The Optima has been a leading light of the mid-size sedan market since it was first unveiled in 2011 by South Korean manufacturer Kia. Now re-styled for 2015, it’s a premium saloon in the mould of a Ford Mondeo, Skoda Superb or Hyundai i40 (the Kia’s sister car), but with quality and features that cannot be surpassed within its price range.
The Kia Optima 2015 has a driving experience that will continually thrill even the most practiced of executive drivers, but backs it up with safety features that also make it ideal for a family run-around. The technology is intuitive enough for all ages to use, while advanced security measures and posture support would also make this a great option for older drivers.
It’s an evolution rather than revolution for the exterior, but Kia have been characteristically bold with features such as the LED running lights that flank the distinctive grill. The latest model also retains its sporting look, sitting low to the road, with features such as the small rear windows giving it a look closer to a coupé than a sedan.
Kia have kept it simple with the trim packages on offer, with the Optima 2015 range comprising of just three models. But, with such a cost-effective option, why stop with the basic package? The higher spec models go up from 17” to 18” alloy wheels, with extra chrome features, Xenon headlights, high-gloss paintwork, headlight washers and the option of a ‘white pearl’ paint job.
The exterior changes maybe only minor, but from a technological perspective, this could be a new dawn for cost-effective mid-size sedans.
In the cabin, the Kia caters to all tastes, featuring chrome and top-quality plastics alongside higher-spec inclusions, such as leather and elegant wood panelling on the central console. Even the basic version of this model is gadget rich, with Bluetooth connectivity, a high-res TFT trip computer display and heated rear seats to name just a few of the techy innovations on offer. Drivers of the specification ‘2’ or ‘3’ will see the ante upped with additional features, such as air ventilated and heated seats, dual zone air conditioning, sat nav and smart key system.
Driver ergonomics are a great advance on the previous model, such as the repositioning of the cruise control buttons towards the right-hand side of the steering wheel. To ensure a distraction-free driving experience, the steering wheel acts as a central hub for accessing numerous other features, including the paddle shift gear change and audio controls.
With such a mammoth-sized wheel base for a car in its class, interior space is generous to say the least. The driver’s seating position has been raised to afford extra visibility without losing out on headroom, whilst passengers in the back might struggle to find a use for all the additional leg space. The boot is similarly apportioned at 505 litres, with an extra full-sized alloy wheel squeezed in for good measure, while passengers have the choice of storing their wares in one of many cubby holes, including a chilled glovebox, compartment in the central console and bottle holders.
On the road
In its element as a motorway cruiser, the Optima really comes in to its own as it eats up the tarmac above 3,500rpm. However, for a car that could do with shedding a couple of pounds, it is no slouch when it comes to cornering. The Kia will surprise you with the ease at which it responds when pointed towards winding country lanes or tight inner-city spaces, whilst the soft suspension will give you a ride so smooth that passengers in the back could fill in their paperwork.
As a family sedan (and with the South Korean market generally securing its reputation for reliability) safety is the watchword for the Optima 2015, with all models fitted with six airbags, stability control, ABS and brakeforce distribution as standard. The upgraded UVO 2 system now features geo fence and speed alerts, and owners will take peace of mind from recent five-star ratings in front-end, side-impact and rollover tests courtesy of The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Optima 2015 has been soaking up the safety accolades, picking up top marks in all but one category of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) tests and earning the title of ‘Top Safety Pick’.
So far, we’ve only had a sneak preview of the 1.7 litre diesel incarnation, which has improved on the last model for power and torque, both of which can be delivered with lower revs. Word is that Kia also plan to release an estate version, and even a plug-in hybrid at some point in 2016. The diesel option records a respectable 57.6 mpg, with a low to mid-weight CO2 emission figure of between 158 – 128 g/km.
The Kia Optima brings a certain feng shui to the 2015 edition, with a place for everything and everyone. The panoramic roof brings order to nature, whilst the gamut of gadgets is simple enough for people of any age to enjoy, and they also add an extra dimension of safety. This car is in its element as an executive sedan, but would be a great choice for families or older audiences.
With all this on offer, plus a surprisingly engaging driver experience and price tag starting at just £21,000, it’s clear this is one of the picks of the year for new releases in its class.
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