Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi

3

Kia Optima, front, action
Kia Optima, side, action
Kia Optima, rear, action
Kia Optima, interior
Kia Optima, rear seats
Kia Optima, boot

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.

FAST FACTS

Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi 3

Price: £23,495

Mechanical: 139bhp, 1,685cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 121mph

0-62mph: 9.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 67.3

Insurance Group: 20

C02 emissions: 110g/km

Bik rating: 24%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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