By Theodore Opara
THE transformation is beyond imagination. The Kia Optima has become the sedan to beat in the medium-size car segment after three successful model changes. From Asia to Europe and America, the Optima, like other Kia models has won great respect for Kia, giving the Japanese, American, and European models a good competition.
Gone are the days when the Optima was looked down upon. It has established itself as one of the best sedans in its class.
A totally grown up sedan, the Optima has been described in many quarters as a masterpiece of engineering thanks to Kia engineering team and the input of former Volkswagen Group design chief who brought his wealth of experience to bear in the new Kia models.
You would not be surprise to hear people arguing whether the new Kia Optima is an Audi or Jaguar sibling, when they look at it from the rear from a distance. The same goes for the all new Kia Sportage which looks like a compact Audi SUV
That is the level of transformation that has gone into a nameplate that was not reckoned with many years ago.
From design to safety, comfort and engineering, the all new Kia can be rated five-star. It is modern in every sense and full of clever technology that one could hardly resist, which could have informed the award of ‘Best designed sedan’ conferred on the Optima by the Nigerian Auto Journalist in 2011, barely three months after it was released into the Nigerian market.
Though the new Optima is available in two engine variants: a 2.0 and 2.4 theta II engine. But Kia adopted the 2.0 litre powerplant as the Nigerian specification.
Also available are two transmissions in the new Optima line up — six-speed automatic transmission and six-speed manual transmission.
The automatic version with advanced software ensures that gear shift occur at optimum point, the manual gate is positioned on the driver’s side for easier operation. The Optima automatic transmission comes with Active Eco System which optimises all the drive train elements to deliver significant fuel saving. This means that the Optima delivers higher performance with lower emissions.
Parading one of the best designs ever in the medium-size car segment, the Optima looks sporty and modern. One glance at the car tell you that the designers never left anything to chance.
“With a body shell conceived as a single futuristic unit, the high-tech silhouette conveys all the clean, streamlined references it designers could muster. The striking, sharply styled front end is further refined by the contrasting black of the signature Kia radiator grille, bezel frame headlights and lower air dam”.
The well crafted rear view of the Optima with LED rear lights complete the design of the Optima as the worthy winner of ‘Best Designed Car’ by the Nigerian Auto Media Awards (NAMA).
Inside, the Optima reflects Kia’s high level of creativity. The Optima’s Muscular athleticism is carried through to the cabin. A cockpit area shaped around the drivers cabin with a sturdy four-spoke steering wheel for complete control. The Supervision Cluster with 3.5’’ colour TFL LCD is unique in every sense. This high-tech, visually striking supervision cluster gives essential information such as average fuel economy, trip distance, distance to empty, open door warning and outside temperature. At the same time, it allows you to fully customise the menu to your own desired settings. A truly smart car, the Optima offers you Bluetooth hands-free, auto cruise control, paddle shifters, multi-function steering wheel, etc.
Though the Optima might look compact from the outside,it has amazing space inside when compared to any sedan in its category. Headroom, and legroom have become generous for both front and rear passengers while driver comfort has received particular attention with the driver seat incorporating an advanced memory system that remembers the settings for two different drivers.
Luxury materials were freely used in the Optima such as leather and ventilated seats, panoramic sunroof, infinity sound system, offering six CD changer with audio system, MP3 as well as Aux, and ipod, USB input.
The Optima is not all about beauty, and performance, it boasts the best safety features in its class. The Optima incorporates a whole range of state-of-the-art features to provide to the occupants. These include electronic stability control, large disc brakes, rear view camera, active headrests, hill-start Assist Control (HAC), airbags, etc.