Kia Optima (16-) preview

  • Very well appointed, with lower running costs
  • Cleaner engines, seven-year warranty
  • Saloon bodystyle not popular in this market though

On sale from January 5, 2016, the latest version of the Kia Optima Saloon is a big improvement on the previous model – a car that didn’t find many buyers in the UK. It’s a natural rival to the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Volkswagen Passat – all top-sellers in our market – so this new model is going to have to be good.

In the past it was simply the wrong bodystyle for a lot of private buyers, who traditionally bought hatchbacks at that price point. There was also no estate on offer, and the sole engine option wasn’t efficient enough to appeal to company car drivers who traditionally went for this size of saloon.

So with all that in mind, Kia has had a rethink. Designed in Europe, this version addresses many of those points. There’s now an estate (called the Optima Sportswagon) on the way, while a performance GT version and a plug-in hybrid are in the pipeline to broaden its appeal further than ever before.

More power, lower running costs

Again there’s just one engine, but it’s far more efficient than the previous Optima’s. It’s still a 1.7, but thanks to extensive modification its output has risen by 5bhp and 15Nm, so peak power is 139bhp and torque climbs to 340Nm available at 1,750rpm. That means 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds and a top speed of 121mph.

But the truly surprising thing here is the improvement in running costs. Fuel economy is now 67.3mpg on the combined fuel economy cycle, while CO2 emissions of 110g/km finally make the Optima a realistic proposition for company car drivers.

If you want an automatic gearbox, the firm has that option covered too. A new seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox promises super-slick shifts but doesn’t harm emissions and fuel economy anywhere near as badly as the old six-speed auto box did. Fuel economy of 64.2mpg and CO2 output of 116g/km are the official figures, so apart from the £1,400 premium for the auto, you’re not paying too much of a penalty. Performance figures are 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds and a top speed of 126mph.

Three trim levels available

There are three spec levels on offer, badged 2, 3 and 4. We’re not sure what happened to 1.

The 2 trim is only available with the manual gearbox, while the 4 is only on offer with the automatic.

Even 2 cars come with a lot of kit, though. Standard specification includes:

• Seven-inch touchscreen sat-nav system

• Reversing camera

• Air-con

• Cruise control

• DAB radio

Moving up the trim levels means unlocking more toys such as a 360-degree birdseye view camera, cornering headlights, a premium sound system, leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof and adaptive cruise control.

Each car gets a lot of safety equipment too, including tyre pressure monitoring, hill-start assist, and electric parking brake and electronic stability control.

Long warranty, fixed-price servicing

Of course, all Optimas come with Kia’s seven-year transferrable warranty. The firm will even top it back up to seven years if you buy a used car less than 18 months old from an official Kia dealer.

The firm’s Care-3 fixed-price servicing packages are available too, adding a little more clarity to your monthly budgeting.

To find out exactly how this new saloon drives, keep an eye out for the full Kia Optima Saloon review coming in April on Parkers.