In-depth reviews

Kia Optima review - MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

The Kia Optima is cheap to buy and run, and even holds on to its value quite well

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs Rating

4.1 out of 5

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There are two engine options on the Kia Optima. A 1.7-litre CRDi diesel, and a PHEV plug-in hybrid. The diesel will suit most buyers, but if you're after rock-bottom running costs and have regular access to a charge point, the PHEV could work for you. 

The diesel-powered Kia Optima is a frugal machine, though, averaging 67.3mpg on the combined cycle, with CO2 emissions as low as 110g/km. Kia says that’s an efficiency improvement of 14 per cent over the pre-facelift car, and aside from the environmental benefits, these figures also mean a low tax bill for both private and company car drivers.

However, compared with more recent rivals such as the Mazda 3 Fastback and Audi A3 Saloon, the Optima trails behind. Likewise the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb both offer a much wider choice of engines, and the most efficient will return close to 80mpg. That said, you’ll have to do a fairly big annual mileage to win back the Optima’s purchase cost advantage.

Choosing an automatic gearbox for your Optima will have an impact on running costs, too, but it’s nothing like as much of a sacrifice as the old auto ‘box demanded. Figures for the new dual clutch transmission are 64mpg combined economy and 116g/km of CO2. It’s quite a costly option though, and only available on higher spec cars.

The PHEV comes in one trim and uses a six-speed dual clutch gearbox. Kia claims 33g/km CO2 emissions and you're likely to get an electric-only range of about 20 miles, but you'll benefit from the Kia's low tax band regardless. This could be particularly handy for company car drivers, who will love the Optima's seven per cent BIK tax band. The PHEV can be charged using a normal domestic power supply. This can replenish the cells fully in around three hours – and that’s the quickest time, as there's no DC charging option at present.


While the Kia brand has grown in reputation in leaps and bounds in recent years, the residual values have been slowly improving too. Our used car valuation experts CAP suggest the Optima will retain between 43 and 49 per cent of its new cost after three years and 30,000 miles of motoring. The best performer will be the entry-level Optima 2, which will lose around £6k less of your money than the more expensive Optima 4 auto at resale time. 

Even after the £2,500 plug-in car grant, the Optima PHEV is a pricey plug-in model. It helps offset this premium with a generous tally of kit, but the gadgets will be cold comfort to private buyers facing poor 38.8 per cent residuals.


Insurance for the Optima will be group 19 for the entry model, and group 20 for the remainder of the line-up. Not quite the cheapest around, as the Ford Mondeo groups start at 17. An Optima PHEV falls into group 25.

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