What is it?

Optima is Kia’s big, flashy sedan – not to be confused with the recently released Stinger. We first drove this car way back in 2010 in the Emirates, before it had even been released in Australia. It impressed then and has come on in leaps and bounds since. Facelifted in late 2015 it comes in two flavours, Si and GT – with a choice of naturally aspirated or turbocharged engines.

 

What’s it cost?

Prices start at $34,490 for the 2.4-litre Si or $44,490 for the top spec 2.0-litre GT turbo. For $44,490 you get just about everything that opens and closes, including leather, climate air with rear outlets, heated and cooled seats, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam, front and rear parking sensors, panoramic sunroof, noise cancelling technology, wireless phone charging and a large 8in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The GT also boasts all the latest safety tech including auto braking along with a big 590 watt Harman Kardon audio system that has 10 speakers, an external amplifier and Clari-Fi MP3 restoration technology.

What’s it go like?

If you can afford the GT it’s the way to go.

The turbo produces heaps more torque, lower in the rev range, making the car a breeze to drive.

Torque is the stuff that V8s produce plenty of, but you can achieve a similar result by force feeding a smaller engine with a turbocharger – albeit with a bit of lag sometimes.

Fortunately, our test car exhibited little or no lag.

The 2.4-litre naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engines produces 138kW and 241Nm while the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine in the GT pumps out a handy 180kW of power and 350Nm of torque.

Both engines are teamed with a 6-speed automatic that in the GT includes column mounted gear shift paddles.

Not only does the GT deliver plenty of power it’s also remarkably fuel efficient.

Rated at 8.5L/100km, we clocked up just over 700km in a quick trip up the coast and another out west, at the rate of 7.5L/100km (it takes ordinary unleaded too).

Reading between the lines they’ve put a lot of time and effort into improving the ride and handling of this car, which has a 10mm longer wheelbase, a much stiffer chassis and even stronger, more rigid alloys.

Previously the 17in wheels of the Si produced a much better ride, but this time around the ride is smoother and refined, even with the larger 18s of the GT fitted.

Okay, I hear you say, but it’s front-wheel drive like a bloody Camry?

Yes, but this is front-wheel drive done with style and feeling – any misgivings you might have are quickly forgotten after five minutes behind the wheel.

Select sport mode and you’re good to go, as the car accelerates rapidly, turning eagerly into the first corner.

Not bad, especially using the paddles.

Then there’s the 7-year warranty to consider.

Don’t forget that.

 

What we like?

  • Stunning looks
  • Solid feel with doors that go thunk!
  • Effortless performance
  • Roomy, comfortable interior
  • Biggish boot with full size alloy spare
  • Cabin has an upmarket expensive feel
  • No skimping on safety features

 

What we don’t?

  • Tad too expensive
  • Styling has actually been dumbed down a bit
  • Adaptive cruise leaves too much of a gap (then so do a lot of cars)

 

Deal or no deal?

Shave $5000 off the price and this car will walk out the door. Maybe with the Falcon and Commodore out of the picture sales will pick up. The Optima GT ticks all the boxes and then some.

Kia Optima GT, priced fro $44,490
  • 9/10
    Looks - 9.0/10
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8.0/10
  • 8/10
    Safety - 8.0/10
  • 7.5/10
    Thirst - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Practicality - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Comfort - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Tech - 8.0/10
  • 8/10
    Value - 8.0/10
7.9/10

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.