Lord of the es­tate

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Lee Gib­son

ITH two-thirds of ex­ec­u­tive and large fam­ily cars sold across Europe be­ing es­tates it’s per­haps sur­pris­ing that Kia has not got around to mak­ing one be­fore.

Bet­ter late than never, though, and, with one eye firmly on fleet buy­ers, the up­wardly mo­bile Korean car-maker has plugged the gap in its range with the Optima Sportswagon.

The new load lug­ger ar­rived in the UK in Septem­ber with three trim lines echo­ing those of its sa­loon coun­ter­part – 2, 3 and the range-top­ping GT-Line S.

All ver­sions are, also like the sa­loon, pow­ered by Kia’s proven 1.7-litre tur­bod­iesel en­gine – although a sporty GT ver­sion is set to go on sale in early 2017 which will fea­ture a 2.0 litre petrol power pack.

While the choice of trim and pow­er­train may seem lim­ited com­pared to ri­vals like the Ford Mon­deo, Mazda6 and Vaux­hall In­signia es­tates, the Kia’s sharp looks, im­pres­sive equip­ment lev­els and keen pric­ing will en­sure it is com­pet­i­tive.

De­signed in Europe to be sold ex­clu­sively here the Optima Sportswagon’s sleek, rak­ish lines make it one of the best look­ing es­tate cars around – and the GT-Line S is even eas­ier on the eye thanks to be­spoke 18-inch al­loys and a sporty body kit which in­cludes a mus­cu­lar front end, side sills and twin chrome-tipped tailpipes. In­side, the range-top­per is dis­tin­guished from other models by its leather up­hol­stery with con­trast stitch­ing, a sim­i­larly trimmed rac­ing-style multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel and al­loy ped­als.

The good looks, though, don’t come at the ex­pense of the prac­ti­cal­ity that es­tate buy­ers are look­ing for.

Although head­room is im­pacted slightly by the tilt­ing and slid­ing panoramic sun­roof in this flag­ship ver­sion space is oth­er­wise good, with de­cent rear legroom and a 552-litre boot which in­cludes two un­der­floor stor­age com­part­ments.

Load ca­pac­ity rises to a whop­ping 1,686 litres with the 40:20:40 split rear seats folded down and lift­ing bulky or awk­ward items in and out is made eas­ier by the flat load lip.

Equip­ment lev­els are im­pres­sive, and this is where the Optima Sportswagon re­ally scores over sim­i­larly priced ri­vals.

All models get sat­nav, re­vers­ing cam­era, Blue­tooth and USB con­nec­tiv­ity, dual-zone au­to­matic air con­di­tion­ing, cruise con­trol, heated fold­ing wing mir­rors, DAB ra­dio, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol and hill-start as­sist.

My top-spec model also had such niceties as an eight-way power ad­justable driver’s seat, heated and cooled front seats, rear pri­vacy glass, wire­less mo­bile phone charger, 360-de­gree around view mon­i­tor, park­ing as­sist and a raft of ex­tra safety aids.

The diesel power pack is vo­cal on start-up and un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion but soon qui­etens down and, with­out set­ting the pulse rac­ing, of­fers plenty of pep when it’s needed.

Some re­spon­sive and nim­ble han­dling, for such a size­able car, and good body con­trol in bends hints at a more ex­cit­ing drive when the GT ver­sion hits the roads.

The diesel, how­ever, is likely to re­main the pop­u­lar choice with the tar­get au­di­ence of busi­ness buy­ers be­cause of the low run­ning costs on of­fer. Paired ex­clu­sively with a seven-speed dou­ble clutch au­to­matic gear­box in GT-Line S trim it claims more than 61 miles per gal­lon on av­er­age and car­bon emis­sions of 120g/km.

On the open road, the Optima Sportswagon proves a com­fort­able cruiser – and that’s where most buy­ers are likely to spend much of their time driv­ing it.

TEST DRIVE KIA OPTIMA SPORTSWAGON 1.7 CRDI ‘GT-LINE S’ DCT

The Kia Optima Sportswagon of­fers im­pres­sive equip­ment lev­els

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