Kia Optima

KIA HAS pitched a strong contender into the business sector, the new Kia Optima saloon. It comes only with a 1.7 litre diesel engine, which offers lower emissions and good economy, thus making it very appealing to the business user.

Kia Optima – surprising combined fuel figure

The Optima – priced from £19,995  to £25,995 – is the result of both European and American design and it is a car which looks distinctive and classy.

With a longer-than-average wheelbase for the sector, it offers roomy occupant space even in the back, and a substantial 505-litre boot. Although a saloon, the rear seats do fold flat for extra load versatility.

The diesel engine provides 134 hp, a top speed of  125 mph and a respectable
0-60 mph time of 10.2 seconds. The surprise is the combined fuel figure, an impressive 57.6 mpg. Emissions are just 128 g/km, minimising road tax.

There is a standard 6-speed manual gerarbox, and the option (around £1,500) of a six-speed auto transmission, but while slick and smooth, it does result in lower economy and higher emissions – an important cost issue for some potential buyers.

Four levels of trim and equipment are available, designated as 1, 2 and 3 and the mid-range 2 versions also offer Luxe or Tech versions. 

Standard features on all models includes air-con, LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, all-round power windows, cruise control and alloy wheels.

I tested several Optima variants  and I think the 2 Tech model at £21, 695 is likely to be a popular choice among business users. It comes with extra features including leather and cloth upholstery, a 7-inch touchscreen Sat Nav, integrated reversing camera, a premium  audio system and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The Optima certainly looks sharp and elegant and the interior is excellent, with quality trim and a superior standard of fit and finish. Anyone getting into the car without knowing the maker might well think it was of German standard, a great tribute to the growing status of the Kia marque.

The cabin is well laid out with user-friendly controls and a clean functional look.
Seating is very comfortable and supportive.

On the road, the Optima drives beautifully, with ease and  fluency, and delivers very comfortable ride quality and assured handling.

Add all that to its obvious build-integrity and eye-catching styling and it becomes immediately clear that the Optima will make a big impact in its sector.

FOR: Quality appearance, drivability, good equipment levels, excellent economy.

AGAINST: Massive gaping-mouth front grille is an acquired taste. I think it would look better being smaller!

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