Kia Optima GT Turbo an alluring blend of performance, style, quality and value
The all-new Kia Optima is Kia’s contribution to the mid-size sedan segment, and it competes with the likes of the Toyota Camry and Aurion Mazda6 and even the new Hyundai Sonata in which the Optima shares a number of components. Kia promises that the new Optima brings new levels of style, comfort and value to the segment.
What we like:
- Stunning design throughout
- Beautiful build quality
- Silky smooth but eager turbo engine
Not so much:
- Only 7,500km between services
- Considerably thirsty
- Could do with a fruitier exhaust note
- Tight headroom
Price and Equipment
Two variants of the Kia Optima are currently offered: the entry-level Kia Optima Si with a 2.4 litre naturally aspirated engine priced from $34,490 and the range-topping Kia Optima GT Turbo as tested, priced from a very reasonable $43,990.
The standard equipment list on the Optima GT Turbo is vast: power is delivered by a smooth, quiet but rapid turbo engine, there’s a leather interior with heated and cooled front seats, a 10 speaker Harmon/Kardon stereo, satellite navigation, wireless phone charging, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, swivelling xenon headlights, a panoramic roof, 18 inch alloys, a mild body kit, front and rear collision mitigation and much more.
The Kia Optima GT’s interior is a true reflection of Kia’s strategy to poach a number of design staff from Audi. The Optima GT’s interior feels European with all materials being of a high calibre, all controls laid out with ergonomic precision. Those familiar with the previous generation Audi A4 will feel a sense of déjà vu here.
The angled centre stack is driver friendly, and the switchgear is classy but simple. The fitment of a Harmon/Kardon stereo will not only satisfy audiophiles with its rich, crisp sound but is also a first for Kia and is indicative of the brand’s future upmarket aspirations. Music can be played on CD, streamed via Bluetooth or devices can be connected by USB. Phones can also be charged via Kia’s wireless charging system.
The red leather shrouds five very comfortable seats and affirms the GT’s sporty intentions. Legroom, like the Optima’s Hyundai Sonata sibling is excellent too, however, a steeply raked roofline and panoramic headroom chews into headroom, especially in the back.
The boot is 510 litres in size.
Engine and Transmission
The Kia Optima GT Turbo is powered by –as the name suggests- a 2.0 litre turbo charged petrol engine that develops 180kW @ 6000rpm and 350Nm @ 1400-4000rpm. The engine has a fabulously broad powerband and gathers pace without a hint of turbo lag and very minimal if no delay, resulting in brisk acceleration. The exhaust note for some part is a little disappointing, being a little too quiet a lower revs, especially for a sports model. A soft burble from idle would further enhance the car’s appeal.
The six-speed automatic encourages driver engagement by holding shifts when the driver chooses to swap cogs via the paddles mounted on that flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Average combined fuel consumption is quoted at 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres, but we found 10.5 litres more realistic.
On The Road
The Kia Optima GT Turbo proved itself to be a very fun car to drive. The turbo four and the six-speed automatic provide energetic motivation and the 18 inch wheels, direct steering and well-judged suspension settings make for a comfortable and composed ride, but smile inducing handling.
Corners are devoured with ease, and that sports steering wheel feeding the driver information to their fingertips and it feels poised and balanced. Hit the highway and the adaptive (and intuitive) cruise control takes the sting out of lengthy motorway driving.
The Kia Optima GT Turbo is fitted with dual front, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, rear cross traffic alert, autonomous braking all as standard.
The Kia Optima GT Turbo is covered by Kia’s market leading seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Kia Optima GT Turbo Specs
Make and model: Kia Optima GT Turbo
Engine type: 1998cc turbo petrol four-cylinder engine
Power: 180kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 350Nm @ 1400-4000rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Fuel consumption: 8.5 litres (combined)
Dimensions: 4855mm long, 1860mm wide, 1465mm high and 2805mm wheelbase
Steering: Rack and pinion
Country of Origin: South Korea
Options: Platinum Graphite paint, $595