Since late 2011, Kia’s mid-size Optima saloon has been transforming the company’s market share in the European D-segment – inspiring and challenging many consumers to consider a bold and dynamically-styled Kia for the first time.
“With the upgraded Kia Optima, our global design team has penned a vehicle with even more distinctive styling that stands apart from everything else in the D-segment,” commented Benny Oeyen, Vice President Marketing and Product Planning, Kia Motors Europe.
“The original Optima was well-received when it was launched in 2011 and we are confident that the upgraded model, with its range of high-tech features usually associated with premium brand vehicles, will greatly boost our presence in this sector of the European marketplace” added Oeyen.
Created under the direction of Kia’s Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer, the upgraded Optima features new headlights, fog lamps, rear lights, bumpers and wheels. At the front, the LED daytime running lights are moved from the bumper into the headlight – consistent with other Kia models – and the fog lamps are set into a body-colour panel rather than the transverse black panel of the original design.
New four-point LED fog lamps generate a truly distinctive appearance and echo the dramatic appearance of the lamps fitted to the new Kia pro_cee’d GT. The upgraded Optima range receives new 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheel designs and a new sharper-edged boot lid. At the rear, the new larger rear light clusters are available with surface-emitting LEDs and the twin red reflectors are now raised and set on a horizontal plane.
For customers keen to boost the visual impact of their vehicle a ‘Sport Pack’ will be available on certain trim levels and comes with a black-mesh front grille, chrome trim around the lower air-intake, unique 18-inch, five double-spoke alloy wheels and a matt-black diffuser beneath the rear bumper.
The new Optima’s smooth contours enhance its aerodynamic efficiency and result in a drag figure of just Cd 0.29, minimising wind noise, while boosting performance and fuel economy. The new Kia Optima will be available in a choice of up to 10 colours, including seven metallic and two pearl finishes.
The driver-oriented interior design of the 2011 Optima is retained, with detailed changes to the instrument cluster, steering wheel, centre console, gear selector, door armrests and the seats – refreshing the cabin’s appearance and adding an extra touch of luxury.
Depending on market and specification level, the cabin will be available with either a black monotone finish or beige two-tone finish. Seat upholstery is flat-woven on entry-level models or a combination of flat-woven with part leather on mid-spec models. A full leather interior is also available on high-specification models.
The new instrument cluster features a larger TFT LCD screen (4.3-inch, up from 3.5-inch), delivering more information with improved graphics. The new steering wheel, which has a flattened lower rim on auto models, has the remote controls located on the horizontal spokes.
The new centre console houses a 7-inch information screen and is finished in black high-gloss, while the switch panels in the armrests come with satin metal or black high-gloss accents, depending on model. Interior door handles are now finished in satin metal, rather than chrome.
Front seats feature cushions with raised side bolsters and a higher leading edge, increasing lateral and under-thigh support for enhanced comfort. Ventilated front seats and heated rear seats – with both low and high temperature settings – are available.
Driver and passengers will appreciate the higher levels of refinement in the upgraded Optima – one of the key areas for improvement targeted by Kia engineers. Measures adopted to reduce road noise in the new model include fitting a dynamic damper to the rear suspension cross member, changing the rear wheelarch covers to a BCF (bulked continuous filament) material for improved sound-proofing and fitting stronger alloy wheels. Combined, these measures have reduced road noise by 3.3 decibels.
Further noise reducing modifications include the use of additional sealants in the dashboard bulkhead and thicker carpets in the cabin of diesel models.
Introducing new features and technologies
The already generous standard equipment of the original 2011 model is boosted with additional premium features for the upgraded Optima. Drivers of automatic models can use Drive-Mode-Select to choose between three driving modes: the default Normal mode; Active ECO mode, which enhances fuel economy; and Sport mode, which delivers more immediate engine response and increases the weight of the steering.
Both the audio and navigation systems for the Optima have been improved. The new audio systems now allow customers to connect an iPod to the car via Apple’s regular USB cable whilst the new navigation system features a 7-inch screen.
Kia’s Blind Spot Detection system will be fitted to certain versions. As well as alerting the driver to cars approaching closely – by triggering a warning light in the door mirror – the BSD system incorporates Lane Change Assist (LCA) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).
LCA monitors following traffic and alerts the driver if changing lane might be hazardous. Designed to improve safety in car parks, RCTA is activated when reverse gear is selected and monitors the zone at 90 degrees to the car, on both sides, sounding a warning if approaching vehicles are detected. Both front and rear parking sensors are available.
Best-in-class performance and low emissions
The upgraded Optima is available to European consumers with a choice of two engines carried over from the previous model – a 2.0-litre 165 ps petrol engine and a 1.7-litre 136 ps diesel. The latter is expected to account for the majority of sales in Europe and will be the sole engine option when the vehicle goes on sale in the UK.
Fitted with a Variable Geometry Turbocharger (VGT) the 1.7-litre version of Kia’s popular ‘U2’ CRDi diesel engine produces 136 ps and 325 Nm of torque (from 2,000 rpm) for excellent driveability, and delivers best-in-class performance for an engine of its displacement (80 ps per litre).
A number of measures designed to enhance engine efficiency have been adopted for Optima, including an overrunning alternator decoupler and an innovative battery management system. The result is competitive CO2 emissions for its class – from 133 g/km for the standard model, and as low as 128 g/km when fitted with Kia’s optional fuel-saving stop/start ISG system. The Optima is among the lower vehicle tax bands in many European countries.
The 2.0-litre petrol powerplant is a ‘Nu’ lightweight engine which generates 165 ps and 196 Nm of torque at 4,800 rpm, while fuel economy is competitive, from 7.0 l / 100 km. To increase the unit’s fuel efficiency, Kia’s engineers specified a two-stage variable induction system, an electronic throttle body, an off-set crankshaft and Continuously Variable Valve Lift (CVVL).
In Europe both engines are offered with a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions, providing greater refinement and efficiency while cruising at higher speeds.
Generous standard specification continues
True to the company’s philosophy of producing cars that present excellent value for money, the upgraded Optima carries over the generous levels of standard specification found on the 2011 model, while also offering buyers a number of premium features. Final specification choices will be decided by individual markets nearer local launch dates.
Depending on model, available features include: PPAS (Parallel Parking Assist System), smart key and start button with automatic folding mirrors; retractable panoramic sunroof; heated rear seats; heated steering wheel; BAS (Brake Assist System); ESC (Electronic Stability Control); HAC (Hill-start Assist Control); and VSM (Vehicle Stability Management).
As with all Kia models sold in Europe, the upgraded Optima provides customers with the manufacturer’s unique seven year / 100,000 mile warranty which is fully transferrable to subsequent owners. Global demand for the Optima is supplied from Kia’s Hwa-Sung factory in Korea, while cars for the Chinese market are manufactured in China.