Kia’s constantly evolving and affordable range of vehicles goes from strength to strength and the trend looks set to continue with this, the fourth-generation Optima.
On the outside, the styling changes over the previous version are hard to spot but that needn’t be a bad thing and it’s the changes under its skin that really make the difference.
WHAT STANDS OUT
With a light redesign, the Optima still looks sharp and stands out in a segment where many other options look alike.
In the previous-generation, Kia only offered the Optima with its established 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder, but there is now a new GT which has a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-litre under its bonnet and that’s upped the performance stakes without a significant impact to fuel efficiency.
There’s also a big step up in refinement levels and classier cabin as well as a more generous standard equipment list.
There are big improvements to be found in the Optima’s cabin including a good mix of technology up front, sharp design and the general layout is excellent. For both versions, the touchscreen information and entertainment system is easy to use with many of the functions accessible from the steering wheel.
There’s plenty of space to be found throughout the cabin, including accommodating door pockets and a deep central console bin.
And if you’re jumping into the GT you’ll find leather upholstery, while there’s also heating and cooling for the front seats and steering wheel heating too. Life in the second row is also comfortable thanks to the generous cabin with space for kids and adults.
At the back, there is a generous 510-litre luggage area, and that can be expanded with 60/40 folding rear seats.
Both versions send power to the road via the front wheels and a six-speed automatic transmission and if you’re not looking to break lap records then the 138kW Si will probably fit the bill.
But it’s the GT’s 2.0-litre turbo with 180kW that will really appeal to drivers who want a bit of fun behind the wheel. It also has sharper styling and larger 18-inch wheels to match the extra power, but the suspension tune remains the same as the Si.
The official fuel consumption figure for the Si is 8.3 litres per 100km but that compares to 8.5L/100km for the turbo, which is a negligible difference for the extra mumbo.
Adaptive cruise control, reversing camera, automatic wipers and headlights that turn on and off, and dip the lights for oncoming traffic are standard.
Automatic emergency city and freeway braking along with lane departure warning and six airbags including curtain type are standard for both variants.
Opt for the GT and you’ll get added safety features in the form of blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
For our money the sweet spot of the pair is the GT – that extra performance and equipment takes the Optima into new territory and with fuel economy only slightly impacted, the price premium over its Si sibling is well worth it.
The Kia Optima range offers an affordable way into the mid-sized sedan market without having to compromise on looks, equipment or performance.
A compelling package of quality, styling and kit has resulted in the first Optima that can genuinely hold its own against some European and Japanese rivals.