Review and road test of the Kia Optima Sportswagon - Long Term Test
ESTATE OF THE ART
'Few of this car's rivals are as refined, stylish and comfortable to ride in....'
You don't really think of Kia in terms of luxury cars - but at some time quite soon, that perspective may have to change. We know that because we've been getting to grips with our new long term test car, the brand's stylish Optima Sportswagon.
The Optima has been a part of this growing Korean maker's product range for some years - but only in four door saloon guise. In the Autumn of 2016 though, the marque added this Sportswagon estate variant into the line-up and now reckons that this derivative will take the majority of Optima sales in this country. It seemed like a very good alternative option when the time came for us to replace our very well regarded Sportage SUV.
The variant we've been driving is the plushest one, the 1.7-litre CRDi diesel in top 'GT-Line' trim, complete with Kia's latest super-smooth 7-speed DCT ISG auto gearbox. Here, 139bhp is served up, which doesn't sound an awful lot for a vehicle around 1.7-tonnes in weight, but because you get 340 lb ft of torque, there's plenty of pulling power through the gears. The DCT auto 'box is as smooth as Kia promised it would be, swapping from ratio to ratio almost imperceptibly during our daily commute. This really does feel like a credible luxury car in that regard.
The brand tells us that this Sportswagon's styling was inspired by their SPORTSPACE concept and the result is a long, lean and dynamic profile. While the front of the car remains the same as the Optima saloon, its strong, rising shoulder and gently sloping, swept-back cabin continue for longer to produce its distinctive tourer body shape. The overhang at the rear adds greater visual volume to the back of the vehicle, though this extra mass is disguised by the raked rear window and tapering roofline, giving the Sportswagon more of an athletic stance in a typically conservative segment. At the rear of the car, wide LED tail lamps wrap around the corners of the bodywork. The rear bumper houses a single oval exhaust and features an integrated air diffuser, for a sporty finish.
The Sportswagon retains the same width (1,860mm) and length (4,855mm) as the Optima saloon but grows by 5mm in height (to 1,470mm) to accommodate the expanded boot which can swallow 553-litres. Our car has an electrically-powered tailgate, which we started off thinking was something of a gimmick but which we've actually come to rather like. Getting stuff in and out is aided by the low loading sill.
We reckon the cabin has a quality feel too, though the unremittingly dark trim colour choices do lend it a sombre air. The dashboard is spread along a horizontal plane and a wide central console, creating a greater sense of spaciousness. The material quality is miles better than Kia managed on its older models, with a far higher proportion of soft-touch materials. We like the way that the central fascia is angled 8.5 degrees towards the driver, with the upper 'display' zone housing a smart 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
And on the move? Well, we can think of lots of cars in this class that are more rewarding to drive. And many that are more efficient to run too. Few of these rivals are as refined, stylish and comfortable to ride in though.
As for pricing, well the days are long gone when Kia charged bargain basement figures for its cars. Optima Sportswagon prices start at just over £22,000 for this model in entry-level 1.7-litre CRDi diesel '2' trim. This top 'GT-Line' variant meanwhile, costs just over £30,000. Still, for that, you get an awful lot of car. For the same cash, we could have got ourselves a stripped-out, spartan BMW 318d Touring or Audi A4 2.0 TDI Avant. We know which we'd rather have on our driveway.
Another key Optima selling point we've had a chance to muse over is the much-trumpeted 7 year / 100,000 mile package. Most cars in this class come only with an unimpressive three year/60,000 deal. It's worth pointing out though, that when you read Kia's small print, you discover that you only actually get seven years of cover on the engine and gearbox: it's 100,000 miles and five years for everything else. Still, the overall package remains a great thing to be able to offer customers on the secondhand market, one reason why residual values of this car out-smart those of most direct rivals.
Overall, our expectations were high when we took on this Optima and so far, we haven't been disappointed. It could be better to drive, true, but it's luxurious, classy and comfortable and has a premium feel. Kia, it appears, is continuing its move up-market.
Facts at a Glance
FACTS AT A GLANCE
CAR: Kia Optima Sportswagon
PRICES: £22,295-£30,595 - on the road
INSURANCE GROUPS: 19E-20A
CO2 EMISSIONS: 113-120g/km
PERFORMANCE: [1.7 CRDi 139bhp] 0-62mph 10.0s / Max Speed 121mph
FUEL CONSUMPTION: [1.7 CRDi 139bhp] (Combined) 64.2mpg
STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front side and curtain airbags, ESC, trailer stability, tyre pressure warning, ABS
WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Heightmm 4855/1860/1470mm
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