The Kia Optima is the Korean brand’s current mid-sized passenger car offering, vying for attention in a crowded segment. The Optima GT is generously equipped to fight more expensive rivals, and makes a good value proposition priced from $44,490, especially with a seven-year factory warranty. However, there are some quirks which potential buyers should be aware of before they join the growing fraternity of Kia owners.
- The huge panoramic sunroof comes standard in the GT and helps make the Optima cabin a nice place to be even on the longest drives. All occupants enjoy plush leather seating, with plenty of smart hidey-holes and storage options spread throughout the cabin.
- The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo in the GT is a handy unit, producing 180kW and 350Nm. While it won’t be crowned champion at the traffic light grand prix, the engine provides plenty of oomph when prompted, which is delivered smoothly by the six-speed torque converter automatic gearbox.
- Space is plentiful with the Optima. The boot offers a generous 510 litres of space, while rear seat passengers will have little issue with legroom.
- The largest gripe with the Optima is the speaker at the front of the cabin which feeds the synthetic engine note of a burbling V8 into the cabin. While it’s a nice party trick, it becomes tiresome quickly, and cannot be switched off – the volume is slightly minimised depending on the driving mode. Fake sounds are disingenuous and ruin, in this case, what could be a hushed and agreeable cabin ambience.
- One of the GT’s shortcomings is steering finesse. While the car rides well and soaks up large bumps, there is a disconnection between steering inputs and what is fed back through the wheel to the driver. The GT is up for sporty driving, and the Michelin Pilot Sport rubber fitted as standard offers impressive levels of grip, but a lack of feel lets down the car’s sorted chassis.
- Kia’s infotainment system can take some getting used to, and has an unspoken set of ‘rules’ which you need to learn. Once adapted to the system it is an impressive unit, but quirks such as an inability to connect a phone via Bluetooth unless the car is in park can be irritating. The driver safety logic is clear, but it forgets about the fact passengers can safely work an infotainment screen on the fly.
- The brake pedal can be a tad wooden. There is nothing wrong with the Optima’s stopping ability, quite the opposite, but it requires a bit of guesswork to pull the car up smoothly.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?