This is the newest version of the D-segment Optima. Tasked with competing against the likes of the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Volkswagen Passat, it must also tempt people away from the ever-popular crossover.
Saying that, Kia reckons plenty of people are still after a big saloon car. Its research suggests that 10 percent of new cars sold will still come from this category even a few years down the line. With that in mind, it’s a market share worth fighting for.
It would seem that revolution has become evolution for this new model. Up front is the familiar ‘tiger nose’ grille, albeit reshaped and with a little more chrome.
The headlights and bumper gain a bit more definition, while at the back the tail-lights are wider than before and now LED.
Cheap-feeling interior plastics and far too many buttons didn’t do the old car any favours, while on the move refinement and driving dynamics were below par.
With this in mind, Kia has increased the wheelbase by 10mm, the width by 25mm and the height by 10mm. The bodyshell is made with 50 percent more high-strength steel than before, while the use of structural adhesive is up by a whopping 450 percent.
This increases torsional rigidity by 50 percent, helping safety, refinement and handling. There are also different bushes for the cross members, an additional lower link for the rear suspension and plenty more soundproofing.
Under the bonnet, both the saloon and sportwagon use the familiar 1.7 CRDi turbodiesel, now with an additional 5bhp and 11Ib ft. More important, this twist is available 250rpm further down the rev range than before, at 1750rpm. For the first time there is also a hybrid version of the saloon powered by a 202bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine alongside an electric motor.
There’s also a smorgasbord of active safety features available, such as lane-keeping assist, an around-view monitor, active cruise control, auto braking, a rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.
Like the old model, it’s still a handsome saloon that offers bags of space inside. Unlike the old model, it now steers and rides with aplomb and feels much more like a quality item inside.