What is it?
The Kia Optima family saloon, which launches in the UK next month. And it’s an ominous sign for this Korean car-maker’s key European rivals. Kia now has attractive, credible, well-priced models on offer in all of Europe’s main new car market segments, in Picanto, Rio, Cee’d and new Optima – three out of four of which are only twelve months old or younger.
What’s it like?
The Optima continues Kia’s rich vein of form. After a morning test-driving right-hand drive versions in rural Hampshire, it’s clear that this family saloon has athletic and well-rounded handling that’s entirely compatible with British roads, as well as good-mannered refinement to match its apparent practicality, decent material quality and assertive good looks.
Although there’s only one engine on offer for UK buyers, there are several model trims – and, on the evidence of our early testing, you’ll be rewarded for picking the right one.
The engine is Hyundai-Kia’s 134bhp 1.7-litre turbodiesel. It suffers with the same poor low-rpm throttle response that we identified in the Hyundai i40 Tourer. That much can be expected, considering the smaller-than-normal swept capacity. Largely forgiven, too, on account of the real world fuel economy the Optima returns (better than 45mpg on a mixed route), and the engine’s quiet, smooth, torquey and more responsive performance above 2000rpm. This is an engine you quickly learn to keep on a gentle rolling simmer when brisk progress is called for. That’s also no chore using the substantial, staccato gearshift.