Value hy­brid es­tate

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By David Ward COVENTRY TELE­GRAPH

KIA has added an­other string to its hy­brid bow with the ar­rival of the Optima PHEV Sportswagon. It is a sis­ter to the sa­loon ver­sion and like all car mak­ers the Kore­ans con­tinue to go down the hy­brid route look­ing to the fu­ture.

Clearly aimed at the com­pany car driver for tax ben­e­fits (BiK is just 13 per cent) rather than the fam­ily es­tate mo­torists, this new­comer has all the hall­marks of Kia’s value for money tag.

To start with this Optima PHEV Sportswagon – there’s just one ver­sion based on Kia’s ‘3’ trim level range of cars – has that in­dus­try lead­ing seven-year / 100,000 mile war­ranty.

Com­ing in at £35,145 (after in­clud­ing the govern­ment’s £2,500 low emis­sion grant) it’s not par­tic­u­larly cheap when com­pared to £31,365 for the top spec GT-Line 1.7-litre com­bus­tion en­gined Optima Sportswagon but it’s cheaper than its main hy­brid ri­val, Volk­swa­gen’s Pas­sat GTE Es­tate, priced at over £42,000.

The price dif­fer­ence be­tween the Optima sa­loon and es­tate hy­brid is only £1,150 and as both share the same power trains – a two-litre, four cylin­der 154bhp petrol en­gine along­side a 11.26kWh elec­tric bat­tery – it’s a ques­tion for buy­ers of ei­ther need­ing the ex­tra lug­gage space in the es­tate or stick­ing to a sa­loon.

As it’s a plug-in hy­brid the main con­cern for driv­ers is the time it takes to charge up the bat­tery when ei­ther parked in the drive­way at home or in the of­fice car park.

Us­ing the power kit sup­plied it can be plugged into a con­ven­tional three-pin house­hold socket and it takes just over five hours to fully recharge.

If the driver has a spe­cial wall­box sys­tem at home the charg­ing time is around two to three hours from a flat bat­tery – and the Sport­wa­gen can then run, says Kia, on 38 miles us­ing just elec­tric­ity, al­though on test this reached just 30 miles.

The car’s hy­brid range is up to 695 miles ac­cord­ing to Kia but in re­al­ity it was av­er­ag­ing around 450 miles which is still not to be sneezed. Again, com­pany car driv­ers in par­tic­u­lar will also be pleased at the CO2 of just 33g/ km.

Driv­ing in ur­ban ar­eas it’s so quiet and ef­fi­cient with the move from elec­tric to com­bus­tion en­gine quite seam­less. At mo­tor­way speeds the car ac­cel­er­ates well with the au­to­matic gear­box changes ex­cep­tion­ally smooth, helped by light yet pre­cise steer­ing, and even though it’s 200kg heav­ier than the con­ven­tion­ally pow­ered model most driv­ers won’t no­tice any real dif­fer­ence.

It’s ag­ile enough and the sus­pen­sion makes for a com­fort­able, quiet ride even out at speed on the open road.

This PHEV model has an im­pres­sive list of stan­dard kit on board with an eight-inch touch­screen, sat nav, Ap­pleCarPlay, An­droid Auto smart­phone plus a nice Har­mon Karda sound sys­tem and a re­vers­ing cam­era. There’s also as stan­dard hill start, cruise con­trol, speed lim­iter, tyre pres­sure warn­ing, anti-lock brakes, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol and much more.

Like all Kia cars to­day the in­te­rior is well put to­gether with nice, soft plas­tic trim and there’s bags of both head and leg room in the front and rear seats.

All in all there’s a min­i­mal loss of 15 litres of space for be­ing a hy­brid which in com­par­i­son to the 440 litres of lug­gage space still avail­able is in­signif­i­cant and any driver will still re­gard its load car­ry­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties as ex­cel­lent.

Kia has again hit the nail on the head in pro­duc­ing an im­pres­sive hy­brid es­tate car that will not ap­peal to ev­ery­one but does ex­actly what it says on the tin.

Price­wise and weigh­ing up all the high level of stan­dard equip­ment on board it’s good value for the money for any­one look­ing at this still niche sec­tor of the mar­ket.

That ex­ten­sive Kia war­ranty is also a vi­tal con­sid­er­a­tion for mo­torists look­ing for an ef­fi­cient load lug­ger.

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