Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

European Style and Substance; on the Receiving End of a Minor Refresh, Grant Edwards Finds This Sedan Appears to Be Drinking from the Fountain of Eternal Youth

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

European Style and Substance; on the Receiving End of a Minor Refresh, Grant Edwards Finds This Sedan Appears to Be Drinking from the Fountain of Eternal Youth

Article excerpt

What matters most

What we liked: Good exterior looks, new safety features on Platinum model, quiet ride, steering feel compared with early models.

What we'd like to see: Hatch variant could widen appeal, perhaps Kia's 1.6-litre turbo engine.

Warranty and servicing: Five-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is annual or every 15,000km, average price is $377.

NOT so long ago, a Kia travelling through Melbourne's affluent suburbs would have been a rare sight.

Yet our recently updated Optima cut a swath through leafy surrounds and confidently mixed it with the German marques which have traditionally been the weapon of choice for the well-heeled.

Kia has come a long way in a short time, and there are few better examples than the Optima. It has been around for a few years, but the design, drivability, fit and finish is difficult to fault.

Pricing has risen slightly across the range, but the extra coin is worthy of the specification upgrades.

The Si is now $30,990 (up $300), mid-spec SLi is $35,990 (increased $1000) and Platinum is $40,490 (raised $1200).

Upgrades to the mid-sizer coincide with the first generation Optima's unveiling at the Australian Open back in 2011.

It plays in a competitive mid-size segment where sales were down 16.4% last year, with key players the Toyota Camry, Mazda6 and Honda's Accord. Australians are gravitating toward SUVs and smaller hatches, but for buyers who still want space and comfort, the Optima remains offers a roomy cabin and good bang for your buck.

Comfort

Inside and out, it looks the goods. The quality, fit and finish is edging toward the Europeans.

Travelling in the high-grade Platinum model, there were no disappointments with the styling.

Some previous Kia interiors have fallen short of modern expectations but the Optima ups the ante. The chrome trim has been replaced with a satin finish, while the centre stack wears a more up-market, high-gloss black.

Up front, and the seats are much improved. They have larger bolsters and better under-thigh support, which made for a comfortable ride.

Families can appreciate the sizable back seat and, being a front-wheel drive, there is additional leg room for anyone sitting in the centre rear pew.

On the road

There have been no mechanical changes, and Kia has stuck with the 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol partnered with a six-speed automatic.

With linear power delivery, the Optima gets along nicely with minimal fuss. Whether around town or on the highway, it's adequate for most drivers' needs.

Accelerate hard and the four-potter does tend to sing and the power shunt isn't likely to throw you back into the seat, but that is something not typically required by buyers in this genre.

When we first sampled the Optima a few years back, the steering was extremely light and lifeless, this has been addressed in subsequent models and it's now well-weighted and much more responsive. …

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