Kia Optima Saloon review

Kia Optima
Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Kia’s status in the motoring world is on the rise, and their Optima saloon is testament to that.

Follow motoring journalist Tim Barnes-Clay on Instagram @tbarnesclay and Twitter @carwriteups.

A car’s a car, right? Well, kind of – and kind of not. It’s a bit like saying a house is a house. Some homes are palaces, some are sheds. Do you see where I’m going here? Of course, you do.

Kia Optima front cabin

Car badges make some people think that the car’s awesome – and that creates badge snobbery. German brands like BMW and Audi have nailed it when it comes to the name. See a Bimmer logo or the four rings Audi has, and it equates to, “That person’s done well”. Perceived status – that’s all it is. Oh, and either a large bank balance – or a good company car selection at work.

Kia Optima front light

Anyway, what I’m trying to get to is this: if you see a Kia badge, you don’t go all wobbly at the knees, do you? You don’t think someone’s “made it” if you see them in a Kia, either. Come on, if you’re honest, you don’t. The truth is, Korean cars just aren’t seen in the same light – yet. And “yet” is an important word, because Kia has been rising up the ranks steadily over the last decade or more. Indeed, the automaker has so much faith in its motors that they come with a seven-year transferrable warranty. What’s more, they’ve become quite sexy.

“It’s a looker”

Yes, even non-petrolhead dads have stopped and admired the Optima saloon I’ve had on test. On the school run, one thought it was a BMW – the other reckoned it was an Audi. They couldn’t believe it was a Kia when I pointed the badge out. These guys popped their respective heads into the Optima to check it out – and loved it. They appreciated it, even more, when I mentioned the warranty. Questions such as: “How much is that then?” and “My family would all get in that, wouldn’t they?” As well as “It’s a looker, isn’t it?” were all asked. I felt like a car salesman.

Kia Optima boot

The thing is, I enjoyed telling them about the five-seater, four-door saloon. It is sexy, big enough for a family and at £22,615, it’s good value for money. The Optima drives beautifully, too. Furthermore, parking it up outside my kids’ school, amongst the sea of boring SUVs and German ‘premium’ cars was a delight. The car’s a winner in my book. My three kids sat comfortably in the back and the boot was big enough for all the needs of a family-of-five. Plus, I was proud to have the Kia sat on my drive for a week.

I bet you it’ll be the Kia badge that will be seen as a status symbol one day. Maybe not yet. But it’ll happen. And then where will we be?

Fast Facts (Kia Optima 1.6 CRDi ‘2’ 6-speed manual ISG Saloon – as tested):

  • Max speed: 122mph
  • 0-60 mph: 10.6 seconds
  • Combined mpg: 53.3
  • Engine: 1598cc 4-cylinder turbo diesel
  • Max power (ps): 134
  • CO2: 117g/km
  • Price: £22,615