Kia has been making waves in Europe’s automotive industry in recent years. The South Korean manufacturer is already an established name in Asia and North America, but its sales here have always suffered because it hasn’t had the factory capacity to build models specifically for this market.
As the company has grown, so has capacity. The refreshed Sportage has been a massive hit with customers, but the Optima has always underachieved.
In an attempt to address this, Kia has expanded its range with new estate and hybrid options. Now there are more to choose from, we’ve decided to take a look at the range to see where your money’s best spent.
The smart choice for saving money
If you’re looking to save cash but need a D-segment car, the Optima’s a great option. The entry level model starts at £21,495 but still comes with a decent level of equipment and interior quality isn’t far behind European rivals such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz. That’s the advantage of not being a badge snob.
The Optima’s engine options are extremely limited – there’s one engine in one state of tune. It’s a 1.7-litre turbocharged diesel making 139bhp, and while it’s not the most inspiring lump to drive, it emits just 110g/km of CO2 and returns 67mpg (manual) or 64mpg (auto).
It’s also tax-free for the first year and just £20 for the second year.
The interior’s well kitted out with a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearstick, an air filtration system and cruise control.
The smart choice for value
If you want to save in the long run, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is the way to go. The official fuel economy figures read 177mpg with CO2 emissions of just 37g/km. Naturally, we have to take the fuel economy claim in particular with a pinch of salt, but there’s no denying it’ll be light on petrol.
The 67bhp electric motor has a range of 33 miles and has been designed to work at higher speeds than is usually found on hybrid models. At a recent launch event, we found that keeping in EV mode was the rule rather than the exception, and keeping the petrol engine out of action didn’t require a fear of the throttle pedal.
At £31,495 it might seem like a lot, but there are savings to be made in long-term fuel costs – particularly if you do a lot of city driving – and the fact you don’t have to pay road tax.
For the extra cash you also get some decent kit, including an eight-inch navigation system, wireless phone charging and a 590-watt Harman Kardon sound system.
A suite of safety systems includes blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alerts and a lane-keeping assistant. Advanced smart cruise control makes long-distance driving that much easier, while an autonomous emergency braking system is designed to help avoid crashes.
The smart choice for technophiles
Technophiles will love the Optima Sportswagon GT-Line S. This trim is only available with the seven-speed automatic, but that’s no worry as the engine responds better with this transmission.
Tech features include an eight-inch touch screen navigation and multimedia system, a smart power tailgate, and LED headlights. Sitting in the driver’s seat, the interior looks and feels high quality.
Exterior upgrades are noticeable and elevate the Optima’s already-handsome styling. New 18-inch alloy wheels are fitted, as are a panoramic sliding sunroof and bespoke front and rear bumpers.
At £30,595 it’s not cheap, but it undercuts more established rivals by enough to make it a worthwhile choice.