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Kia Optima takes a giant leap, settles in Nigeria

By Theodore Opara

The new Kia Optima reminds me of the Jaguar XJ Sedan I test drove in South Africa last year. Both cars, though not in the same class, share much in common in terms of exterior design. They are sleek to a fault and appealing in every sense. From the front, side and rear, the two cars would keep you wondering if they are not designed by the same person or group.

But you know, in this era of computer aided designs, anything can happen. Both cars have been designed to capture your attention anywhere you find them.

But the new Kia Optima’s impressive look did not come by chance. Don’t forget that a former Volkswagen design chief moved to Kia and has been responsible for the design of exciting latest Kia models including the new Optima.

Last weekend provided me an opportunity to test-drive the all new Kia Optima. And my find was simple—The Kia Optima has taken a giant leap. It is certainly all-new car with features comparable to most cars in the premium segment. A six speed automatic transmission, infinity sound system, paddle shifters, Bluetooth hands-free, eight-way adjustable driver seat, audio remote control, engine start button, rear view camera, rear parking system, rear air ventilation, cooling glove box and a lot more, are what makes up the third generation Kia.

The all-new Kia Optima has turned out to become the car to beat in its segment and would no doubt rub shoulders with the likes of Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo. Design-wise, I will give it to the new Kia Optima for its irresistible design.

The monthly environmental sanitation in Lagos last Saturday could not deter the motoring journalists from exploring the capabilities of the all-new Kia Optima. They have gathered at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, late that morning to put the new Optima to real test on Lekki, Victoria Island road, and the destination was the Lekki Second Roundabout and back to the hotel.

To ensure free flow of traffic, Dana Motors officials representatives of Kia Motors in Nigeria, engaged the services of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority and their services paid off well as the new Kia Optima models drove through the traffic to the admiration of other motorists.

Sharing a car with my colleague from The Guardian Newspaper, Mrs. Yetunde Ebosele, I fired the new Optima on the newly reconstructed Victoria Island-Lekki road to the second roundabout where she took over the steering  wheel to complete the job back to the hotel.

The ride was smooth and the power of the new Optima was never in question. It surged like a high performance car but with good road-holding. It was at one of our stopover on Adeola Odeku Street, Victoria Island that a couple packed their compact sports utility vehicle, walked up to us, and enquired how they could acquire the new Optima,.

They were ready to give a cheque on the spot but we calmly told them to contact the right people in their office as ours was to do a test-drive of the car. They enquired about the performance and we gave them our verdict before writing this story. “It is a good buy going by what we have discovered from the test drive”.

Powered by a 2.0 litre Theta II petrol engine, the new Optima deliver far more power than the out-going model. This engine is marched with either a six speed manual or automatic transmission.

There is also a 2.4 litre engine version but Dana Motors Deputy General Manager, Mr. Debanjan Paul said the 2.0 litre is the Nigerian specification and will come fully loaded with feature that are hardly seen in cars in its class. “The class-leading performance of the new Optima is not in doubt and we are bringing it fully loaded with features you hardly could find in competing models,” the Deputy General Manager said.

The Dana Motors team briefing journalists at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos before the test-drive.

He noted that all the shortcomings of the outgoing Optima model have been taken care of in the new Optima.

The suspension, for instance, he said has been reinforced to withstanding our road condition while new tyre sizes have been added to te line up.

Inside, the new Optima has also improved a great deal with lot of features and space. A four-spoke steering wheel, paddle shifters, cruise control, easy-readable supervision cluster, drive-oriented centre facial tells you that the new Optima is designed to lead.

The interior dimension of the optima also increased to improve occupants comfort while luxury materials were used all through.

The Optima boasts the latest technology. The 530-watt premium Infinity sound system features eight speakers in addition to the standard Aux-USB and iPod connectively, all operated via intuitive, fingertip-sensitive controls.

Safety-wise, the Optima has added so much feature to move to the top of the segment. Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) larger disc brakes, dual air bag in front and front safety power windows are some of the standard safety features of the Optima.By Theodore Opara

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