Kia Optima: A rival to the Ford Mondeo?

  • On paper the Mondeo wins
  • Kia is faster with better ride quality
  • Heart says Kia, stats say Ford

For several years now the Ford Mondeo has been your archetypal company car. In fact, in the mid-Nineties Tony Blair once famously proclaimed he wanted to “appeal to Mondeo Man” in a speech referring to the sort of ‘aspirational middle-class voters’ that he wanted to attract to his campaign, cementing the Mondeo in its place as a stalwart fleet favourite.

Since then it has remained close to the top of the UK’s sales figures thanks to its range of efficient engines and comfortable, cleverly designed cabins. That could be about to change though, thanks to a new raft of products coming from Korea. The Kia Optima is leading the charge – aiming squarely at the Mondeo and trying its best to beat it at its own game.

We’re a big fan of our Optima. Its trump card is how comfortable it is – the supportive and cossetting seats married to a smooth and uneventful ride provide requisite comfort for serious motorway mileage. The thing is, the Mondeo we’ve picked is exactly the same. So much so, in fact, that it’s difficult to pick between the two cars when it comes to sheer mile-munching comfort.

Handling-wise, you’d pick the Ford straight away. It offers more steering response, more grip and leans less through corners.

The Mondeo takes 11.9 seconds to hit 62mph, with a top speed of 118mph. The Kia is far quicker, taking 10.2 seconds to hit 60mph and boasting a top speed of 125mph.

Let’s look at the costs, then. Our Kia, as we’ve worked out before, costs company car drivers £137 per month on the 40% pay scale. This represents great value considering how much equipment is included. The Mondeo Business Edition, in standard spec, costs £116. With the optional Driver Assistance Pack, Summer Pack and Metallic paint, the cost per month goes up to £126.

With that in mind, the Kia falls well short of the Ford when it comes to equipment. The Driver Assistance Pack and Summer Pack both add features the Optima doesn’t have – blind spot and lane departure warning and the sunroof are notable features – so in terms of company car tax the Mondeo is the car to have.

In terms of range, the Kia has a claimed combined fuel economy of 57.6mpg. That means its theoretical range is 889 miles. The Mondeo, with its claimed fuel economy of 65.7mpg, will do 1,012 miles. Another notch for Ford, then.

The Mondeo clinches things in the luggage space department too. It has a boot volume of 528 litres, just pipping the Kia’s 505 litres.

Aesthetically, everyone in the Parkers office agrees the Optima certainly looks the part. It’s a much fresher design both inside and out, making the Mondeo (which was launched back in 2007) look rather dated. In terms of the materials used, Kia has come on huge amounts in recent years but isn’t quite up to the standard enjoyed by the Ford.

So to conclude, on paper the Ford Mondeo Business Edition certainly has the edge against our Kia Optima. The way a car looks does have a great deal to do with a buying decision, however, and in the office we’ve decided that on balance we’d go for the Optima. It’s difficult to explain exactly why, but for us it’s just the better, more up-to-date package. Oh, and it’s faster.

What do you think of the Kia Optima? Get your opinions published in our Owners' Reviews section here

The Mondeo's boot.

The Optima's boot.

The Mondeo's dashboard.

The Optima's dashboad.

Current mileage: 10,358 miles

Average mpg: 46.3mpg