Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - CARS GUIDE - Craig Duff

KIA is look­ing to step up from main­stream player to mar­ket leader and the mid-sized Op­tima sedan is its open­ing salvo.

Rather than pitch the Op­tima as a cheap al­ter­na­tive to a Mazda6 or Toy­ota Camry, the South Korean com­pany has loaded the car with ev­ery­thing from au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing to leather-trimmed seats and satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion.

The price rises ac­cord­ingly to $43,990 be­fore on-road costs for the top-spec GT but Kia is con­fi­dent its seven-year war­ranty will sweeten the deal for most buy­ers and bring it around 3000 sales a year.

It predicts it will be evenly split be­tween fleets, who are ex­pected to opt for the en­try Si model at $34,490 with a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 2.4-litre four-cylin­der en­gine, and pri­vate own­ers who will grav­i­tate to the GT, not least be­cause of its far punchier 2.0-litre turbo en­gine.

“The seven-year war­ranty has helped the brand and our re­sale val­ues, now we’re mov­ing up to the next step which is for the cars to rep­re­sent the best value in each seg­ment, rather than the low­est price,” Kia Aus­tralia chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Damien Mered­ith says.

Op­tima ... there’s even a GT.

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