26.1.2012 Kia Optima CRDi '2 Tech' review
Kia's swish looking Optima saloon is 18 months later getting here than Kia UK intended because of runaway demand in US, China and Korea. The interior is spot on too with everything pretty much where you expect it, top quality fit and finish and a spacious interior with room for five adults.
It's very quiet too with only a firm ride catching it out over poor surfaces, mainly for those in the back. Boot space is a handy 500+ litres before you flip down the rear seat(s). The Optima is a really good car and supply constraints should help keep up second hand values, especially with that peace of mind warranty. Watch out Ford's Mondeo and even Volkswagen's Passat.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
Despite its size and weight (1559 kg), Kia's new Optima saloon delivers brisk and pleasing performance once you have got the revs up and the turbocharger is boosting the power of the small 1685 cc four-cylinder diesel engine, but you still have to make best use of the six-speed manual gearbox. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 10.2 seconds, whilst top speed is 125 mph. Maximum torque of 325 lbs ft is available from 2,000 rpm to 2,500 rpm, and maximum power is 134 bhp at 4,000 rpm. Plans to also offer the car with a petrol engine have been shelved.
The Optima may be a surprise for those who say the Japanese and Koreans still can't do handling. It feels as nimble as a Ford Mondeo on most roads and won't disappoint the keener, press-on driver looking for more than a mobile sofa. Under-steer is well controlled and the Optima needs extreme provocation to plough straight on at a bend. Electronic stability control is standard while a stability management system improves driver control if it senses the driver applying too much or too little steering effort. The Optima handles well on the biggest 18 inch diameter wheels but I suspect would deliver a smoother ride on the 16 or 17 inch wheels available on less high trim levels.
Another great styling job under the guidance of new Kia design chief Peter (Audi TT) Schreyer. Strikingly handsome with a dynamism and vitality few saloons possess, the Optima passes muster alongside Ford’s Mondeo or Jaguar's XF. It's as sleek as it looks with a wind cheating drag coefficient of 0.29 and particularly classy in darker colours. Naturally it looks most dramatic with the top model's 18 inch diameter wheels, but the 'rubber' on smaller ones would be less vulnerable to potholes and cheaper to replace. Its length is 4845 mm and it is 1830 mm wide.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
They obviously don't drive quickly in Korea as the brakes feel soft if hurrying despite front and rear discs, ventilated at the front. Electrically assisted power steering, which saves fuel over hydraulic, is usually pretty dire for driver 'feel' but Kia has done a good job and it inspires confidence.
Front and rear seat space is more than adequate for six-footers. Boot capacity is 505 litres and the rear seats fold 60:40 to increase carrying capacity. Centre console tray – thank you! – is big enough for a mobile phone and close to auxiliary and USB slots. Heated and cooled ventilated seats, self parking system and cornering lights are available.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Pick the Optima with six-speed manual gearbox and fuel figures of 49 mpg round town and 58 mpg on the combined cycle await you. We averaged 48 mpg on a busy test route. CO2 emissions of just 128 g/km worsen to 158 g/km if you opt for the six-speed automatic transmission for an extra £1,500. Year two road tax also rises from £95 for the manual to £165 for the auto. First year is free for the band D manual. Kia's warranty remains the one to beat: seven years / 100,000 miles.
The standard Eco Dynamics package on manual gearbox models is mainly automatic start-stop and a gear indication arrow to prompt the driver when changing up would save fuel. An Active Eco control button on automatic models reduces power when motoring gently, by adjusting the engine's electronic management system – it also decreases the amount the compressor cuts in on the climate control system bringing claimed potential fuel savings of 9%. A diesel particulate filter (DPF) to trap sooty emissions is standard on all models. These features combine to award the Optima a Next Green Car Rating of 37.
Trim levels are Kia's familiar 1, 2 and 3 with mid-range trims offering the choice of Luxe or Tech trim. Standard equipment includes alloy wheels, air conditioning, daytime LED running lights, leather rimmed steering wheel with audio controls, Bluetooth phone connectivity with voice control, cruise control, speed limiter, electric windows and electrically adjustable folding mirrors. Mid and high grades have 12-speaker sound systems, parallel parking assist, leather upholstery, reversing camera and ventilated driver's seat. Automatic models have an Active Eco switch to improve fuel consumption when required. The glass roof has two electric blinds.
Model tested: Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi 2 Tech
Body-style: Family saloon
Engine/CO2: 134 bhp 1685 cc four-cylinder turbo diesel / 128 gCO2/km
Trim grades: 1, 2, 3 plus Luxe or Tech
On-road price: From £19,595 Test car (including options) £21,695
Warranty: Seven years / 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 4.0 STARS
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