Kia Optima: 'letterbox' boot denies bike-load

  • Cavernous 505-litre boot will easily swallow up golf clubs
  • 'Letterbox'-shaped hole not big enough for racing bike
  • Still a great performer: Parkers team impressed with Kia

The Kia Optima has been a welcome addition to the Parkers fleet. Each week, when one of my colleagues borrows it, there's praise - usually about the comfortable ride, hearty engine or the cavernous boot.

It seemed the Optima possessed no Achilles heel. Yes, there is a bit of turbo-lag, but that’s not overly problematic, and the absence of a DAB radio in the infotainment system is just an equipment oversight.

Then we came across a weakness when Parkers News and Features Editor Chris Ebbs borrowed it for a weekend and stumbled upon a rather irritating foible.

Often, he rides a bike… for fun. On occasion he needs to transport this bike to go wherever he goes and that requires a sizeable boot. His current long-term test car, the Peugeot 508 SW, does that very well but this last weekend he took the Optima with the intention of transporting his bike in it and he came across a curious idiosyncrasy that threatened to scupper his plans.

The Optima’s boot is sizeable, that’s for sure. It offers 505 litres of storage space, an impressive amount, and only falls a few litres short of its main rival the Ford Mondeo which has 528 litres of boot space. Practically speaking, the Optima performs well in this area because I can, literally, throw my golf bag in there and I don’t have to huff and puff to get it to fit in.

It’s an easy task where, on other cars with smaller boots and narrower openings, it can be a bit of a faff. Thing is, Chris’s bike is longer (obviously) than my clubs, which means you need to fold down the rear seats to get it in.

The fold-down mechanism isn’t a problem: you simply pull on two conveniently placed toggles at the rear of the boot space and the seats fold down easily. Trouble is, you don’t get the full width of the car when the seats are folded down because the letterbox-shaped hole behind the seat-backs restricts the loading area.

That meant Chris had to do a bit of head-scratching before he managed to get the bike in. After removing the front wheel and loosening the handlebars, he was able to shove it in.

Parkers Editor Kieren Puffett had a similar problem when he tried to get his racing bike in, but the the outcome was not so happy. His fancier machine has tri-bars for extra aerodynamic efficiency and this addition denied access even when he took the front wheel off. The load area simply couldn’t accommodate the bike he had.

Show-off.

The Optima’s rear-seat set-up is an odd arrangement. Why not have a system where you just fold down the rear seats and get the whole space, rather than this letterbox shape to negotiate?

One suspects it’s there to retain the rigidity of the car, but there are family saloons which have a design where you can fold the rear seats down and get the whole width of the car without the need for a ‘letterbox’. Cars like the Peugeot 508 have a more sizeable aperture for easier loading.

It's not a major saga for me, however. I can carry golf clubs easily and I have even loaded a drum kit in there without any problems.

Good job I'm not a cyclist. It sounds way too much like hard work anyway. 

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Current mileage: 5,565 miles

Average mpg: 47.2mpg