What is it?
Shame about the bland name, shared with a now-obsolete clothes-washing liquid from Waitrose, because the Kia Optima deserves better. In Korea, where it was launched two years ago, it’s called K5, but the international branding feet went cold.
Anyway, this Mondeo-sized four-door – the wagon version, unwanted by the biggest markets of Korea and the US, won’t arrive till facelift time, if at all – is a handsome, striking machine with a fierce nose, deep flanks and a wedgy stance.
For the UK it comes with just one engine option, with both the petrol engine and two flavours of hybrid being denied to us. We get the 1.7-litre, 134bhp turbodiesel as used in the Hyundai i40, a car not as similar to the Optima under the skin as you might have expected. The Kia is longer, its greater wheelbase adding rear legroom; a closer relative is the US’s Hyundai i45.
This engine comes with a choice of six-speed gearboxes, a regular manual or a torque-converter auto with steering-wheel paddles for manual intervention.
What’s it like?
Asking a relatively small engine to pull nearly a tonne and a half of Optima with vigour could lead to disappointment, but it rises to the task with refinement and potentially excellent efficiency – just 128g/km CO2 for the manual with the standard EcoDynamics package, essentially a stop-start system.