Kia Optima SW vs Skoda Superb Estate vs VW Passat Estate
Kia has joined the battle in the estate class with its new Optima SW. Can it beat the Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Passat?
SUVs have stolen a march on traditional family estates when it comes to hauling around your brood and their luggage. Crossovers tend to offer a little more style alongside their practicality, but plenty of manufacturers are complementing their SUV offerings with sharply designed tourers – and the latest to hit the market is Kia’s Optima Sportswagon.
The large estate car sector is still crowded, and the Optima SW is going up against talented rivals in the form of the Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Superb estates. The former won the Best Estate Car title at the 2015 Auto Express New Car Awards, but was knocked off the top spot this year by the latter, so with two award winners to contend with the Kia has a battle on its hands.
But it has the credentials to push both the Skoda and the VW, as in top-spec GT-Line S trim it comes with an efficient 1.7-litre turbodiesel engine, hooked up to a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and plenty of equipment as standard.
Buyers after an estate need practicality, so does the Kia get the basics right and blend this with sharp styling, or does it fall short?
As they’re based on the same platform, you’d expect the Skoda and VW to have an identical wheelbase. However, the Superb is 50mm longer between the axles than the Passat, and it feels it, because there’s more legroom in the rear. The Kia’s wheelbase is only 36mm shorter than the Skoda’s, so there’s still decent space.
Both the Skoda and VW offer different driving modes, ranging from more comfortable settings to sportier modes that sharpen the throttle, steering and adjust the firmness of the suspension if adaptive dampers are fitted. The difference between Kia’s Eco and Sport settings isn’t as obvious.
Kia’s chief designer Peter Schreyer has done a great job with the Optima SW – but there are hints of the Audi A6 from the rear (Schreyer used to work for Audi). It’s a classy wagon that’s a match for the simple lines on the Superb and Passat.
First place: Skoda Superb Estate
The Superb Estate’s mix of qualities sees it victorious yet again. It’s affordable, efficient, practical and fun to drive. It has the Kia easily beaten, and while it was slightly slower than the Passat, this isn’t noticeable on the road, whereas the more forgiving ride is. Factor in the extra boot space, and the agile 2.0 TDI Skoda with a DSG box is still our estate car champion.
Second place: Volkswagen Passat Estate
The Passat remains a great family estate, but as it’s more expensive, doesn’t offer as much luggage space and isn’t as well equipped, the only reason you’d go for it over the Skoda is for the badge. Although the VW is still great to drive and efficient, you get more for your money with the Superb, which looks a better ownership prospect than the Passat, too.
Third place: Kia Optima Sportswagon
Big family estates need to be comfortable, spacious and efficient, and while the Kia offers a competitive level of load space, it’s not as efficient as its rivals. Poor residuals and a high price make it expensive for private and business buyers alike. So while the Optima SW looks sharp and gets lots of standard kit, the ride quality and performance mean it finishes third.
Is it worth waiting for this model?
Mazda 6 Tourer 2.2D 175 Auto Sport Nav
Due: AutumnPrice: £27,995Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 173bhp
Car group tests
Used car tests
|Skoda Superb Estate SE L Exec 2.0 TDI (150) DSG
|VW Passat Estate SE Business 2.0 TDI (150) DSG
|Kia Optima SW GT-Line S 1.7 CRDi DCT
|On the road price/total as tested
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost
|£279 (two services)
|£329 (three services)
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel
|66 litres/repair kit
|66 litres/space saver
|70 litres/repair kit
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)
|Turning circle/drag coefficient
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery
|Service intervals/UK dealers
|20,000 miles (1yr)/187
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th
|50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket
|Climate control/leather/heated seats
|Met paint/LED lights/power tailgate