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…