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Kia Optima Review

Kia Optima Tested May 2016

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Quick Summary

A quality budget alternative to rivals that doesn't get the attention it deserves - and it's a good driver's car to boot.

Road Test

Kia gets plenty of headlines these days and rightly so - its cars have come to stand for quality, lots of kit as standard and great value. And, while the likes of the cee'd get plenty of attention, the Optima doesn't.

Maybe it's because in some ways it's not a fashionable car - five-door hatchbacks like the c'eed, the Ford Focus and the VW Golf are far more popular these days with buyers than four-door saloons like this. But telling that to the likes of Audi, whose A4 remains a heavyweight, not to mention machines like the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, Jaguar XE and even the resurgent Ford Mondeo.

Perhaps this all-new fourth generation car will lift the Optima up in people's minds. It's is a proper four-door saloon, with lots of room in the back and a big boot.

And it wouldn't even be a stretch to consider it as a budget Audi A4. 

If that's a bit much for you then it definitely rivals the aforementioned Mondeo, as well as the Skoda Superb and Vauxhall Insignia. Quality levels, while not quite a match for the Germans, are as excellent as ever and there's lots of standard gear - alloys, reversing camera, touch screen nav system and dual-zone air con are all included.

On the inside it's well-appointed for this segment with, as mentioned, quality materials and a feel above what it costs. Rear passengers, much like in the Skoda Superb, get acres of legroom. While much of this might not come as too much of a surprise, the way it drives might.

There's just one powerplant - a 1.7 diesel - although a hybrid has been mooted for 2017. It's a great engine, with a smooth, effortless drive and the manual gearbox is light and satisfying.  It all adds up to a truly enjoyable experience from behind the steering wheel.

That oil-burner is efficient, too, with 110g/km of CO2 on the manual and 116g/km on the auto. Combined mpg is 67 on paper and you'll sit happily in the mid-40s in the real world without batting an eyelid, with 50-plus attainable on long trips. 

Looks-wise it stands out from the crowd as well and, dare we say, is one of the more attractive cars in this market, stepping away from the blandness that has been bestowed upon some rivals. Standard kit, as we've seen, is good, but you can add to it to your heart's desire - there's even a prestige harman/kardon stereo available. And that illustrates as well as anything just how far Kia has come.

We know it's a purveyor of very good cars and has been for some time, but the Optima demonstrates that that's true across the range, not just on the headline-grabbing models.

And you don't get a seven-year warranty anywhere else, either. Kia's motto is 'The Power to Surprise'. Never a truer word spoken.

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