Kia’s German styling guru Peter Schreyer has weaved his magic again with the updated 2014 model year Optima sedan boasting even sharper looks. There are a couple of new upscale models and some new safety technology as well, but the price (now $30,490 to $38,790) remains the standout for Kia’s mid-size sedan.
This will likely be the last update before the all-new Kia Optima arrives, we’d guess within 18 months. And that newcomer will have a hard act to follow – the spectacular-looking Optima has been phenomenal for Kia.
Sure there are some great mid-size sedans and hatchbacks in the market, but the Kia Optima can stand toe-to-toe with the best of them. No wonder it’s a CarShowroom.com.au Favourite.
Kia Optima Overview
Kia handed us the keys to a shiny, new, range-topping Kia Optima Platinum model. And here’s where the value-for-money equation is crystal clear – compared to one direct rival, the $38,790 Kia Optima Platinum delivers a price advantage of more than $8,000.
Also new to the lineup is the mid-grade Kia Optima SLi, priced at $34,990 (entry-level Si is stickered at $30,490).
Changes are plentiful with new front and rear styling and an upgraded interior. On the technology front, there’s extra refinement so the latest Kia Optima is quieter on-road than its predecessor, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard in the Platinum model .
Befitting the range-topping model, as well as the Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, the Kia Optima Platinum is fully loaded with features including satellite navigation, keyless push-button start, rain-sensing wipers and some interior and exterior styling enhancements.
At 4,845mm in overall length, the Kia Optima is one of the larger mid-size sedans. This is really the new breed of these cars which, as we know, are replacing large sedans throughout the world as the go-to cars for both families and commercial buyers.
Unlike some in this segment, the Kia Optima is exclusively a four-door sedan with no hatchback or wagon variants. Kia Australia also only sells the Optima with a petrol engine (both Ford Mondeo and Mazda6 have optional turbo-diesels as does the i40 from Kia’s sister company Hyundai).
Kia Optima Engine
No changes under the bonnet and thanks to Kia’s direct-injection 2.4-litre petrol engine, the Optima is one of the most powerful mid-sizers with 148kW/250Nm on-tap.
Drive is to the front wheels via Kia’s Sportmatic six-speed automatic transmission.
Combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 7.9l/100kms.
Kia Optima The Interior
What separates the stars from the also-rans in the mid-size segment is interior space. That requires clever design so cue Peter Schreyer, Kia’s head of design who operates principally out of the company’s European design studio in Frankfurt, Germany.
Whether you’re considering the Kia Optima as a company vehicle or family car you’ll enjoy the roomy interior. A 2,795mm wheelbase and Mr Schreyer’s brilliance with the crayons means there’s plenty of room in both front and rear plus a handy 505-litre cargo capacity.
No wonder buyers in every corner of the planet are abandoning large cars in favour of these next-generation mid-sizers.
New seats feature in the 2014 model Kia Optima (climate-controlled, leather-trimmed and electronically adjustable fronts in the Platinum model). The driving position (rake/reach adjustment for the nicely-sized, leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel) is terrific.
To the left is the seven-inch full-colour LCD screen for the satellite navigation, climate control and eight-speaker audio system (premium Infinity version in the Platinum model). The Platinum model Kia Optima also scores Kia’s colour TFT Supervision instrument cluster plus mood lighting for the centre console (and the doors).
Trim highlights are now satin finish and timber and the centre console is high-gloss black.
Kia Optima Exterior & Styling
The Kia Optima made a bold statement when it first arrived and still turns heads today with its sweeping, coupe-like style. That high waistline, sophisticated front-end and elegant C-pillars/rear three-quarters combine to deliver an upscale look which again stretches Kia Optima’s value equation.
For the 2014 model, Schreyer’s team in Frankfurt provided new front and rear fascias with the new black grille and a sporty rear diffuser.
Lights were re-done as well – highlighted by intricate new pods of four LED fog-lights (like the Kia Pro_Cee’d GT) as well as new LED DRLs integrated into the Xenon headlights.
Our Platinum model rode on stylish new 18-inch alloy wheels.
Kia Optima On The Road
The Kia Optima and Ford Mondeo both weigh-in around 100kgs heavier than the Mazda6. So the Mazda rewards with precision and directness.
Kia Optima is up there and didn’t disappoint over our high-speed mountain roads test loop…but perhaps not as sporty as the Mazda6 or as firm as the Ford Mondeo. But we are splitting hairs here and certainly Kia’s local suspension development is to be applauded.
And there’s no doubt Kia’s 148kW250Nm 2.4-litre engine gets the green tick – plenty of power when you want it and nicely mated to the six-speed automatic transmission.
Around town, the Kia Optima gets the job done – the standard reversing camera and nicely –weighted power steering make parking a breeze and - despite those coupe-like looks - there’s lots of visibility.
Kia Optima Challenges
Despite the improvements, the Kia Optima is still a tad behind the best in the segment for refinement and sporty driving dynamics.
Kia Optima Verdict
A few things stand out with the latest Kia Optima Platinum – good looks, impressive equipment and handy interior space. But it’s the value-for-money which really commands attention.
At $38,790, the Kia optima Platinum really asks serious questions about the price tags of major rivals.
So its justification as a CarShowroom.com.au favourite is obvious.
Kia Optima The Competition
There are some great cars in this segment but, looking specifically at similarly equipped range-toppers gives a clear picture of Kia Optima’s outstanding value-for-money.
A CarShowroom.com.au favourite is Ford’s German Mondeo (a hatchback, not a sedan remember). Ford’s 149kW/300Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine is a match for Kia’s 148kW/250Nm 2.4-litre plus the Mondeo may have a smidge more interior space… but at $44,990, the fully-loaded Ford Mondeo Titanium model is $6,200 more than the Kia Optima Platinum.
Our other favourite is the hot-selling Mazda6. We love everything about the Mazda6 and its 138kW/250Nm SkyActiv petrol engine is a standout. But the Atenza sedan will set you back an extra $8,020 over the Kia Optima Platinum with a sticker of $46,810.
Even Kia’s sister company Hyundai misses-out with the excellent European i40 sedan priced at $42,990 for the Premium model ($4,200 north of the Kia Optima Platinum). Great looks with the i40 and lots of space inside, but only 130kW/213Nm from Hyundai’s 2.0-litre engine.