Lord of the estate
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