Value hybrid estate
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.