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by Tim Beissmann

The Kia Optima Hybrid appears no closer to being offered in Australian showrooms, despite an upgraded version making its international debut at the Chicago auto show.

With peak outputs of 148kW and 319Nm from its 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid powertrain, the Optima Hybrid claims combined cycle fuel consumption of 6.2 litres per 100km according to US data, making it 29 per cent more fuel efficient than the regular petrol model.

Despite the promised fuel savings, Kia Australia public relations manager Kevin Hepworth told CarAdvice the local division had not developed a business case for the Optima Hybrid, though said the frugal mid-size sedan remained “on the table” for introduction to our market in the future. Kia launched the updated 2014 Optima range in Australia in January, powered exclusively by a 148kW/250Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.

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The 2014 Optima Hybrid features a restyled grille, redesigned headlight and tail-light clusters, and new LED fog lights in the revised front bumper, which gets additional vents and improved aerodynamics to increase airflow and reduce drag.

Hybrid-exclusive 16- and 17-inch alloy wheel patterns and side and rear badges further distinguish the exterior form the regular model.

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The technological upgrades applied to the petrol-powered Optima carry over to the Hybrid’s interior, including the 4.3-inch instrument cluster display and optional 8.0-inch infotainment screen with internet radio and real-time traffic updates. White leather upholstery is also available as an option.

The 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid is currently on show in Chicago alongside the Soul EV.




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