Top Margin Menu

Kia Optima review

Stunning design with excellent space
Kia Optima review 2012
Quality and equipment but only one engine choice

rating: *** out of five

History, if properly reported, should say that the success of Kia is primarily down to one man, ex-Audi design chief Peter Schreyer who has master minded Kia’s new look to make the brand acceptable and successful in Europe.

He started by creating the new grille and his first blank sheet design was the highly regarded Sportage SUV, which perfectly demonstrated the new Kia design language. Gone was any hint of the Far-East, to be replaced by pure, simple, timeless styling which could happily almost out-Audi, Audi.

Unlike the Sportage, which along with many other Kia models is built in Slovakia, Schreyer’s latest design, the Ford Mondeo-challenging Optima, is made in Korea and since its launch there and in the U.S. a year ago has sold a staggering 300,000.

In the U.S., the Optima is offered with three engines; petrol 2.0 litre 200 bhp,  2.4 turbocharged 274 bhp, or petrol hybrid with a total 206 bhp and the range starts at $21,000, not much more than the UK starting price in sterling.

Kia Optima review 2012Only one engine
Unfortunately in the U.K. there is just one engine option, a 134 bhp diesel, which could be a problem as Kia is targeting the business car market where it has had some success in the last couple of years. There is some talk of the hybrid coming here. When a key player in the sector, the Volkswagen Passat, offers seven engine choices as well as estates, Kia executives are perhaps being a little optimistic in thinking they can take a big slice of the business market.

There is nothing much wrong with the engine Kia is offering, which was developed in Germany for European tastes and was first used in the Sportage.

Certainly the unbeatable 7 year (100,000) mile UK warranty of which the first 3 years are actually unlimited mileage will draw a lot of private customers, although they might be peeved if they knew that the driveline warranty in the U.S. is an amazing ten years.

High build quality
The car is beautifully built with high quality materials and fine panel gaps.  Aerodynamic efficiency is very high, which should have a beneficial effect on real world fuel consumption as opposed to the computer generated combined figures.

Kia Optima review 2012Prices have not been announced in detail but will start at £19,595, which makes it a lot of car for the money and it is a big car, although thanks to the svelte styling, doesn’t look it. To stick with the Passat, the Optima is 76 mm(3”) longer, 10 mm wider, and most importantly for interior space, an extra 83 mm in the wheelbase.

Very high equipment levels
There are four trim levels, 1, 2 Luxe, 2 Tech and 3 with auto available on 2 Luxe, 2 Tech and 3. Even the 1 is very well equipped with Stop and Go, alloy wheels, air conditioning including glovebox, LED daytime running lamps, driver’s seat height and lumbar adjustment, fully adjustable leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, all-electric windows, electric folding mirrors, cruise control, and speed limiter.

The Optima 2 adds solar glass with auto defogging, automatic wipers,  eight-way adjustable powered driver’s seat with memory,  heated front seats, dual zone auto air conditioning, reversing sensors, and paddle shifts on automatic models.

The Optima 2 Luxe version has leather seats and cloth trim, panoramic sunroof with electric blinds, 18-inch alloy wheels, an iPod cable and a reversing camera in the rear-view mirror.

The Optima 2 Tech is equipped with a 12-speaker audio system, 17-inch alloy wheels and touch-screen satellite navigation system with European mapping and an integrated reversing camera. Unfortunately, this will not accept full U.K. post-codes, which is unforgivable.

Kia Optima review 2012

Optima 3 is a combination of the mid-grade 2 models and additionally includes a panoramic sunroof, auto light control, audio system and touch-screen satellite navigation with integrated reversing camera.  Xenon headlamps with automatic levelling, full black leather upholstery, and there’s a cool-ventilated driver’s front seat, heated rear seats and automatic parallel parking assist.  There’s a smart key with start/stop ignition button, mood lighting and alloy pedals.

Apart from the restricted engine choice, the Optima is a fine car with the timeless styling expected of Peter Schreyer, superb engineering, a particularly spacious interior and of course that seven-year warranty. It is a car of premium quality but with a badge that brand victims might struggle to consider. Bought with the head, the Kia Optima would be the right choice in this class, particularly for the private motorist but unfortunately cars are so often chosen by the ‘ego’.

Kia Optima review 2012

© Robert Couldwell January 2012
For publication on WintonsWorld

 Kia Optima
Engine:1,685, 4-cylinder diesel
134 PS at 4,000 rpm
325 Nm at 2,000-2,500 rpm
6-speed manual or 6-speed auto
Acceleration:0-62 10.2 seconds (11.5)
Top Speed:125 mph (122)
Fuel Consumption:
57.6 MPG
CO2:128 g/km (158)
Emissions class:
Euro 5
Length:4,845 mm
1,830 mm without mirrors
Height:1,455 mm
1,559 kg (1,581)
Wheel-base:2,795 mm
Front: McPherson struts. Rear multi-link with torsion stabiliser
Service Intervals:10,000 miles or one year
7 years / 100,000 miles (First 3 years unlimited mileage)
Boot capacity:
633/1,865 litres
Competition:Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia, Renault Laguna, SEAT Exeo, VW Passat
Price:TBA but from £19,595
For:Beautifully built, very spacious and very well equipped
Against:You can have any engine you like as long as it’s a 1.7 diesel
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Site Designed and Administered By Paul Cox Photographic