to gold

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

Driv­ing

AUS­TRALIA gets the pick of the Op­tima range but none of that went on show when the car held its in­ter­na­tional launch this week in Dubai.

Ba­si­cally, what was served up by Kia was the higher-spec body – which we will call Plat­inum – but with­out the Aussie-bound tauter sus­pen­sion, tighter all-hy­draulic steer­ing and the 2.4-litre GDI en­gine.

Our test cars had the 2.4-litre non-GDI en­gine and stan­dard soft sus­pen­sion – both not on our shop­ping list.

‘‘ There is beauty in the ex­te­rior but there’s also a spa­cious and very friendly in­te­rior that has strong over­tones of cars in­clud­ing Volk­swa­gen’s Pas­sat

But on top-class bi­tu­men rib­bons that al­ter­nate from ri­fle-bar­rel straights through the moon­scape dunes to squig­gles up and down rocky hills de­void of veg­e­ta­tion, these pre­pro­duc­tion cars showed that Kia is on to a good thing.

Specif­i­cally, the six-speed au­to­matic gear­box works very well with the base en­gine. It’s smooth and the ra­tios spread right out so 110km/h comes up at only 2000 revs.

There is beauty in the ex­te­rior – and that will win sales – but there’s also a spa­cious and very friendly in­te­rior that has strong over­tones of cars in­clud­ing Volk­swa­gen’s Pas­sat, a car Kia puts top of its list as the bench­mark for its new Op­tima.

The driv­ing po­si­tion is more like a sports sedan than a mid-size fam­ily car.

Adapt­ing to the driver’s seat is made easy by elec­tric ad­just­ment and tilt/tele­scopic move­ment for the steer­ing wheel.

Con­trols are well laid out, the stitched vinyl dash­board pad looks great and the In­fin­ity sound sys­tem is a wel­come ad­di­tion to a car that I found both quiet and with a sup­ple ride.

How­ever, the fi­nal ride com­fort rat­ing won’t be known un­til its Jan­uary launch in Aus­tralia.

Seat com­fort is very good de­spite the small width of the cush­ions, but the foot-op­er­ated park brake is old-fash­ioned in this car, as is the red il­lu­mi­na­tion for the ra­dio and vent con­trols.

It’s im­pres­sive, and the down­sides of this test – the en­gine could do with more pep and the steer­ing was vague – will, says Kia, be ad­dressed by the time the car hits our shores.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.