New Optima is a winner
sharper and more enjoyable feel than the i45, by changing a bunch of stuff including much stiffer springs.
The Optima looks more like a Saab than a previous-generation Kia.
That’s a big compliment for a car which is both more restrained and elegant than the i45, as well as more of a head-turner than a Camry.
The design work runs from the latest corporate Kia grille to trendy dishstyle alloy wheels and a cabin which is less funky than Hyundai but more likely to appeal to someone shopping the Optima against a Japanese car.
Some of the luxury touches are a bit old-school, like the fake wood trim, but the overall effect is classy and the quality seems good.
Kia is still waiting on independent test results but claims five-star safety for the Optima.
It is fully loaded with everything from ABS brakes and stability control to hill-start help, reverse parking camera and radar, cornering lamps and daytime running lamps.
Safety is another area where Kia knows it has to make an impact and it’s ticking all the boxes.
The new Optima makes a strong first impression, firstly for its looks and impressive equipment and then for its driving. It’s not a sports car, but it doesn’t have to be one.
But the Optima remains a cheaper Korean contender from a company still learning the ropes, and that means the seats are lacking support, some of the trim pieces look a bit fragile, and the engine is not as responsive as a European unit.
Still, the Optima is $36,990 and will be a winner for Kia. The only problem is stocks are limited to just 1000 cars.
‘‘We think we could sell 10,000 but that is all we can get from Korea. We are trying as hard as possible to get more,’’ apologised the head of Kia Australia, MKKim.