Kia kits out the Optima to take on bigger-ticket rivals
Australia only able to get 1000 this year. But those arrive here in a single upscale Platinum spec level, with great looks, and some success in the maker’s attempts to better suit the suspension and steering to Australian tastes.
The $36,990 Optima is as-well kitted out— or better— than some of its higher-priced competitors. The standard list includes full-leather upholstery, eight-way powered driver’s seat (four-way for front passenger and heating/cooling for both), premium Infinity audio system with aux/USB/ iPod compatibility, electric folding mirrors, headlight washers, panoramic sunroof, cooling glovebox, rear parking camera with direction guides integrated into the rear view mirror, reverse parking sensors and dusk-sensing automatic headlights. Sadly, however, there is no satnav at this stage.
The Belgian-built Ford Mondeo Zetec hatch is $750 more and it misses out on most of the Optima’s higher-spec equipment, but has a better engine with the benefit of turbocharging.
The Optima’s kissing cousin is the Hyundai i45 Premium sedan (there’s no hatch) at $2000 more with the same platform, great styling and similar spec, adds satnav but has poorer ride and handling.
The Toyota Camry Grande is $3000 more, and has similar spec to the Optima, although it rides on 17-inch alloys and a sunroof costs extra. The Camry leads the sales race with more than double the number of the second-placed Mondeo and that’s probably not going to change any time soon.
Honda’s Accord Euro Luxury is $3150 more, but is still the best all-rounder package in the segment, combining a good engine with solid quality, excellent comfort and well-stacked equipment list, including 10-speaker audio, front parking sensors and trailer sway sensors.
The Mazda6 Luxury sedan is the most expensive of the sales leaders at nearly $4000 more and is also about on par with spec— with the major omission a reversing camera. This is the one for a fun drive but the firm ride could be tiring
if it’s used as a family vehicle.
The Optima looks classy and sharp but with styling inside and out pitched to appeal to a broad range of tastes. Visibility is good, and the panoramic double sunroof helps to open up the cabin visually, although it’s a trial for tall-torso drivers. Split-fold rear seats help make the most of the space.
Touches that give it that bit extra include the alloy sports pedals and illuminated badging