The Optima is a big step up for Kia in terms of quality and driving dynamics. It is accompanied by an equally large lift in price. Kia is smart enough to expect that to put some buyers off but confident enough to predict it will still earn sales from those looking for a mainstream sedan with more than a hint of luxury.
“We’re not expecting huge numbers but we are expecting it to appeal to buyers who want an executive standard and style.”
Standard gear on the GT includes an eight-inch touchscreen with satnav and a reversing camera, 10-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot and lane-departure warnings, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive headlamps and tyre pressure monitors.
Both front seats are powered and fitted with heaters and fans and the cabin quality steps up to challenge the best in class in terms of soft-touch materials and
of features button layout. There’s also inductive charging for (selected) Android mobile phones and a panoramic sunroof.
The styling is relatively unchanged, with new lights and a longer, leaner “Schreyer” grille with Mercedes-like diamond effect studs. The Si stands out with a trio of LEDS making up each fog light, while the GT has larger vertical vents with chrome struts mounted in either edge of the front bumper to channel air around the front wheels and a diffuser on the rear bumper.
ANCAP has yet to rate the Optima but it is reasonable to expect a five-star rating given the Hyundai Sonata earned top marks without the Kia’s active safety suite.
ON THE ROAD
AS the fastest kid in the midsized field the Optima justifies the GT tag adorning its rear end and emblazoned on the seat backs and flat-bottomed steering wheel. It’s no sports car but it is more than capable of rewarding drivers with a spirited run on mountain roads.
Turn-in grip from the 18-inch Michelins is great and changes to the suspension have improved the Kia’s ride and handling compared to the previous model. The sportier focus for the GT means it makes minor concessions to around-town cosseting in favour of better response and reaction to higher speed hits.
Noise suppression is a highlight, as is rear head and legroom and the gaping boot which still houses a full-size spare. The length of the cargo area means pushing smaller items to the back may require some contorting to retrieve them.