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There is a newer version of this car Read the latest Kia Optima (16-19) review here

Kia Optima Saloon review

2012 - 2015 (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

At a glance

Price new £19,595 - £27,170
Used prices £1,689 - £7,113
Road tax cost £160 - £255
Insurance group 16 - 20
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Fuel economy Not tested to latest standards
Range 724 - 878 miles
View full specs for a specific version

Available fuel types


Pros & cons

  • Stylish
  • Frugal
  • Good grip
  • Long warranty
  • Strong projected residuals
  • Overly firm ride
  • Poor steering feeling
  • A few cheap-looking interior plastics

Written by Parkers Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019


Kia has bitten the bullet by choosing to throw its hat in the four-door family saloon ring, a crowded market if ever there was one. The Korean brand has modest sales expectations though: it says it’ll be happy if it sells 1,600 Optimas a year. If it does, it won’t be discounting unlike Ford and Vauxhall – the giants of this particular category. At first glance, you might reason that Kia is being unnecessarily coy about its ability to shift this car in bigger numbers since it cuts an impressive dash, both when it’s parked up and on the road. Even on our initial test drive, heads were regularly turned. It’s only when you look a little further into the Optima’s credentials that you realise that the targets set for this attractive four-door are sensible, as well as realistic. Traditionally, Kia is seen as a value brand. While you might consider that applicable for the Optima, compare its prices and specifications like-for-like with the Vauxhall Insignia, Mazda6, Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb models and it’s fair to say it is in the mix, but not quite the bargain territory you’d expect. Kia isn’t likely to discount it either, so in the dealership your haggling skills will remain largely redundant. That’s not the point however: about 80% of Optimas sold in the UK will go to fleets as it is available with just one engine – a frugal 1.7-litre diesel engine. Thus, the aim is clear. This is a car aimed at company car drivers sick of Ford and Vauxhalls. It’s not unreasonable to expect that they might choose to defect to the Optima because, well… it looks nice. Simple tactic, but will it be effective? Read on to find out.