ONCE upon a time Swedish car maker Saab plugged a quirky kind of gap in the saloon car market if you wanted something that was just a little bit different to mainstream offerings.
Sadly Saab is no more and the automotive marketplace is all the poorer for that but I can't help but feel that in many ways the Kia Optima is a kind of spiritual successor to those inimitable Saab saloons.
Cars like the Saab 9-3 and 9-5 were decidedly different and offered a real contrast to the likes of the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and Vauxhall Insignia.
Saab even pushed towards premium territory as a rival to Audi, and BMW, though in reality it was more of an outsider at the upper end of the market.
Kia's Optima is a saloon that looks different and comes exceptionally well equipped - giving it a premium kind of feel at a very affordable price.
In many ways it sums up Kia's remarkable journey over the past two decades.
Originally launched in 2011 an all-new version of the Optima arrived towards the end of 2015 but design-wise it stuck fairly closely to Peter Schreyer's 2011 eye-catching design blueprint.
It really is a sleek and classy looking car and the interior is nicely done out too and characterised by a spacious cabin that means it scores highly for family-friendliness.
It can transport five adults in considerable comfort and has 505-litre boot.
It also features an impressively sculpted dashboard with quality instrumentation and switchgear
The model range is fairly straightforward and engine-wise there's just a choice between a 1.7-litre diesel or a PHEV plug-in hybrid launched late last year. The range has also been expanded with an estate Stationwagon version, though it is only available as a diesel at present.
There are 2, 3 and GT Line S trim levels - replacing the former 1-4 classifications.
The 1 has been dropped and the 4 has become the GT Line S.
All come exceptionally well equipped.
Even the entry-level Optima 2 has 17-inch alloys, a 7-inch touchscreen system with satnav, dual zone climate control, cruise control and limiter, folding heated door mirrors and a reversing camera.
Move up to the 3 (this model) and you get 18-inch alloys, Lane Keep Assist, an 8-inch sat-nav screen, and eight-way power adjustable driver's seat and a 10-speaker, 590-watt Harman Kardon sound system.
The range-topping GT Line S adds many more luxury and high-tech features including a panoramic sunroof with electric blinds, a smart key with a stop/start button, a wireless phone charger and plenty more besides.
The two comes as a manual, the 3 is available either as a manual or automatic, while the GT Line S and PHEV models are automatic.
As a driver's car the Optima is decent enough, if unremarkable, though it delivers a noticeably comfortable ride.
It cruises nicely on the motorway and the diesel engine is smooth and refined.