VICTORIA: Kia Motors unveiled the 2016 Optima at the New York Auto Show, the question on everybody’s mind was if there is a station wagon version of this car in the works. They had gone reason to wonder too, since Kia had unveiled the Sportspace Wagon only a month earlier in Geneva.
While it is a good-looking car, the current Optima lacks the broad engine range, cabin quality and dynamic ability needed to compete with the likes of the Ford Mondeo, VW Passat or Toyota Avensis.
The new Optima should change that. The official photo only shows only the front and it seems to be pretty evolutionary in style. We do know, thanks to the Sportspace concept shown in Geneva, that Kia is planning an estate version for 2018 and that there will be a full range of engines.
Currently, the Optima can only be had with a 1.7-litre diesel CRDI engine with surprisingly high (133g/km) CO2 emissions and an equally surprisingly high (€30,950) price tag. The new model will get the less powerful, but lower-emission version of the 1.7 CRDI engine (as used by the Hyundai i40). This should bring its emissions down to a more company-car-friendly 110g/km. There will also be a petrol-electric hybrid model, although that’s not yet confirmed for Europe.
What will come here is a new plugin hybrid that is set to extend the boundaries of battery-only performance for such cars.
If the segment swings back towards a petrol preference, Kia could also slot in its new 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine. There’s even a diesel-electric hybrid in the works.
Inside, the quality levels take a big step up from the current car and will include a large touch-screen in the centre of the dash, matte-finish buttons and switchgear and a part-digital instrument pack, similar to that seen on the new Sorento SUV. Space, already an Optima strong point, will get even better.
Given the shrinkage of the big saloon market, Kia is taking a risk by pumping resources into a model which may not sell in huge numbers.
Presumably though, the thought of getting one over on the giants of Ford, VW and Toyota was just too tempting to pass up. Irish sales of the new Optima should start in the new year.