A SLEEK and stylish estate car is about to propel Kia to the front of the catwalk in any automotive beauty parade.
The new Optima Sportswagon - based on the latest Optima saloon which was released last year - is both lithesome and practical and sure to turn plenty of heads.
Although built in Kia's Korean homeland the new estate has been designed especially for Europe where Kia plans to cash in on the growing market for cars that do more than just get from A to B.
Luggage capacity ranges from a useful 552 to 1,686 litres which puts the Kia estate on par with the likes of the Volvo V60 yet the Sportswagon is no longer than the Optima saloon, and that's clever packaging.
It's also very roomy inside - especially in the back where there is excellent legroom - and the rear seats are quick release exposing a long, flat loadbed.
Underfloor compartments add to the practical approach and cargo rails plus a power operated tailgate are standard on higher grade versions.
The luggage blind can be stowed under the boot floor and roof rails are fitted across the range.
Like the Optima saloon the estate is diesel only and powered by a tried and tested 1.7-litre engine which develops 139bhp giving the Sportswagon a respectable 0 to 60 time of 9.8 seconds for manual models and 10.7 seconds for those fitted with Kia's new semi-automatic DCT gearbox.
There are three models in the line up with prices ranging from £22,295 to £30,595 which buys a Sportswagon with the DCT gearbox and snazzy GT-Line S trim which includes extra body styling, leather seats and LED headlamps among its standard features.
All models come with sat nav and a reversing camera which on the top specification cars include a 360 degree display, automatic parking, adaptive cruise control plus autonomous emergency braking and a rear cross traffic alert.
An electronic parking brake is fitted to all and in terms of connectivity it's up with the best featuring Android Auto with Apple CarPlay coming on stream later this year.
USB sockets are fitted front and rear plus a DC power outlet in the cargo area, the top two trim levels include an upgraded Harman Kardon hi-fi system and the GT-Line S is fitted with a wireless phone charger.
On the road, Kia claims the manual Sportswagon is good for 64.2mpg with emissions of 113g/km and the DCT is not that far behind, rated at 61.4mpg and a CO2 figure of 120g/km.
In the real world those figures proved on the optimistic side and we saw an average of 38 to the gallon for both transmissions and of the two the DCT felt the sharper, helped by rapid-fire paddle shifters which allow for swift movement through the gears.
Both transmissions come with multi-mode drive settings which can be varied from the standard set up to Sport or Eco - and in Sport the Sportswagon is commendably lively.
It rides impressively too and even at the limits - as we found driving the Optima Sportswagon at Kia's Namyang test track in Korea - it is very sure and predictable.
It's a car which won't catch you out - even in critical situations - and feels nicely composed and, for the money, well refined. Keen competition indeed for the likes of Volvo and Volkswagen.
Pound of pound - and factor in Kia's seven year warranty - the Optima Sportswagon is a high value family all-rounder which combines style and practicality in handsome fashion.