a height-adjustable front seatbelt, the driver
also benefits from a logically laid-out centre stack and dash. The dials are
beautifully clear white-on-black items, and with their fine chrome bezels and
slim red needles they look especially smart. Thoughtful storage includes a centre
console tray for a mobile close to Aux and USB points as well as not one, but
two, 12v sockets, a cooled glovebox, and a sunglasses pocket.
The grippy multifunction (audio, cruise, driver information, voice and phone)
four-spoke wheel has the added advantage of good-looking satin-finish spokes
that don't dazzle on sunny days. And the heated seats go all the way: from the
top of your back right to the end of the seat under your knees. And all key
information and switchgear is within the driver's sight-line the fascia
and centre console are angled, aircraft-style, towards the driver.
Another simple but amazingly handy feature is the illuminated ignition keyhole.
The A/C is on the ball and blows out lots of quick-chilled air without blowing
a gale. And, very unexpected at this price, the powered driver's seat glides
back several inches for an easy exit when you withdraw the ignition key; when
the key is inserted the seat glides forward again to it's last used position.
is impressive fuel economy, generous kit and handsome looks enough to not just
go head-to-head against the leading and long-established mainstream saloons
from Ford, Vauxhall, VW, Mazda and Peugeot, but to persuade buyers to vote with
you factor in the Optima's competent road dynamics then, Yes, there will be
many who will put their money firmly on the Optima, whose ride and handling
are more than able to stand favourable comparison.
its a nice
car to drive actually,
polished pretty well
sums it up whether
youre picking up
the kids or its just you
and the Optima enjoying
an interesting B-road
Our 'Tech' spec test Optima was running on 17-inch alloys shod with 215/55 profile
tyres, and it's a well-considered partnership for both comfort and handling.
The Optima provides good shock absorption and copes easily with the mixed patchwork
of British blacktop, keeping the worst of the disturbances out of the cabin
something that also contributes to its easygoing and pleasantly hushed
Handling-wise it feels surprisingly athletic, with decent grip and minimal body
roll, and the handling/ride balance struck by Kia will suit drivers who enjoy
their everyday driving but still want some reward when driving enthusiastically.
Also unexpected, because it's an electrically-assisted power steering set-up,
but nonetheless welcome is the Optima's good response to the steering wheel.
Judged alongside its peers, it feels easily as nimble as a Mondeo and it tracks
straight and true on motorways.
Dynamically it's a nice car to drive actually, 'polished' pretty well
sums it up whether you're picking up the kids or it's just you and the
Optima enjoying an interesting B-road together. The powerful brakes (discs all
round) can be relied upon to shed speed without any drama as and when. Overall
the Optima feels every bit as confident as its well-established European-born
Offering sharp-suited looks, spacious family accommodation and a more than agreeable
driving experience, the Optima is hard to ignore. Even more so when you look
at the comprehensive standard equipment, pound-stretching economy and Kia's
seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. To paraphrase Laurel and Hardy: 'Well, Kia,
here's another nice car you've gotten me into!' MotorBar
1.7 CRDi ISG | £21,695
Maximum speed: 125mph | 0-60mph: 10.2 seconds | Overall test MPG: 48.7mpg
Power: 134bhp | Torque: 239lb ft | CO2 128g/km