2016 Kia Optima Launch Review

2016 Kia Optima Australian Launch Review from Simon Lai.

2015 Kia Optima Launch Review
2016 Kia Optima Launch Review

I recently selected the Hyundai Sonata as one of my nominees for the Behind the Wheel Car of the Year.

Meanwhile Kia has launched the new 2016 Kia Optima range which essentially is the same lolly inside a different wrapper.

So if you want the same engines but with Kia styling (as I prefer), then the new Optima may be the way to go.

But unlike it’s Korean cousin, Kia is only offering two spec levels for the new Optima. The base model Optima Si comes with the 2.4L petrol engine as in the Sonata Active which produces 138kW and 241Nm.

2015 Kia Optima Launch Review
2016 Kia Optima Launch Review

While the Optima GT is fitted with the very exciting 2.0L turbo petrol with its meaty 180kW and 350Nm also found in the Sonata Elite/Premium.

Though the drivetrain may be identical – paired with a six-speed auto transmission – the pricing isn’t, coming in a smidge higher.

The Si has been set at $34,490 as a starting price and the top spec GT is valued from $43,990, two thousand more than the Sonata Premium.

Both variants come with a reversing camera plus front and rear parking sensors, dual zone climate control, LED DRLs, auto HID headlights with washers, auto wipers, an autodimming mirror, electric folding mirrors, paddle shifters and 3 drive modes.

2015 Kia Optima Launch Review
2016 Kia Optima Launch - Optional GT red leather interior

Exclusive to the Si are a 7” touchscreen with satnav, LCD instrument display, static cornering lights, LED fog lamps in an attractive honeycomb cluster and 17” Continental  Conti Premium Contact 5 tyres.

Upgrade to the GT and you’ll have an 8” touchscreen with satnav, push button start/keyless entry, ventilated and heated seats, smart trunk, LED rear lights, 8-way power seats with memory, panoramic sunroof, colour instrument display, adaptive lighting, and a 10 speaker Harmon Kardon system.

A few cool additions are leather seats with GT logo and stitching; a heated, flat bottomed steering wheel also with GT logo; rear door sunshades; Sports pack with bumpers, red brake callipers, black side sill; and a hi-tech wireless phone charger in the centre console storage well.

2015 Kia Optima Launch Review
2016 Kia Optima - Si grille

On the exterior, a chrome grille adorns the nose, along with different side intakes on both models and the honeycomb fog lights on the Si as mentioned.More chrome can be found down the side with a strip on the upper roof line and the vehicle is slightly larger overall than the previous model.

While on the inside the finish around the gear shifter also differs in each model and the GT comes with a no cost option of different upholstery in both black leather with red stitching or red leather with grey stitching.

On the road the Optima provided me the same enjoyment I experienced  in the Sonata as we took it to the proving grounds of the NSW Southern Highlands.

2015 Kia Optima Launch Review
2016 Kia Optima Launch Review

Of course the power and acceleration were comparable and as responsive and dynamic especially in the 2.0L turbo.

Reaction is immediate when you put your foot on the pedal and stepping through the gear is smooth  with more noticeable lag in the Si.

Traction and road feel are amplified on the GT fitted with 18” Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres like the ones found on the Pro_cee’d GT.

Combined with  the superb suspension the ride is pleasurable really letting you down easy off the heavy bumps.

2015 Kia Optima Launch Review
2016 Kia Optima Launch Review

Inside the cockpit the ride is also quieter due to improvements made on the sound proofing (NVH).

It’s no surprise the GT with its 2.0L turbo would be chew up more fuel at over 10L/100km and was easily bettered by the lesser Si.

What the 2.4L engine lacks in power and performance it makes up for in economy. Although the journey include a fair deal of highway cruising, the meter did flash up an impressive 5.5L/100km.

On the safety front, the Optima is no slouch either equipped with a complement of 6 airbags, 2 Isofix anchors, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure and adaptive cruise control.

2015 Kia Optima Launch Review
2016 Kia Optima Launch Review

Plus the GT has added blind spot detection, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.

There is an obvious gap between the two model when you look at the pricing with no mid-spec option. Kia says they were aiming for simplification and because of the growing popularity of SUVs, doesn’t expect the medium sized car to be a volume seller.

However, in this humble writer’s opinion, you’d be crazy not to consider the 2015 Kia Optima when looking for a new family car.

2015 Kia Optima Launch Review
2016 Kia Optima Launch Review

NUTS and BOLTS - 2016 Kia Optima

Engine: 2.4 litre petrol producing 138kW and 241Nm or 2.0 litre turbo petrol producing 180kW and 350Nm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Warranty: 7 year unlimited

Safety: Not yet tested

Origin: South Korea

Price: Si – $34,490

GT – $43,990

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