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MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Kia Optima 1.6 CRDi 2

Click to view picture gallery“Rejuvenated with a new 1.6-litre
  turbodiesel engine, Kia
s Optima
  is a well-dressed, über-spacious
  and economical big saloon with
  an appealing not-so-big price
...”


FRONTED BY THE BRAND'S HALLMARK 'tiger nose' grille and sleek wraparound light units incorporating distinctive LED daytime running lights, the sporty-looking and now slightly larger Optima 4.9 metres from nose to tail projects a kerb appeal that's stronger and notably more distinctive than many of its rivals.

The flanks, defined by deeply sculpted doors and punctuated by machine-faced 17-inch alloy wheels, flow into broad, sharply-creased shoulders emphasised by 'kicked up' rear quarter-lights; the raked rear screen sweeps cleanly down to meet a rising, spoiler-shaped bootlid, itself underscored by LED tail light units that wrap around the rear corners. Chrome roofline detailing further emphasises the Optima's athletic and rather dishy lines.

Installed in the engine bay you'll now find a notably frugal, class-competitive and much more refined 1.6-litre turbodiesel that's replaced the earlier 1.7-litre unit. Backstopping the new four-pot's 138bhp is 236lb ft of torque that makes for a nicely spread out pool of power to dip into whenever you need some extra 'twist', meaning it pulls tellingly from low down to deliver the 0-60mph sprint in an unruffled 10.6 seconds; at higher motorway speeds — top speed is 122mph — it lopes effortlessly along without a care in the world.

Installed in the engine
bay you’ll now find Kia’s
notably frugal, class-
competitive and much
more refined 1.6-litre
turbodiesel.
It pulls tellingly from low
down, delivering the
0-60mph sprint in an
unruffled 10.6 seconds;
at higher motorway
speeds it lopes
effortlessly along without
a care in the world
returning 64mpg!”
Two-pedal drivers will be pleased to hear that they can 'gear-up' with an optional seven-speed dual-clutch autobox that even boosts economy — from the manual's official Combined Cycle 62.8mpg to 64.2mpg with CO2 emissions at the same 117g/km. A week's hard driving in the manual saw a real-world average of 56.2mpg with a best on longer runs of 64.2mpg. Plus a 70-litre fuel tank means you could go 750 miles between fill-ups.

Swing open the driver's door (like the other three, it opens wide for easy entry and exit) and it's obvious why many drivers still prefer big saloon cars — the abundant space. Both the driver and whoever's riding shotgun with them are guaranteed to be comfortable in the large, well-padded and well-contoured black fabric-upholstered seats.

Both chairs adjust for height and the driver also enjoys power-adjustable lumbar support. And with space all around — plenty above your head and sociable elbow room between the front seats along with decent legroom — they're perfect hot weather or cold and especially for long journeys.

Facing the driver is a nicely uncluttered soft-touch 'grained' dash with just the right amount of metallic-finish highlighting. Sited centrally is a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with built-in TomTom navigation offering speed camera, traffic, weather, and local point of interest information. Screen and 3D mapping graphics are crisp and a strip of 'hard' buttons beneath the main display provides direct jumps into all the menus.

A grippy, multifunction (voice, phone, favourite button, audio, multi-mode driver's display, cruise and speed limiter) leather-wrapped wheel-rim adds to the pleasure of a spot-on driving position made even better by a clear view over the bonnet. The instrument panel contains two easy-to-read, trad-look white-on-black dials for speed and revs, set either side of an easily configured multimode driver's information display that shows all the normal trip data including essentials such as a digital mph read-out. Aiding both usability and safety, the instrument cluster is set at exactly the same height as the main touchscreen. Also appreciated are the traditional button-operated controls for the automatic AirCon.

While the front
passenger seat is more
than comfy, don’t be
surprised when the rear
cabin proves to be
equally popular.
There’s acres of room —
adults travelling in the
Optima’s second row
could almost get lost
there — backrests are set
at relaxing angles and
you can really stretch out
in the nicely contoured
chairs...”
The quieter interior — extensive soundproofing and acoustic damping has been fitted to minimise NVH — is also a good place to listen to the 6-speaker audio system with its MP3-compatible DAB radio. Other entertainment sources include Bluetooth handsfree with music streaming; smartphone mirroring is via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both with voice control. Audiophiles might like to consider upgrading to the '3' spec trim to get the 590-watt 10-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system.

Those using the Optima for family duties will be the glad of the amount of in-cabin storage — there's more than enough for the average tribe including an accommodating glovebox, a drop-down case for your shades, dual-use cupholders, and a very large bin (with a handy upper tray) under the front central armrest.

Kia cars have a well-earned rep for coming well equipped, and even in entry-level guise the '2' trim is decently kitted out — in addition to that mentioned elsewhere you also get dual-zone automatic AirCon, a reversing camera system, front and rear parking sensors, UV-reducing solar and tinted glass, electronic park brake with auto hold, powerfolding heated door mirrors (on demand and automatically on locking and leaving), auto-dimming rearview mirror, all electric windows (fronts are one-shot up/down), auto lights, auto wipes, cruise control, speed limiter, drive-away automatic door locking, tyre pressure monitoring, Electronic Stability Control and Vehicle Stability Management, Hill-start Assist, a full suite of airbags, and a set of 17-inch alloys.

While the front passenger seat is more than comfy, don't be surprised when the rear cabin proves to be equally popular. Sitting about six inches higher in the back seats, passengers enjoy clear views out through the deep side windows that keep it all light and airy. Plus there's acres of room — adults travelling in the Optima's second row could almost get lost there — and even with a brace of six-footers up front there's no shortage of lounging space. Backrests set at relaxing angles ensure occupants can really stretch out in the nicely contoured seats and a low central floor tunnel makes three side-by-side even easier.

This refreshed Optima
bodyshell comes with
something that can’t be
seen but can definitely
be felt — a 50 percent
increase in torsional
rigidity. With benefits to
safety, refinement and
sharper handling
dynamics, the Optima is
poised through corners
and along the twisty bits
and feels reassuringly
planted while serving up
an engaging and sportily
well-mannered drive...”
Making sure you'll want to stay put is a wide central armrest with built-in cupholders than folds away if three need to share, large padded outer armrests, dedicated air vents, practical door bins, well-sited reading lights, damped grabs, a 12v power socket and a USB charging port, big pouches on the front seatbacks and, for youngsters, Isofix child seat fixings.

This refreshed Optima bodyshell comes with something that can't be seen but can definitely be felt — a 50 percent increase in torsional rigidity. With benefits to safety, refinement and sharper handling dynamics, the Optima is poised through corners and along the twisty bits, all of which can be taken confidently helped by the responsively direct steering. Body roll is well managed and combined with strong grip keeps the Optima reassuringly planted while serving up an engaging and sportily well-mannered drive.

The ride is fairly unruffled too and on the go the Optima is generally unfazed by bumps and third-rate road surfacing. Courtesy of the stiffer bodyshell and suspension tweaks, passengers will remain at ease even when their driver is pressing on. Rolling on comfort-orientated 215/55 x 17 rubber helps, and in the cruise the Optima is a restful and unruffled place to hang out.

Big cars don't always come with big boots, but the Optima does — 510 litres-worth (this being just 42 litres short of the boot found in the Optima Sportswagon estate). Flipping up out of the way over the rear screen, the large bootlid facilitates easy loading into the wide boot; the shallow drop over the sill to the floor isn't a problem when you're throwing in the cases. Pull the release levers in the boot and the 60:40-split rear seatbacks fold forwards to sit level on their bases for extra carrying space as well as providing a large load-through opening from the boot for longer loads. If that's not sufficient then the 1.6 turbodiesel will happily haul a braked 1,800kg.

Plenty of drivers still appreciate the benefits of a big saloon car and with prices kicking off at a very affordable £22K this latest Optima is a polished all-rounder that offers an amiable, spacious and refined cabin allied to impressive economy and a satisfying ownership and driving experience with the added bonus of the longest warranty around (seven years/100,000 miles). ~ MotorBar
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Kia Optima 1.6 CRDi '2' | £22,260
Maximum speed: 122mph | 0-60mph: 10.6 seconds | Test Average: 56.2mpg
Power: 138bhp | Torque: 236lb ft | CO2: 117g/km

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