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Selwyn Times: January 24, 2017 My My Kaywa QR-Code 32 Tuesday January 24 2017 Driven SELWYN TIMES Optima tempts in shrinking market • By Ross Kiddie ELEGANCE, STYLE and performance don’t always go hand-in-hand in motor vehicle manufacture. But Korea’s Kia Corporation has certainly done that with the new mid-to-large sedan, the Optima. Well, when I say new, the Optima is mostly all new, it has a new chassis and it is bigger than before, but it looks little different, it still has the same sleek body style, and the latest iteration builds on those values I’ve just mentioned. The Optima reeks of flair and fashion, it sits low and it has a body style that oozes desire, that element is also carried over to the interior, the entire car has had a refresh with a renewed emphasis on quality trim and materials. There is little difference in price either, in fact it could well be cheaper than the outgoing model depending on specification. Limited specification comes in at $48,990; for that money the Optima comes well specced, major features include satellite navigation, radar cruise control, full leather trim with heated front seats with electric seat adjustment, heated steering wheel and paddle shift gearbox. KIA OPTIMA LTD: Design flair oozes desire. It’s fair to say, though, the evaluation car was top spec, an EX variant sits $3200 below that and it would probably be my choice given it doesn’t miss out on much and it has cloth trim which is my preference. All that aside, both variants get a 2.4-litre petrol engine. It’s not a new unit, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if has had a bit of a makeover in terms of refinement, such is the quiet and sophisticated way the Optima drives, the engine is a major part of the hushed way in which the car travels. And as I eluded to in my introduction, the Optima isn’t short on performance. Rated at 138kW and 241Nm, the twin-camshaft, 16-valve unit has plenty of urge. It drives through the low and close ratios of a six-speed automatic gearbox, together the driveline promotes swift acceleration and easy momentum when it reaches the driver’s desired speed. It’s hard to detect how hard the engine is working, for a big block four-cylinder it is uncannily subdued, and even under acceleration sound is well isolated from the cabin. Unfortunately, my testing time was cut a little short, an engine maintenance warning light flicked up on the dash during the time the test car was in my care, so I was very circumspect as to how I drove the car, and how far. That aside, the engine has a lot of usable torque through the mid range which means it is happy slugging it out in the areas where fuel use is minimised. Kia claims an 8.3-litre per 100km (34mpg) combined cycle average for the Optima and that figure is quite realistic, during my time with the test car the fuel usage readout was constantly listing around 9l/100km (31mpg) along with a 6l/100km (47mpg) figure available instantaneously at 100km/h (engine speed 1700rpm). The Optima cruises beautifully, it has a plush ride and sound is deadened. Kia has utilised a fully independent, front stunt/rear multiple link set-up. I like these arrangements, the rear wheels have freedom and springs and shocks are allowed to do their job unimpeded. Mid-corner bumps are dealt to without deviation off-line, while at the other end steerage is direct and turn-in is accurate. Riding on high quality • Price – Kia Optima Ltd, $48,990 • Dimensions – Length, 4855mm; width, 1860mm; height, 1465mm • Configuration – Fourcylinder, front-wheel-drive, 2359cc, 138kW, 241Nm, six-speed automatic. • Performance – 0-100km/h, 8.8sec • Fuel usage – 8.3l/100km Michelin Pilot rubber (235/45 x 18in), the sport specification tyres have strong grip properties along with little sound. They are also partly responsible for the strong steering feel, the driver is fully involved with the handling process. Creating a new car and building on the success of its predecessor is a complicated and difficult process, but Kia has always done that well, and the Optima is a good example of how sophisticated the modern sedan has come to be. It’s just a pity that the sedan market in languishing in an age where a buyer’s first choice is generally a sport utility vehicle. 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