England rugby stars laughs at my singing Kia Optima. Can’t say I blame him…


“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…

Car leather just ain’t what it used to be but we HAVE to have it…


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…

The Kia what? Can the latest Optima make a name for itself in a tough marketplace?


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…