The Kia Optima Sportswagon PHEV is spacious, practical and a good company car choice. However, alternatives have better interiors and are more enjoyable to drive
The Kia Optima Sportwagon PHEV has been around since 2016, but saw an update in 2018 that added extra standard kit and some changes to the interior such as a new steering wheel.
The Optima Sportwagon PHEV’s closest alternative is the VW Passat Estate GTE, but it’s also worth looking at similarly-priced plug-in hybrid SUVs such as the Kia Niro or Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV or even the slightly more expensive Mercedes C300e Estate.
From the driver’s seat, very little tells you this version is any different to the regular, cheaper, Optima, aside from the tachometer which has been replaced with a dial showing you how efficiently you’re driving. The rest of the cabin is a rather sombre affair – the silver accents dotted here and there aren’t enough to give you a premium feel.
All Optima Sportwagon PHEVs come with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav. It’s an alright system with ease of use it’s best feature, but, in our experience, the sat-nav routing can sometimes be a little iffy. On the upside, you can connect your smartphone and use its sat-nav app via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Also standard is an 8-speaker harman/kardon premium sounds system which sounds great.
What’s certain is that you won’t be short for space sitting in the front, while the broad range of seat adjustments for the driver means finding a good position is quick and easy. Moving to the back seats, two six-footers will have no issues whatsoever on a long journey and three will fit, albeit with limited shoulder room. It’s massive back there for kids, though, isofix is standard on the outside rear seats, while the wide-opening doors give easy access for baby seats.
The Optima Sportswagon PHEV has a spacious boot that’s easily big enough for a family’s needs. There is a slight reduction in outright space if you go for the PHEV version of the Optima Sportswagon but it’s only 15 litres or a backpack’s worth of luggage. Another drawback of the PHEV batteries under the boot foor is the loss of the load area rails that let you secure heavy loads with ease, but on the upside the area is still vast and square in shape so is still extremely practical.
The Kia Optima Sportswagon PHEV is a fine choice as a cheap-to-run company car, but it’s hard to ignore its snoozefest driving experience
The Kia Optima Sportswagon PHEV is fitted with a 2.0-litre petrol engine that, with the help of an electric motor, makes 202hp. That’s sounds like a good amount of power but the Optima Sportswagon PHEV weighs more than 2 tonnes, so performance isn’t particularly brisk.
Kia reckons you’ll manage around 30 miles on battery power alone, but in order to keep up with traffic you’ll end up using the car’s petrol engine a lot. Still, the Optima Sportswagon PHEV can achieve similar combined fuel economy as an equivalent diesel in the real world, but is cheaper to run as a company car in terms of company car tax.
Like all plug-in hyrbids, to achieve the Optima PHEV’s best mpg you’ll need to frequently run it on electricity. Having good access to charging either at home or at work (or both) is the best way towards using the petrol engine as sparingly as possible.
The heft of the Kia Optima Sportswagon dictates the way it drives. There’s more body roll and less grip than in a VW Passat Estate GTE, but that only happens when driven vigorously. Around town, the suspension soaks up potholes nicely but outward visibility is a tad compromised through the back window. On the motorway, there’s very little wind noise and the engine can be barely heard, making the Kia Optima Sportswagon PHEV a great long-distance car.
There’s only one model to choose from and it comes well equipped with the aforementioned infotainment system, premium sound system, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and a wireless phone charging mat. The Kia Optima saloon got the maximum five stars for safety from Euro NCAP so the Optima Sportswagon should be equally safe. That said, these tests were carried out in 2015 and the test is slightly more stringent today.
So, if you’re looking for a cheap-to-run family estate car for work use, the Kia Optima Sportswagon PHEV is a good choice. However, bare in mind it’s price tag also puts it in the same bracket as hybrid SUVs such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV that are even more practical.