While cut from the same cloth this pair of Korean mid-sizers achieve very different outcomes, writes Stuart Martin
A pattern is forming here: Hyundai releases a car and about six months later Kia releases a version that drives a whole lot better. That’s why we put the i45 and the Optima to the test.
There’s only one model in the Optima range, so there’s few options apart from “prestige’’ paint. The extensive features list includes a reversing camera and rear sensors and keyless entry. There is also a trip computer, dual zone climate control and auxiliary and USB inputs. It should be noted there’s no sat-nav.
The 2.4-litre engine offers 148kW and 250Nm with a 16-valve direct-injection top-end, two-stage variable induction system and variable valve timing. The six-speed automatic is an in-house Hyundai/Kia transmission, with eco mode and paddleshifters.
By far the funkier looking of the two, the Optima has an aggressive stance and sporty mesh grille. The shoulder-line looks great in profile but rear passengers might feel a little claustrophobic due to the the lifting line towards the C-pillar.
Stability control, anti-lock brakes, dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags are all on the list. The Optima also has automatic xenon HID headlights with LED tail lights and front running lights, but no rain-sensing wipers. The brakes are discs all round.
The driver-oriented cabin and low-slung stance say “driver’s car’’. It sits on a suspension that’s firm but not uncomfortable. Steering feel isn’t overwhelming but the weighting is good. Rear legroom is adequate but headroom is at a premium.