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Kia Optima road test

by Mark Walker

24th April, 2013

Home > Road Tests > Kia

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The Kia Optima sets itself apart thanks to brilliant styling including stunning looks plus excellent functionality and comfort. It manages to make the competitors seem conventional, some may say boring.

Kia launched the medium sized Optima sedan in Australia in 2011. It replaced the Magentis model.

Test Car particulars

The vehicle driven is the Kia Optima Platinum sedan finished in Abyss Blue. (copyright image)

Variants and Prices*

Kia Australia sell the Optima in three trim levels, all with the same four-cylinder petrol engine and 6-speed automatic transmission.

The three trim variants are: Si, SLi and Platinum.

Value conscious buyers may be tempted by any of the Optima variants given the sharp pricing and high levels of equipment throughout the range. The entry level Si is priced from $30,490*. The mid-spec SLi includes satellite navigation, larger 18” alloy wheels, larger brakes, LED daytime running lights, LED rear fog lights, power driver’s seat along with some other cosmetic upgrades. The SLi is priced from $34,990*.

The range topping Platinum is priced from $38,790*. The test car has metallic paint ($595*) which brings the total price to $39,385* plus on-road costs fo our test car.

The pricing is very competitive thanks to the abundance of value across the Optima range. Kia has packaged each variant very well to beat competitor pricing at the same time as including additional equipment.

Driving the Kia Optima Platinum

Only one engine is available across the Optima range. The 2.4 litre, in-line, direct injection, four-cylinder engine offers credible performance with a power output of 148 kW and torque of 250Nm.

Acceleration is more than acceptable and is quite smooth thanks to the 6-speed automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive. No manual option is available, however semi-automatic mode is available via paddle shifters and the gear stick. (copyright image) (copyright image) (copyright image)

In less than a week, we covered more than 1,500 kms in the Optima which meant a considerable time behind the wheel. It certainly didn't feel like a chore thanks to the excellent road manners on the freeway and interior comfort. Noise levels could be improved for additional refinement, however at this price point it is average.

The Platinum is fitted with large 18” alloy wheels and the ride is a tad firm. Bumps will be felt and this combined with the low ground clearance means you must take care over speed humps and driveways.

Living with the Kia Optima Platinum

Kia have loaded the Optima Platinum with an exceptionally high level of standard equipment for maximum comfort and convenience.

Although it’s considered a medium sized sedan, there is enough space to seat five people in comfort including good rear leg room.

Black is the only trim colour available in the Platinum and whilst the cabin is mostly plastics, it looks and feels well made and is difficult to fault.

Leather trim is standard in the Platinum and both front seats are power operated and heated. The driver's seat has a two position memory function, moves automatically for better access, and perhaps best of all, its ventilated.

Ventilated seats are normally only found in expensive luxury vehicles however Kia has been introducing them to its more premium offerings recently. The ventilation is provided by fans in the base and the lower back section of the seat. There are two power settings and the system does an excellent job of cooling.

Satellite navigation with touch screen is standard, as is a twin-glass sunroof, Bluetooth audio and telephone connection, leather steering wheel, reversing camera, reverse sensors, electric park brake, electric folding mirrors, smart key, push button start & stop and dual-zone climate control.

The infotainment system incorporating the sat nav, media and reverse camera is easy to use thanks to its logical lay out and responsive touch screen. The radio impressed the team with its excellent range and clear reception. For night driving, the screen can be turned off easily for reduced light in the cabin without turning the entire system off. For additional ease of use, the centre console is also angled slightly toward the driver.

Forward parking sensors are not included but can be ordered as a dealer fitted accessory. Unfortunately, Kia decided not to paint the reversing sensors body colour – they are black. This might not stand out on another vehicle, but the styling detail on the Optima is so attentive and impressive in every other area.

Storage is generous with a 505 litre boot that can swallow a good amount of cargo. There are eight cup holders, a good sized storage bin in the centre console and the glove box is a reasonable size.


The Optima has been awarded a five star safety rating by ANCAP. Occupants are protected by six airbags. Active safety features include anti-lock braking with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, stability control and hill start assist.

Other features include automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, daytime LED running lights plus front and rear fog lights. (copyright image) (copyright image)

Fuel and emissions

The Optima runs on regular unleaded fuel and is E10 compatible. Fuel tank capacity is 70 litres.

The Euro IV compliant engine has a fuel consumption rating of 7.9 litres per 100km and emissions of 189 g/km on the combined cycle. We covered more than 1,500km during our test, mostly at freeway speed, and our fuel usage was 8.5 litres per 100km over the first 1,200km. We used the ECO mode for the vast majority of our test.

On long drives at highway or freeway speed, the Optima will give a real range of over 800km if driven smoothly.


Length: 4,845 mm
Width: 1,830 mm
Height: 1,455 mm
Wheelbase: 2,795 mm
Kerb Weight: 1,551 kg
Boot capacity: 505 litres

After Sales

The Kia warranty is one of best available, covering the Optima for up to five years with no restriction on distance travelled. Roadside assistance is provided for one year.

Service intervals are 1 year or 15,000 km. Fixed price servicing is also available for up to 5 services or 75,000km. The current cost is $1,887 over the five services meaning an average cost per service/per year of $377.40 which is competitive for a mid-sized sedan.


The Optima Platinum leads the way with styling and drives home the point with superb value, superior after sales support and a massive list of features that should embarrass some competitors. We tried hard to fault this car but over 1,500km of driving we finished our test massively impressed.

NOTE: * Manufacturer's List Price (MLP) excludes dealer delivery fees and the numerous statutory charges (commonly known as on-road costs). Additionally, please note that all prices, fees and charges are subject to change without notice, as are the specifications.

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