The 2015 Kia Optima saloon is now on sale in the UK, with prices starting from £21,495.
Kia's fourth-generation Optima was first seen in US specification at the New York motor show in April, with the European version making its debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September.
This new Optima saloon is marginally longer, taller and wider than the previous version, and the wheelbase has been stretched by 25mm. Kia says this allows for increased passenger space and luggage room, with rear passengers receiving a 25mm increase in leg room, as well as more shoulder room. Overall storage space has also increased, from 505 litres in the old Optima to 510 litres in the new version.
The new Optima is also stiffer than the outgoing version, with more than 50% of the body made from high-strength steel. Other advances include increased use of carbonfibre-reinforced plastic, with the aim of reducing weight in order to lower the levels of noise and vibration. The model will be available with 16, 17 and 18in alloy wheels.
While the US variant of the Optima will be built in Georgia in the United States, the car heading to the UK will be built in Korea.
The sole engine option in the UK is a revised version of the current car's 1.7-litre CRDi diesel engine, with power increased to 139bhp and torque pushed to 251lb ft between 1750-2500rpm.
The engine is coupled to Kia's new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which is already offered in the facelifted Ceed, although a six-speed manual gearbox is also offered. Emissions of CO2 have been reduced to 110g/km in manual models, while fuel economy rises to 67.3mpg. In models with automatic transmissions, CO2 rises to 116g/km and fuel consumption is 64.2mpg.
Next year, Kia will bolster the Optima line-up by adding a plug-in hybrid variant, which Autocar has already driven in prototype form, high-performance 'GT' and 'GT Line' versions and an estate model inspired by this year's Sportspace concept.
The options list for the new Optima includes an electronically controlled suspension system, which allows drivers to select between Normal and Sport modes.
At launch, the new Optima will be available in 2, 3 and 4 specifications, with GT and GT Line versions coming later. Entry-level 2 models - which come with manual gearboxes only - receive the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation, reversing camera, air conditioning, electric seats and an electronic parking brake. Mid-range 3 models get the larger 8.0-inch touchscreen system, heated seats, 18in alloy wheels and an upgraded sound system, while range-topping 4 specification includes a wireless mobile phone charger, a 360deg camera system, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.
Prices for the new Kia Optima start at £21,495 for an entry-level manual model, and rise to £28,895 for a range-topping automatic version.