Kia Optima Hybrid revealed in LA

The Optima Hybrid, which can run on electric power alone or as a hybrid model, has been designed for the US market, making it unlikely it will be seen in the UK in the short term.

However, it does demonstrate Kia’s research into hybrid cars and could lead to a hybrid model in its new UK range in future.

The Kia Optima Hybrid uses a 2.4-litre petrol engine complemented by a 30kW electric motor powered by lithium polymer batteries.

Combined, the hybrid system can propel to saloon to 121mph and offers acceleration from standing to 62mph in 9.2 seconds.

The hybrid model shares the same front-wheel drive and suspension systems seen in UK versions but adds some new cockpit features to match the innovative powertrain solution.

The UK Kia Optima is Kia’s attempt to break into the saloon market in the UK, dominated by volume manufacturers such as Vauxhall and Ford.

Built as an entirely new car, the Optima employs a flared wheel arches and sculpted flanks to give it a sportier feel. This can be further enhanced with a Sport Package adding exterior styling and performance options such as larger disc brakes and high performance dampers.

It is longer, lower and wider than any previous saloon from Kia, and European versions will be available with a 1.7-litre diesel engine delivering 136ps or a 2.0-litre 170ps petrol alternative.

While the European D-Segment is expected to decrease in the next few years, Kia wants a bigger share of the market in more sectors to continue its impressive European growth.

The all-new Kia Optima will be available for UK buyers in the middle of 2011.