The Kia Optima has a lot of space, equipment and warranty but somehow it doesn’t live up to the promise.
Ride and handling are only average and cabin quality is way off the mark – even the latest Ford Mondeo leaves it for dead.
There’s only a 1.7-litre diesel in the range and it lacks refinement. The unit is noisy on the motorway, not helped by a rumble from the tyres.
Optima is my least favourite car in an otherwise excellent Kia range. As my school report said: could do better….
“What’s that noise, man? You’re car is playing naff music!” The embarrassment of it all. Yesterday I interviewed England rugby star Jonathan Joseph and I ended up parking the Kia next to his BMW X6.
As I’m 51 and he’s 23, the balance of automotive power was in his favour I’d say. I could have reminded him how ugly the X6 is and that my Optima comes with a seven year warranty.
However, before I had a chance to haggle on behalf on my wheels, the Optima started playing that ridiculous tune that sounds every time you put the key in the ignition!
All street cred gone – my sensible family saloon was a laughing stock. Just think yourself lucky it’s not Clarkson writing this review because he would have self-combusted by now…
I’ve clocked up several hundred miles in the Optima already and have concluded that 1.7-litre diesel engine is quite capable enough of moving such a big car sufficiently well.
There is, of course, only one engine choice – no 2.0 diesel, or even a petrol. And while the Optima feels okay around town, it runs out of steam overtaking at speed. You will have to work the six-speed gearbox to achieve anything useful.
Noise levels are acceptable but once the turbo has kicked in, the Optima starts to scream when you push it along.
The answer? Do what drivers have been doing for decades in this situation, turn up the stereo. The Kia strangely boasts a heavyweight, bass-booming hi-fi that wouldn’t disgrace a supercar. Bizarre.
I wonder if one day, drivers will start to shy away from leather upholstery and opt for some plush, fabric materials instead?
Car-buyers naturally assume that a luxury car interior HAS to be covered hide. Of course, nowadays you can spec up just about any budget runabout vehicle with leather if you so desire.
The Optima has a leather interior but it’s not soft, lovely and good to the touch. It’s the sort of leather you would get in a jacket bought from the Portobello Road Market, rather than in a swish Belstaff.
Personally, I’d rather Kia improved the lifeless steering response and given the diesel engine a bit more power, and stick to fabric interiors instead…
Remember that annoying little jingle that used to come with the Intel Pentium? Every time we had a computer advert on TV, it blurted out and became stuck in our minds.
The Kia Optima has a pointless jingle – except it’s not part of a television ad but every bloody time you put the key in the ignition. That’s right, this is a car that plays a ditty when you climb inside.
Now, perhaps if the owner could add his or her own piece of music that would be cool. I would go for Fanfare for the Common Man, by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Except my Kia in Korea has opted for a four second slice of Europop instead that is annoying the hell out of me after just two days of our test.
I have a friend who is selling Hyundai because he simple can’t cope with the electronic handbrake. I would be slapping my Optima on Autotrader tomorrow just to avoid listening to the music in my Kia saloon….
It’s Saturday and I’ve already covered 400 miles int he Optima. Yesterday, I drove to Goodwood to fly in a Spitfire for a feature that will appear in the Financial Times.
I rather hoped to turn up in an Aston Martin, a Morgan or something terrible British. But time and Spitfire flights wait for no man and so I arrived under the wire in the Optima.
I say that because Kia’s biggest problem is actually getting the Optima out there – people just don’t have a a clue what it is!
So in a market sector dominated by BMW these days (with the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra lagging behind), the Koreans are going to have a tough job raising sufficient awareness of the saloon to get it noticed.
I’m not sure anybody spotted me arriving in the Optima. There’s nothing wrong with the styling but it doesn’t reach out and grab you. I’m not sure I want to blend in the the crowd just yet either…
Bells, whistles, LEDs and an (annoying) digital soundtrack – the Proceed GT has them all. Hot hatch buyers want a car that looks like it means business and Kia’s first offering in this marketplace does just that.
The Korean car maker shifts more than 65,000 vehicles a year in the UK, although it’s unlikely many will be GTs. However, the coupe is a statement of intent, it shows what the company is capable of.
At £20,000, the entry-level version we’ve had on test for the past week is great value for money. It’s more cost effective than a Renault Megane RS or a Ford Focus ST. Perhaps more importantly, it has a rarity value neither can match.
Unfortunately, it can’t match the rivals for driving experience either. But if you want bangs for your bucks, the Proceed GT has to be worth a test drive…
So I spent last night looking at cars to buy. Not that I need one but a friend wants to spend £10,000 on ‘a little something for the weekend’. An occasional car which had to be fun, reliable and preferably open-top.
After several hours of automotive porn, I narrowed it down to either 2011 Mazda MX-5, or a 2008 BMW Z4. Later versions of both come with a folding hard-top but these were top spec softies.
In the end, I opted for the Mazda – perhaps the most iconic two-seater ever made. But the exercise also made me think about whether I might ever choose the Proceed if I was doing the same research in five years time, searching for a cheap coupe.
If I had to rule out the Audi TT (too expensive) and the VW Scirocco then the answer might be yes. Why? Because like all Kias, the Proceed comes with a seven year warranty and that puts it streets ahead of the rest…
Technology is a wonderful thing but sometimes I think we go too far. I’ve never really believed in the merits of ‘bendy’ headlights that turn with the car, or lane departure warning systems that just distract the driver by vibrating the steering wheel.
There seems to be a lack of understanding between what manufacturers think we need – often in the cause of safety – and what we actually do need. Take the Kia’s ignition system welcome tune.
That’s right, every time you slot the key in the steering column, the car plays a little ditty, something that over the course of several years will become as annoying as the beep of a checkout scanner in a supermarket.
I don’t know how checkout people survive that beep day after day after day… But I do know that I’d probably last two weeks owning a Pro_cee’d before attacking the speaker system with a chisel and hammer. It will drive you nuts and I imagine there;s something in the glovebox that tells you how to switch it off but it does beg the question…
WHY do we need it Kia!!!
I’m wondering why it took the Koreans quite so long to build their first hot hatchback. OK, there was once the well-received Hyundai Coupe but the Proceed is really the only car to rival anything with a GTI badge on the boot.
As I’ve already explained, the Proceed GT (I’m fed up with writing Pro_cee’d) isn’t exactly barnstorming fast with a 0-60mph time of 7.4 seconds. The gearbox is hardly slick and the 1.6 petrol engine has to be worked to achieve maximum ‘fun’ potential.
Be that as it is, the three-door with the eye-catching profile still provides enough performance to put a smile on my face. Well, for the first 50 miles anyway.
Then my happiness turns to a grimace as I struggle to get comfortable in the rock hard sports seats. It’s quite bizarre that Kia build a lukewarm hatchback then sticks a pair of F1 seats in the front!
Yep, if you like comfort or suffer from haemorrhoids get the standard Proceed and give the GT’s chairs a miss…