Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Reasons for Optimism

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Reasons for Optimism

Article excerpt

KIA'S Mondeo-sized medium range Optima saloon keeps its handsome looks and grows in stature, with the main improvements made to this second generation version targeting re-finement, interior style and space.

With this much improved model, Kia aims to challenge the market leaders and even worry a few of the more premium players.

The first thing to acknowledge is that the Kia Optima has lost weight, shedding up to 65kg.

The sole 1.7-litre diesel engine on offer now produces 140PS, while lowend grunt has been improved by an electronically controller turbocharger to deliver 340Nm of torque at lower engine speeds.

That's an increase of 15Nm over the old model, resulting in fractionally quicker acceleration times of 10 seconds from 0 to 62mph for the manual and 11 seconds in the automatic.

There has been a marginal increase in top speeds as well, with both transmission variants topping out at 126mph.

There's the option of a new more efficient twin-clutch DCT auto gearbox with this engine. And Kia has also developed a petrol/electric hybrid model with a 2.0-litre GDI petrol engine mated to a 50 kW electric motor. Total power output for the package is 205PS.

By stretching out the wheelbase, stiffening the body with 'Advanced High-Strength Steel' and upgrading the suspension, Kia have sought to improve handling dynamics, while an updated and repositioned electronic 'Motor-Driven Power Steering' system should offer more feel at the helm.

One of the biggest criticisms of the outgoing Optima was an unsatisfactory level of refinement. Kia engineers have been focussing on Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) innovations to reduce road, wind and engine noise, stiffening the body to avoid vibration and rattles, and improving the seals and insulation around the car.

Despite losing weight, the revised Optima has grown in every direction, affording even greater rear legroom than before - though that wasn't really an issue in the earlier model. …

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