The next generation Kia Optima mid-size family sedan has landed in Australia and was recently given the once-over by motoring media. The result was an unequivocal thumbs-up.

All-new Kia Optima comes Down Under in two variants: the Si with the proven 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder 138 kW, 241 Nm engine and the GT powered by a new all-aluminium T-GDI 2.0-litre turbocharged motor. Boasting 180 kW and 350 Nm, the latter features a twin-scroll turbocharger and dual continuously variable valve timing technology.

Both engines drive the front wheels through Kia’s own design of six-speed automatic transmission.

This new generation Optima is the first model to be developed under the total control of Peter Schreyer, President and Chief Design Officer of Kia Motors. It features edge surfaces, sharp body lines and creases, and a more elongated sedan silhouette.

The new turbo GT features a more purposeful, bolder look that includes an aggressive front bumper design; black high gloss side sills; a subtle rear air diffuser with integrated dual tailpipes and GT badging.

The wheelbase has been extended by 10 mm to 2805 mm, with the vehicle growing 10 mm to 4855 mm in length. At 1860 mm, 25 mm wider, and 10 mm taller (1465 mm), there’s a roomier and more comfortable cabin, and a bigger boot.

Kia Optima rolls on either 17-inch (Si) or 18-inch (GT) alloy wheels shod with 215/55 R17 Continental rubber on the naturally aspirated model, and performance-rated 235/45 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 3 for the GT. Both carry a full-size spare.


As with many Kia models, Australian engineers were called on to put their stamp on the Optima’s ride and handling. They worked on the suspension’s ability to isolate vibrations and bumps from poor road surfaces, while upgrading the set-up to blend relatively agile handling with good ride comfort.

The Optima turbo GT gets high performance dampers for more immediate response. It has a slightly firmer, sportier ride which will appeal to keen drivers, those who love their comfort should do their private road test before opting for this setup.

The all-new Optima body is made from more high-strength materials. Torsional rigidity has been improved by 50 per cent over the superseded model, the body shell is 8.6 kg lighter.

Active safety systems – those that try to avoid a crash – see vehicle stability management fitted as standard. Advanced Smart Cruise Control, automatically adjusts the Optima’s speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front; Lane Departure Warning employs a camera to warn if the car is wandering out of the lane.

Autonomous Emergency Braking detects a vehicle in front slowing and automatically applies the brakes to avoid a collision; High Beam Assist automatically adjusts headlamp range to avoid glare for other road users; Blind Spot Detection has a visual warning in the door mirror when another car can’t be seen as the mirrors aren’t adjusted correctly (GT only).


A rear view camera and front and rear parking sensors are fitted to all Optimas. Rear Cross Traffic Alert warns against other cars driving behind and to the side of the Optima in car parks while reversing (GT only).

Optima GT owners have the advantage of an active headlight system which tracks steering to sweep the road ahead for greater visibility.

Passive safety for occupants is in the hands of airbags – driver, passenger, two front side and two curtain airbags.

The media launch drive in Sydney and the Southern Highlands saw both Optima Si and GT behave impeccably. Obviously, the turbo power of the latter produced the more sprightly performance of the two.

The naturally aspirated Kia Si engine tended to be raucous when under pressure compared to its force-fed little brother. The rack mounted power-steering in the GT, as opposed to the Si column system, was the more direct and offered highly satisfactory feedback from the road.

Instrumentation has to be some of the clearest and easiest to read of any vehicle on the road and the separation into distinct display and control zones meant the driver needed to take eyes off the road for minimal periods.

Focus of the upper display zone is a new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system (7.0-inch for Si), while the lower control zone offers fewer buttons than the outgoing Optima to manage cabin functions ex-touchscreen.

Soft-touch materials, cloth or leather, set the tone, while metallic accents throughout the cabin add a higher quality ambience.

Soundproofing has been improved over the previous model making for the perfect environment to enjoy the six-speaker audio system in the Si, while GT buyers benefit from a powerful 590 watt Harman Kardon Premium Sound system, featuring 10 speakers, an external amplifier and Clari-Fi MP3 restoration technology.

In a medium-car segment first the new Optima comes with a wireless charger for mobile devices. Located at the base of the central console, the wireless charger lets users charge their phone on the move, without a wire connection.

With ‘foreign object detection’, the 5W charging system activates when a compatible device is placed on the pad and warns owners if a phone has been left on the charger as they leave the vehicle.

Kia says improvements to every aspect make the all-new Optima an even more compelling proposition for buyers, both private and fleet. With a seven-year unlimited kilometre, seven-year capped price servicing and seven-year roadside assist this, Kia believes its new car presents an irresistible package in Australia.


Kia Optima Si: $34,490
Kia Optima GT turbocharged: $43,990
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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