Kia Optima

THE NEW Kia Optima is a giant step forward for Kia, taking it into the business-user sector dominated by the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia.

The Optima is keenly priced and generously equipped, and of course comes with Kia’s remarkable seven-year warranty. There is no doubt this new model is an outstanding contender.

With the business sector in mind, Kia has launched the Optima with only one engine option – a 134 hp 1.7 litre diesel unit offering impressive fuel economy and low emissions. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a six-speed auto transmission available at extra cost.

Priced from £19,995 to £25,995, the Optima has a classy premium look. Even though a booted saloon, its clever styling gives it charismatic coupe appearance.

The boot is large — 505 litres and loading is user-friendly thanks to a low rear sill. The rear seatbacks also fold down to increase the load space.

There are several trim levels, with even entry-version very well equipped.
Standard features include air-con, LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, all-round power windows, cruise control, speed limiter, and alloy wheels.

Mid-range models also get powered driver’s seat with memory setting, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, auto wipers, reverse parking camera, and, on automatic models, steering-wheel paddle-shifters.

Flagship versions have other features including panoramic sunroof with electric blinds, larger 18-inch alloy wheels, black and chrome radiator grille surround, side sill mouldings and front and rear valances, giving a more sporty look.

My test model was the mid-range  Optima Tech which features leather and cloth upholstery, a 7-inch touchscreen SatNav, an integrated reversing camera, a  premium  audio system and 17-inch alloy wheels. It costs £21,695. It had the standard manual gearbox.

The 1.7 litre diesel engine, with 134 hp on tap, is a good compromise of performance and economy. Top speed is 125mph and the 0- 60mph time is 10.2 seconds, neither class-leading but still very acceptable and of course helping deliver a very impressive 57.8 mpg combined.

In driving terms, the Optima is excellent – smooth, quiet, fluent. It is a comfortable car to be in, rides well, and has assured handling even on twisty roads and rough surfaces. There is good steering feedback, and the gear shift is precise and the power delivery responsive. All-in-all a very nice car to be in, and one which will certainly win over many new customers for Kia.

FOR: Smart styling, generous equipment levels, spacious well-designed interior, great fuel economy and outstanding warranty.

AGAINST: Not much – maybe the odd-shaped front grille needs a little more refining!

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