Happy enough performer aimed at the business and fleet buyer
Bright new hope in bigger car segment moves in to tackle the reigning triumvirate. Frederic Manby tries it out.
OPTIMA? Reminds me of something to do with camping. Kia uses the word for its bright new hope in the bigger car segment, a rival to Mondeo, Insignia, Passat – the triumvirate which enthrals company car drivers who can’t reach up for an Audi or, even better a BMW, or even higher, a Mercedes-benz.
The Optima is good. It may even be better than Kia’s brightly written PR blurb suggests. The shape, by its ace stylist Peter Schreyer, is long and coupe-like, with a fine face and a raked hind quarter which hints at the Jaguar XF. It looked quite in place manoeuvring around the grounds of the mega-star parkland hotel in Hampshire where the UK launch took place.
Sales start in February at just under £19,595, rising to a fiver shy of £26,000. I know. It’s a lot for a South Korean wannabe.
In reality, most buyers will not pay this much, because Kia is aiming its Optima full-on at the business user, the fleet buyers, and they will not pay anything like the catalogue price.
In the glossy Press booklet Kia seems to choke on naming the Optima’s predecessor, referring to it bluntly as its previous D sector car. Indeed, it now says this car “had no credibility whatsoever.”
So, if you have a Kia Magentis then you know what its makers think of your choice. I saw one of the way down to Hampshire. It was metallic red, the same shade as the Kia Carens I also saw. Maybe they were going to a Kia golden oldies reunion. Maybe they were happy with their cars.
In the last few years Kia has moved up a gear, jumped up a few rungs of the ladder, on the strength of a sevenyear, 100,000 mile warranty which gets private buyers in the sweet spot. Its new wave cars were the c’eed (sic) hatchback, the smart new Rio, the latest Sportage 4x4 and Picanto city slicker. This year its Mk 2 c’eed arrives, a sleek coupe-esque interpretation of a Ford Focus contender. It is one of several Kia and Hyundai models made in Slovakia, where production reached 252,000 last year, plus 359,000 engines.
Back to the Optima. Any engine as long as it is the 2-litre diesel, a happy enough performer with six manual gears or Kia’s own six speed automatic. This is a £1,500 option on all bar the entry model, so the cheapest automatic Optima is £23,195.
There are several trim grades but all of them have alloy wheels, air conditioning,
In the last few years Kia moved up a gear on the strength of a seven-year, 100,000 mile warranty.
LED “here I come daytime front lights,” a leather rimmed steering wheel, Bluetooth telemetry with voice recognition and music streaming, steering wheel mounted controls, power windows and mirrors, cruise control and a speed limiter. There is a full set of airbags plus stability control.
Higher up the price list you get ventilated seats and parallel parking assistance – both new to Kia, plus a pukka Infinity audio system.
Start up the Optima with manual gears and the thing
SILENT STYLE: All the Kia Optimas have alloy wheels and LED daytime front lights. The manual version also has no engine noise.