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.

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES -

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.

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