Kia has introduced the latest Optima large family saloon at the New York Motor Show. The Korean brand’s answer to the likes of the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia is as stylish as it is great value, and the 2015 changes aim to build on those strengths while improving details under the skin.
So what’s new exactly? We’ve compared the two models side-by-side to find out.
Although the car is all new underneath – it’s grown slightly in every external dimension – the styling remains very familiar. Kia says buyers are fans of the outgoing car’s looks, so maintaining that identity was important. That means the front features a similar “tiger nose” grille, which sits above a sharper bumper design. The headlights are more shapely than before, and high-spec models gain HID beams which turn into bends based on the angle of the steering wheel.
In profile, the car is quite similar to before, with a chrome strip running along the top of the window line from front to rear. The overall shape is claimed to be more aerodynamic, which should improve both economy, refinement and performance just a little. A large area of sheet metal remains behind the rear passenger window, which suggests the blind spot will still be quite large – it’s worth considering the optional reversing camera.
The rear is where the biggest changes have taken place. Where the departing Optima was rather flat and just a little bland, the new model is much more contemporary. Longer, slimmer tail lights and a more pronounced boot lid design are complimented by a diffuser set into the bumper. It looks quite like a Lexus IS to us, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The interior has been given an overhaul too. The old model looked pleasant enough, but it could be argued that it was just a little too fussy. The new model addresses this with a much cleaner layout, with far fewer buttons and a much neater heating/ventilation controls. Kia says the quantity of soft touch plastics has increased for a more up-market ambience.
The previous model was criticised from some corners for lacking a little space inside. Although it hasn’t provided exact interior dimensions, the wheelbase has stretched by 25mm, and Kia promises the new Optima is more accommodating than ever as a result. Kia has stuffed extra insulation material behind the new dash, which makes things quieter out on the road. The seat frames have been stiffened to reduce vibration and therefore improve long distance comfort.
Driving and engines
In fact, Kia has worked hard to make sure the whole body is stiffer overall. Through the increased use of high-strength steels and carbon fibre-reinforced plastic, it isn’t just stronger than before, but lighter too. This provides a great platform on which to improve both the ride and the handling. This is further helped by relocating the suspension mounting points, a move which Kia says “optimises suspension geometry” – that’s “make it more comfy” in other words.
The UK is likely to feature the same single engine option as it does now. The current 136hp 1.7-litre diesel unit is likely to subjected to a few tweaks to eke out a little extra performance and efficiency – both of which will be helped by the lighter chassis, too.
Kia has yet to reveal the exact prices and equipment levels for UK examples of the Optima. However, expect prices to be competitive: the current Optima is priced from £19,995 – nearly £1,000 less than the cheapest diesel Mondeo, which isn’t as well-equipped and 21hp down on power.
The Optima-l family car?
While you’re waiting for the new model to be released, take a look at our review of the current model to see where it needs to improve in order to compete with the Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and Mazda 6. Don’t forget to take a look at our car deals page to see our latest discounts and check out our car configurator to see how much you could save on the outgoing Optima.