Kia Optima: Four-door is a strong choice

  • Excellent motorway cruiser, with sizeable boot
  • Good value and affordable company car proposition
  • Few minor gripes, but great package overall

It is with some sadness that I have had to say goodbye to the Kia Optima – one of the best mile-crunchers in the business.

It’s been a fairly eventful six months. I’ve taken it to Northern Ireland for Parkers Road Test Editor Simon McBride’s wedding and it’s also been up to Anglesey race circuit with Parkers’ News Reporter Gareth Evans, and on both occasions it’s proved a comfortable, no-nonsense cruiser that won’t gorge on fuel.

I have used it and abused it somewhat. Most of the time my golf clubs have been stored in the sizeable boot and it’s been used as a load-lugger for a couple of house-moves. It’s been versatile, reliable and frugal.

It’s covered a fair few miles over the six-month test – 14,405 to be precise – the majority were completed on my daily commute from Watford to Peterborough and back and that is where it has shown its ace cards.

As a company car it’s pretty imperious. This particular version is the Optima 2 Tech with the six-speed manual. Kit includes an Infinity stereo, a sat nav, USB port, iPod connector and aux-in connectivity. It runs on 17-inch alloys, which is ideal because the larger rims do firm the ride up a bit. In this particular guise it is exactly the right choice for the company car driver. With a Benefit-in-Kind rating of 19%, it’ll cost you £69 a month if you are a 20% tax payer and a £137 if you are on a 40% tax rate.

With a 134bhp engine under the bonnet CO2 emissions are just 128g/km and official average fuel economy is 57mpg. I averaged 44mpg over the six-month test, but I really put the car through its paces. There were occasions when the average fuel economy on the computer readout hit 50mpg.

It’s relatively cheap to buy when you consider the kit you get. The on-the-road price is £21,695 but Kia dealers don’t mind a bit of a haggle so we don’t think it would be unreasonable if you got a £1,000 discount. If you go to an online broker expect sizeable savings. We found a similar car for £18,853 – a £2,842 discount - from discounted-new-cars.com. This and other online websites can be found simply by going to our Cars for Sale section and clicking on the manufacturer/model that you want on the drop-down menu. It’s that easy to save yourself a shedload of cash.

So the Kia has been great on the motorway: it’s quiet, unflustered and you’ll get decent fuel economy. It handles well too but it’s still not quite up to Ford Mondeo, the new Mazda6, BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 standards. It’s better than a Honda Accord, on par with a Vauxhall Insignia and about the same as a Hyundai i40 saloon.

In terms of what’s not to like, the list is very short. The turbo-lag on acceleration can get annoying, particularly when you want to make a sharp getaway – Kia needs to sort this out if it really wants to take on the big boys – and the four digit postcode entry isn’t really good enough. In this day and age manufacturers need to include seven digits to please the more discerning company car driver.

It’s reasonably nice inside but the half-leather trim is a little hard yet robust and hardwearing. Apart from those few minor gripes, the Optima is a pretty impressive package.

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

Total mileage: 17,503 miles

Average mpg: 44mpg