HEADTOHEAD

While cut from the same cloth this pair of Korean mid-siz­ers achieve very dif­fer­ent out­comes, writes Stu­art Martin

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Gotcha! -

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.

Value

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.

Tech­nol­ogy

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.

De­sign

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.

Safety

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.

Driv­ing

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.

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