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Kia Optima

EVER THE OPTIMIST (some text hidden)

By Car & Driving

This much improved version of mid-sized Kia's Optima model may look familiar, but the developments are in the details. The experts at Car & Driving take a closer look.

Ten Second Reviewword count: 66

Kia's Mondeo-sized medium range Optima model keeps its handsome looks and grows in stature, with the main improvements made to this second generation version targeting refinement, interior style and space. There's also now a Sportswagon estate derivative and even a plug-in hybrid option. Overall, with this much improved model, Kia aims to challenge the market leaders and even worry a few of the more premium players.

Backgroundword count: 163

This Kia Optima is somewhat confusingly billed as a 'fourth-generation' model but this is the second generation version of this car that we've seen here. Earlier models were known as the 'Magentis' in Britain and shared much of their underpinnings with Hyundai's Sonata. The Magentis was well built, cheap and well equipped but there wasn't anything very aspirational about it. In contrast, the Optima saloon we first saw in this country in late 2011 was very different, with styling from Kia's Chief Designer Peter Schreyer that signalled a move upmarket. This was an unashamed attempt to win over customers from the segment heavyweights such as the Ford Mondeo or Volkswagen's Passat and it was nearly good enough. These days though, Kia isn't satisfied with 'nearly good enough' and in creating this thoroughly redesigned model, the Korean brand's designers and engineers have been focussing their attention on ride and handling, refinement, interior style and practicality. Have all their efforts paid off? Let's look closer.

Driving Experienceword count: 259

The first thing to acknowledge is that the Kia Optima has lost weight, shedding up to 65kg. The 1.7-litre diesel engine on offer in mainstream models now produces 139bhp, while low-end grunt has been improved by an electronically controller turbocharger to deliver 340Nm of torque at lower engine speeds. That's an increase of 15Nm over the old model, resulting in fractionally quicker acceleration times of just under 10 seconds from 0 to 62mph for the manual and just under 11 seconds in the automatic. There has been a marginal increase in top speeds as well, with the auto transmission variant topping out at 126mph. That auto is a more efficient twin-clutch DCT gearbox. Kia has also developed a petrol/electric hybrid model with a 2.0-litre GDI petrol engine mated to a 50 kW electric motor. Total power output for the package is 202bhp. You can also talk to your dealer about a minority-interest flagship sporting GT model which gets a 242bhp 2.0-litre T-GDI turbo petrol unit. With all Optimas, by stretching out the wheelbase, stiffening the body with 'Advanced High-Strength Steel' and upgrading the suspension, Kia have sought to improve handling dynamics, while an updated and repositioned electronic 'Motor-Driven Power Steering' system should offer more feel at the helm. One of the biggest criticisms of the outgoing Optima was an unsatisfactory level of refinement. Kia engineers have been focussing on Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) innovations to reduce road, wind and engine noise, stiffening the body to avoid vibration and rattles, and improving the seals and insulation around the car.

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Pictures (high res disabled)

Statistics (subset of data only)

Min

Max

0-60 mph (s):

10.2

11.5

Combined mpg:

47.1

57.6

CO2 (g/km):

128

Extra urban mpg:

57.6

64.2

Height (mm):

1455

Insurance group:

17

20

... and 8 other stats available

Scoring (subset of scores)

Category: Family Cars

Performance
60%
Handling
60%
Comfort
80%
Space
70%
Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.

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