We have always liked the look of the current gen Kia Optima. Bold, stylish and altogether more appealing than a bland Mondeo.
The Optima comes with just one engine choice, a 1.7 litre CRDi Diesel with 134 BHP and 325 Nm of torque. 0-60 is a rather average 10.2 seconds.
In Optima 2 spec our test car cost £21,895.
From the outside the Optima really isn’t a bad looker at all. A chiselled front end with the now endemic tiger nose and ‘ice cube’ style daytime running lights leads to a very sleek sloping C pillar at the rear.
In fact, seeing it side on you would think this saloon had a hatchback, but it actually has the more traditional boot, albeit well hidden amongst those sleek rear lines.
At the back you find a huge pair of wrap around style brake lights, fully LED they have a really premium look to them as they simply glow red rather than being individual LED’s.
It is for want of a better word a little plain at some angles. The alloys do look a somewhat lost in comparison to the size of the car and the exhaust pipe should ideally be dual to balance out the rear end, it would also give it a bit more road presence.
With 134 BHP in a 4.8 metre beast like this we did wonder how it would cope. Thanks to 325 Nm of torque from the 1.7 diesel engine doesn’t fair too badly. It can be a little slow to accelerate initially, especially from a standing start.
But that feels more like lag being built into the pedal rather than the engine, which is a shame. It makes the Optima feel a little slow and dim witted.
0-60 comes up in 10.2 seconds, a little lethargic but in reality it doesn’t feel all that slow.
You will notice a fair amount of engine noise creeping into the cabin whilst you are revving it, but this soon dies down to become inaudible at higher speeds.
Ride is quite supple, it handles undulations with a little rebound and is especially adept to motorway cruising, munching up mile after mile with ease.
We only managed 44 MPG, Kia claim an Urban rating of 49.6 so it wasn’t too far away from that. We did however manage to squeeze an amazing 530 miles out of a single 70 litre tank.
Inside the Optima you find a driver focussed dashboard, everything is slightly angled toward the right hand side.
A smart looking centre console is furnished with some decent looking plastic buttons and dials.
The touch screen is now erring on the small side compared to more modern competition but it functions well and the Sat Nav never missed a beat.
The ‘Infinity’ stereo is also pretty decent, with a sub built into the rear parcel shelf.
Naturally with this being Korean there are some questionable wood trims, looking all too fake we couldn’t help but think gloss black or some brushed aluminium would have been far more aesthetically pleasing.
Rear seat leg and head room is superb, the Optima would easily accommodate four adults on the longest of journey with ease.
As for the boot, it’s equally expansive. Loading in larger items may be tricky due to the small opening, but for longer items you can release the rear seats with a simple pull of a lever from the boot.
Kia’s first attempt to crack the family saloon market is very impressive. It’s a shame they have limited it to just a 1.7 diesel engine (although this is to aim the car squarely at fleet buyers) as we think if it had 20-50 BHP more it would be a superb car.
As we said at the beginning it’s far less bland than a Mondeo and most of its rivals, it’s the alternative choice in what is ultimately a very tough segment.
Kia Optima – Chiselled looks, sluggish get away, superb rear leg room, decent ride!