Sitting in the impressive Optima 1.7 CRDi ‘4’ DCT 7-speed is so very relaxing that it allows you plenty of time to ponder the Intricacies of the Kia, the things that we take for granted in a car, the functions that we use everyday without a second thought. Even whilst relaxing in the deep, comfortable leather seats, with their cooling and heating functions, the neat little design elements that surround you or replicate styling ideas that define a brand seep into your consciousness stopping those features from becoming so familiar that we stop admiring them for the things of beauty that they are.
On first glance, your eyes are immediately drawn to the slightly elongated silhouette from the previous model with its gleaming chrome highlights sweeping along the line of the side windows and along the line of the boot. For a saloon, the shape is easily reminiscent of a hatchback and allows the Kia to project a modern, contemporary look that is at ease amongst its competitors.
Kia have shared with MotorMartin about how important it was during the design process that they were able to make sure that this, the very latest Optima, shared their signature Tiger-Nose grille which was married to longer, wider, wrap-around headlamps and LED rear lamps to make sure that this executive saloon continues to stand out from the crowd. This model is also longer, wider and higher than its predecessor which means more head and shoulder and rear seat leg room and greater cargo capacity, all of which allow the Optima to truly encompass MotorMartin’s ‘real life’ motoring sensibilities whilst still retaining its handsome profile.
Elegant 18″ diamond cut alloy wheels set this ‘4’ edition Optima apart from the rest of the range and suit the Kia’s outline without looking out of place as some larger alloys can. The view from the front is also well thought out and looks fantastic, in MotorMartin’s opinion.
I particularly like the triple LED fog lights that are situated under the line of the bumper and the additional chrome detailing on the fins that sweep out towards the front wheels, all of which help to confirm the attention to detail that can be found all over the Kia and which encapsulates the look of the Optima perfectly.
A closer look at the sharp end of this car reveals a black rectangle underneath the number plate which includes the electronic wizardry behind some of the impressive driving aids that are fitted onto this particular Optima 1.7 CRDi ‘4’ DCT 7-speed. The amazing Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC) has been discussed previously during part 1 of this review but that is only one area that sets the Kia apart from the competition. Further driving aids include Speed Limit Information Function (SLIF) which uses the camera and navigation system to read speed limit signs along the road, which then displays the posted speed beside the speedometer and on the navigation screen and is the kind of system and safety feature that very quickly becomes an aid to driving that you miss when you don’t have it.
MotorMartin is also a fan of the Blind Spot Detection system (BSD) which alerts the driver if a vehicle is in their blind spot when changing lanes. This works through radar sensors in the rear bumper which monitor the areas behind the vehicle that are difficult to see. A warning symbol in the exterior mirror glass then lights up when necessary and yet, if this warning is ignored and you change lane, the symbol starts to flash and a warning sound is emitted. Very helpful indeed. The electronic brain of the Kia, combined with the technology within, work seemlessly to provide you with a safe and comfortable environment to travel to the shops and back as well as journeying further afield when the mood or circumstances dictate.
But all of this technology, technology of which MotorMartin’s barely scratched the surface of, is of little or no value if the driving itself is underwhelming and below par. Fortunately the Optima delivers in bucket loads. Setting the 8 way power adjustable, memory front seats and steering is simple and exactly as expected but it’s the additional features that make the driving experience just so.
The extremely clear, superbly lit speedometer and rev counter includes a customisable 4.3″ TFT LCD (Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Display) centrally positioned within the eyeline of the driver, which can be scrolled through to provide important information such as speed, average fuel economy, range and trip data as well as the ubiquitous outside temperature. All of which allows the driver to concentrate on driving as everything that you need to know is either displayed directly in front of you or is a few short clicks away using the easily reached steering wheel control cluster positioned on the right hand spar.
With the dual zone climate control set to a comfortable temperature, the simply stunning harman/kardon premium sound system with its 10 speakers, 8″ subwoofer and external amplifier tuned to Radio X and postcode data added into the easy to use 8″ touchscreen SAT NAV system, the Optima is good to go.
With this particular Optima featuring Kia’s very latest 1.7 CRDi power plant and producing a not inconsiderable 139bhp, a 0-60mph time of 10.6 seconds is achievable, whilst a combined mpg figure of 64.2 is excellent in a car of this size and ability.
As a mile eater of considerable comfort and ability you wouldn’t necessarily expect the Optima to be able to handle the more enjoyable aspects of the journey, but handle the twisting country A and B roads it does. And it does so very well, the car remaining stable during the bends whilst the brakes are powerful and offer plenty of feel when you need them to be.
The automatic gearbox changes smoothly through all of its 7 gears, whilst the kick down you need when overtaking allows full use of the engines torque and power. For those that wish for a more sporting feel, it’s simple enough to move the gearshift across from drive and to the right and then make full use of the gear paddles situated comfortably behind the steering wheel. It’s not quite F1 but it is another string to add to the Optima’s rather impressive bow.
Summing up the Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi ‘4’ DCT 7-speed is really rather simple as in MotorMartin’s opinion, it is an executive saloon who’s £21,495 starting price belies its looks, sophistication and ability. With plenty of comfort and space available for driver and passengers, driving aids that genuinely aid driving and a willing, efficient and economical engine the Optima certainly offers practical and ‘real life’ motoring aplenty and would make a great addition to the fleet here at MotorMartin Towers.
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