The Kia brand has undergone a total and remarkable change in less than a decade. The new Optima provides further evidence of this in a different way. It is more of an evolution of an already very attractive and stylish design.
The All New Kia Optima will arrive here in late December and will go on sale in January with the 1.7D power entry-level EX model starting at €27,950. It boasts a modern exterior, a bold new interior design with more room for driver and passengers, and an array of new convenience and safety equipment.
While the saloon arrives first, a plug-in hybrid version will also arrive in 2016. On my reckoning, that will make four plug-in hybrids available next year in this segment. The latter will also help further widen the appeal of the Optima here in Ireland.
While the 1.7D engine has been retained, it has been significantly improved. Power output has been increased from 136 to 141PS and CO2 on the manual version comes down from 133gms to 120gms with a new annual road tax of just €190.
The CO2 improvement on the new seven speed DCT automatic is even more significant down 42 grams from 158 to 116, and road tax now just €10 more than the manual version.
The new model will offer greater refinement and it drives really well — with improved ride and handling over the outgoing model, while retaining the sporty image that has helped Optima become one of Kia’s best-selling models worldwide.
Kia designers have maintained the key features of the previous model but have introduced sharper body lines and a more elongated sedan silhouette. The result is wheelbase 10mm longer and the full vehicle 10mm longer, 25 mm wider, and 10mm taller, all resulting in more room for drivers, passengers, and luggage. The increased space is accompanied by a totally redesigned interior crafted with the care and attention to detail typically associated with E segment models.
At the European press launch, Kia had statistics to show that there have been more than a million Optimas sold worldwide and, interestingly, that 40 per cent of D-segment (family size ) car owners regard their car as prestigious. Conscious of this and the fact that with luxury of this nature there is a demand for a calm and relaxing driving environment, Kia engineers have ensured that the Optima boasts greater refinement than ever before with considerable work done to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness.
Included in these measures were a larger underfloor cover, more effective windshield seals, increased dashboard insulation, acoustic refinement to the engine, and larger cross member bushings on the front and rear suspension.
Kia Motors Ireland is confident that the new Optima will renew the company’s challenge in the competitive D segment. “When the previous generation Optima went on sale globally it played a significant role in establishing Kia as a design led company and the improvements to the current model especially in performance and fuel efficiency will make the new Optima a more attractive proposition to retail and fleet customers alike," commented Kia Motors Ireland MD, James Brooks.
He added: “In a segment known for its conservatism the Optima offers motorists an option that is both fresh and exciting."
Kia Motors Ireland is offering Optima in three trim levels — EX, Platinum, and GSE — all powered with the 1.7D power unit. The entry level but generously specced EX model comes in at €27,950 and includes 17” alloys, SatNav, climate control, lane departure assist, and speed limit information as standard.
The volume model is expected to be the Platinum model at €31,450 which features a host of additional features including 18” alloy wheels, full leather seats (heated front and rear ), 12-way memory seat for the driver, heated steering wheel, and xenon lights. The Platinum Auto with its seven speed dual clutch transmission also comes with the convenience of wireless phone charging.
Topping the range is the GSE (€34,450 ) with a distinctive beige leather interior, panoramic sunroof, smart key, 8" navigation screen, and 10 speaker 590 watt Harman Kardon premium sound system.
As always the Optima has been designed to achieve five star NCAP safety standards. More extensive use of advanced high-strength steel has led to a 50 per cent improvement in torsional rigidity over the model it replaces while the body shell is also 8.6kg lighter.
Passive safety is further improved for occupants with the total number of airbags increasing to seven. The all-new Optima will be fitted as standard with driver, driver knee, passenger, two front side, and two curtain airbags.
Kia’s vehicle stability management is fitted as standard, ensuring stability under braking and cornering by controlling the car’s electronic stability control and electric motor-driven power steering if it detects a loss of traction. Also added in the Irish range are lane keep assist and speed limit information.