A stiffer suspension set-up means the new Optima is more agile in corners and doesn’t get out of shape when you ask it to perform quick changes of direction.
While the Ford Mondeo has 14 engine choices, the Optima gets just one. The 1.7-litre four-cylinder diesel is the same as in the old model, but gets a modest five horsepower boost and an increase in torque, up from 239 lb ft to 250 lb ft. It doesn’t sound like much, but reduces the amount of gear changes needed to keep up with traffic.
You're not exactly spoiled by choice
The upgraded 1.7-litre engine also brings better fuel economy efficiency– fuel consumption has improved by 10mpg to 67.8mpg combined and CO2 emissions are down by 20g/km to 110g/km. Sprinting from 0-62mph takes 10 seconds – faster than 1.6-litre rivals such as the VW Passat (10.8 seconds) and Ford Mondeo (12.3 seconds).
Another bonus is that the old six-speed automatic gearbox has been ditched for a modern dual-clutch version with seven speeds, which provides smooth shifts and doesn’t harm fuel economy.
The suspension is still comfortable, soaking up the worst bumps in the road even when the car is fitted with larger 18-inch alloy wheels.
Kia has also revised the car’s steering rack – it’s now more direct, making it easier to drive the through a quick series of corners. While the improvements to driver enjoyment are definitely noticeable, the Ford Mondeo or Mazda 6 are still better choices if you’re looking for a dynamic family car.
Where the Kia feels most at home is on the motorway, where extensive sound deadening means it’s quiet and relaxed, although the larger wheels do amplify road noise.