Kia Optima review
The Kia Optima is a stylish saloon that offers plenty of kit and is great to drive, too
The stylish Kia Optima shares its engine and drivetrain with the Hyundai i40, and is designed to rival big-sellers such as the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb, with a blend of bold styling, sharp driving dynamics and low running costs. There's only one engine to choose from, but a 2.0-litre petrol and a hybrid version will join the line-up later in 2012. Every model comes very well equipped, with standard kit including 16-inch alloys, tinted glass and Bluetooth. Plus, every Kia gets a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty for complete peace of mind.
Our choice: Optima 1.7 CRDi 2 Tech
The Kia Optima is every bit as striking as the Hyundai i40, and we think it actually looks better than its cousin, thanks to the smart single-frame grille, angled LED lights and Jaguar-style rear end. The dashboard layout is easy enough to navigate and all the buttons on the centre console are robust and precise, although it can’t match the Hyundai for quality or flair. There are four trim levels: 1, 2 Luxe, 2 Tech and 3. Entry-level cars come with 16-inch alloy wheels, tinted glass, front and rear fog lights, Bluetooth and USB connectivity fitted as standard. Mid-spec cars get 18-inch alloys, automatic lights and wipers, a panoramic roof and dual-zone air-con, while top-spec cars come fitted with Xenons, ambient lights, full black leather upholstery and a seven-inch touchscreen sat-nav.
There's only one engine to choose from but it does come with eight a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox. The 1.7-litre diesel produces 134bhp and 325 NM of torque. It's capable of doing 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds and has a top speed of 125mph. A 2.0-litre petrol and a hybrid version with 187bhp will become available later. On the road, the Optima has the dynamic edge but it's not quite as fun to drive as the Ford Mondeo. The steering is accurate, there's decent grip and the gearshift is smooth, too. But the ride is firm and the Optima is slightly less refined at speed, with more wind and road noise.
The Optima hasn't yet been crash tested by Euro NCAP but it's sister car, the Hyundai i40, has a five-star rating, with a n impressive 92 per cent of adult occupant. Every version comes with ABS, ESP and driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags. Although the Optima is too new to judge its long-term reliability, Kia does have an excellent reputation. It finished 12th out of 30 overall in the 2012 Driver Power survey and every Kia comes with a seven-year, 100,000 mile warranty.
The Optima has a 505-litre boot - this compares to 525 litres for the i40 and 565 litres for the Skoda Superb hatchback. The rear seats fold with one touch when you do need more space but the opening into the bulkhead is a bit awkward, and the boot lacks the height needed to carry bulkier items. That said, the Optima has a longer wheelbase than the i40, which means it has masses of legroom in the back, plus visibility is good as the driver sits a bit higher. There's lots of cubby holes around the cabin, too, as every version comes with a cooled glovebox, big bottle holders and a lidded compartment in the centre console.
The 1.7-litre diesel comes fitted with a stop-start system as standard, which helps it to return average fuel consumption of 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 128g/km. This means that road tax will be reasonably low, too. But opting for the automatic has a huge effect on efficiency, with Kia claiming figures of 47.1mpg and 158g/km.