AT A GLANCE

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - USED CAR -

NEW

Korean mak­ers shed their cheap-and-cheer­ful tag long ago but it was still a sur­prise to find Kia get­ting in on the Aussie sedan act when it launched the Optima.

The Optima, rather than be­ing a full-size car to ri­val the Com­modore and Fal­con, was a marginally smaller mid-sizer aimed at Holden and Ford buy­ers want­ing to down­size.

For­mer rusted-on Com­modore or Fal­con buy­ers had three Optima specs to choose from, kick­ing off with the Si, top­ping out with the feature-packed Plat­inum and, po­si­tioned be­tween them for a short pe­riod, the SLi. A stylish sedan that seam­lessly blended in with the lo­cal land­scape, the Optima also could ac­com­mo­date five adults in de­cent com­fort, front and back.

Add a good-sized boot and the flex­i­bil­ity of a split-fold rear seat and you have a pretty im­pres­sive and us­able pack­age.

For the driv­e­train, Kia used 2.4-litre four-cylin­der en­gine and six-speed au­to­matic that de­liv­ered an at­trac­tive blend of per­for­mance and econ­omy.

Mak­ing it even more ap­peal­ing to lo­cal buy­ers was the news that lo­cal en­gi­neers had tuned the sus­pen­sion to bet­ter suit our roads. The re­sult: im­pres­sive ride and han­dling. The Optima also gained five safety stars from ANCAP thanks to a pow­er­ful ar­ray of fea­tures in­clud­ing front, head and side airbags and emer­gency brak­ing as­sis­tance.

The nu­mer­ous stan­dard fea­tures in­cluded cli­mate­con­trolled air­con, cruise con­trol, leather trim, xenon head­lamps and CD au­dio.

On top of that, the Optima‘s seven-year war­ranty was a com­fort to any­one doubt­ing Kia’s build qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity.

NOW

Few com­plaints cross the Cars­guide desk re­gard­ing the Optima or, for that mat­ter, Kia cars in gen­eral. It’s a re­sound­ing en­dorse­ment for the com­pany’s abil­ity to build qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity into its cars.

Cars di­rectly sam­pled over the past year or two have been well built and pleas­ant to drive. Without rat­tles and squeaks, they ap­pear to be hold­ing up well over the longer term.

The ear­li­est ex­am­ples of the TF Optima, which came here in 2011, have done on av­er­age 80,000km-130,000km so the show­room gloss is fad­ing.

Own­ers are gen­er­ally a con­tented lot and we have lit­tle to sug­gest they shouldn’t be. Still, it’s im­por­tant to thor­oughly road test any car be­fore buy­ing it.

It’s par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to iden­tify any signs of owner abuse or lack of care, ei­ther by dam­age, even su­per­fi­cial, to the body or in­te­rior, and par­tic­u­larly through lack of main­te­nance.

Check your cho­sen car’s ser­vice record to en­sure it’s been well main­tained.

The Optima has a con­ven­tional auto, so it doesn’t have the driv­ing quirks of DSGs or CVTs, but make sure that it shifts smoothly and without hes­i­ta­tion.

There have been no re­calls of the Optima.

OWN­ERS SAY

Me­gan Tu­dor I love my 2012 Optima Plat­inum. It looks stun­ning, goes well and is packed with fea­tures. Barry Bur­ton I think the Optima is greatly un­der­rated,

KIA OPTIMA 2011-14 PRICE NEW

$30,490-$36,990

PRICE NOW

Si $13,000-$23,000, SLi $17,500-$21,000, Plat­inum $15,000-$30,000 5 stars 2.4-litre 4-cyl, 148kW/250Nm

SAFETY EN­GINE

TRANS­MIS­SION

6-speed auto; FWD 7.9L/100km

THIRST

It’s a Toy­ota. Noth­ing ex­cit­ing but it’s well built, a car you can rely on.

Pay $9500-$26,000 VW JETTA 2011-14

Does ev­ery­thing well but, given VW’s re­cent re­li­a­bil­ity woes, should be ap­proached with cau­tion.

Pay $9000-$28,000 HONDA AC­CORD 2011-14

Well-built, re­li­able, safe, drives well and is fea­turepacked. A de­light.

Pay $12,000-$40,000

Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

I’ve had two and never had an ounce of trou­ble with ei­ther of them. They’re in­ex­pen­sive, safe and packed with fea­tures. Trevor Har­ring­ton The Optima is great value for money and the seven-year war­ranty gives great peace of mind. It han­dles well, is com­fort­able, has a large boot and looks good. Ken Price My 2013 Plat­inum is stylish, prac­ti­cal, packed with fea­tures and has a great war­ranty. It’s no rocket ship but it’s not too bad. Don Stor­rar My 2013 Plat­inum has been re­li­able and trou­ble­free from the day I bought it new. It han­dles and per­forms well, and eas­ily ac­com­mo­dates my fam­ily of five. It’s a joy to drive.

SMITHY SAYS

It’s an ap­peal­ing and af­ford­able mid-sized sedan for the fam­ily.

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