Our Fleet Test Drive: Kia Optima - 1st Report
15 February 2012
Author: Guy Bird
 Steering wheel
Let's start with what we know about Kia in 2012. Firstly, it doesn't make any rubbish new cars anymore, and secondly, they're now becoming quite desirable courtesy of a designer who used to work for Audi.
As the Optima is an all-new car - rather than a facelift - Kia has had the opportunity to banish another
one of its rubbish cars to history (the Magentis) and replace it with a large family saloon light years ahead of its predecessor in quality and visual appeal. But the question we'll be trying to answer in the next six months is whether your fleet driver would rather choose one in favour of, say, a Vauxhall Insignia, Peugeot 508 or Ford Mondeo and whether you - on the basis of running costs - would recommend that the company run one.
Initial impressions are good from the various drivers and onlookers who have witnessed it. The overall shape is 'classic saloon'  but with a sporty lean towards the rear, and boasts small but significant details like Jag/Aston-style side vents and front lamp LED extras  more often seen on so-called premium cars that will quietly appeal. The cabin feels Smart too. The 'leather' on the Seat edging is fake but it doesn't look cheap, and where you really feel the car - on the steering wheel rim  and to a lesser extent on the gear stick gaiter - it is real leather and well wrapped. All the switchgear works without a wobble, and chrome accents seem well fitted. It's spacious in the front and the back and the deep boot - a welcome change from the upright but shallow Mini Countryman's - will swallow a useful 505 litres. Check the added options list and there's only metallic paint at £475 to declare on this mid-range 2 Tech trim model. Everything else, from full colour satnav and stop/start to a neat real-time reversing camera screen, is included (you won't get that with many of its rivals).
Knowing how business-focused this market is, Kia is only offering one diesel engine - the 134hp 1.7 CRDi - which in manual guise records a creditable 57.6mpg and 128g/km of CO2 for a decent 18% BIK tax band and no first-year road tax. A promising start.
|Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi 2 Tech (manual)|
|Claimed combined |
|Our average consumption||43.5 mpg|
|Model price range||£19,595-£25,995|
|CO2 (tax) ||128g/km/18%|
|BIK 20/40% per month||£65/£130|
|Service interval|| 12,500 or 12months|
|Boot space ||505 litres|
|Why we’re running it||To see if Kia really |
can mix-it with the
fleet’s big boys
|Positive||Good looks, |
|Negative||Small initial |
niggles to fix
|*Before options fitted: Metallic paint £475|