Like a fine Italian suit Optima has real style

THE views of new car owners about their vehicles is extremely important to manufacturers which is why Kia must be pleased with the reaction to their latest Optima that is up against some very capable competitors such as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia and several others writes Bryan Longworth.

For comments from owners of the Optima on the website of a top motoring publication all state how pleased they are with the car and I agree with them because this market sector is one of the toughest in the business and I was impressed with the handsome Optima which succeeded the Magentis.

New Optima is arguably the best looking larger car from Kia which is not surprising because it has been designed by Peter Schreyer their design chief who has worked his magic on the Korean company’s range since he joined them from Audi and sent UK sales soaring - at the model launch Schreyer aptly described the car as having the crispness of a fine Italian suit!

Choosing a suitable engine for the Optima which is covered by the Kia seven year warranty is not difficult as there is only one power unit which is a 1.7-litre 134bhp turbocharged diesel producing CO2 emissions of 128g/km that means quite low tax bills with a top speed of 125mph an acceleration time of zero to 60mph of 10.2 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 47.1mpg.

My first reaction to the test car was that it was a real looker with bags of street appeal which was obvious when several admirers who had not seen an Optima previously asked me about it and like me they were impressed with the car that was the Optima with the top “3” specification costing £24,495.

Optima which starts at £19,995 has been aimed at the high mileage UK business community which is why only a diesel engine is offered but I am sure it will also have considerable appeal to private owners because it is a user friendly car with a roomy and comfortable interior especially the two front seats that have been re-designed.

It is a pleasant car to drive with quite light precise steering and the six speed manual gearbox provides positive changes with an automatic available for drivers who don’t like DIY gearchanging and the test car had a powered driving seat which enabled me to get a tailor made driving position - I find some cars have a problem providing this feature.

With this being the top spec model it was loaded with standard kit including a high end Infinity audio system, smart park assist, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, panoramic sunroof, xenon headlights plus ventilated and heated front seats and heated rear seats.

The aircraft themed fascia and centre console are tilted towards the driver so that all the major controls are within easy reach and vision which is a feature BMW introduced to their cars and the well designed speedometer is also easy to see in all driving conditions.

The large boot is accessed remotely via a control on the key fob and under the load area floor is a full size spare wheel which is something of a rarity these days and which added to the value for money appeal of the Optima.

I found it difficult to find anything to criticise but one thing made me ponder - the clutch pedal was quite a stretch for my fairly long left leg and I wondered if drivers with short legs might have a problem!

But overall the latest Optima is a very good car both for business users and private owners providing a very credible alternative to other cars in this segment especially for those who want a very attractive alternative.

Fact File

Model: Kia Optima 1,7 CRDi 3.

Engine: 1.7-litre four cylinder turbo diesel.

Output: 134bhp @ 4000rpm.

Transmission: Six speed manual.

Top speed: 125mph.

Acceleration: 0 to 60mph 10.2 seconds.

Fuel consumption: 57.6mpg combined.

CO2 emissions: 128g/km.

Price: £24,495 on the road.