New Op­tima is a win­ner

NT News - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - From pre­vi­ous page

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.

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