The Kia Optima Turbo has been made available to right hand drive markets for the first time and Kia Australia is considering the performance sedan to spearhead its range for 2013.
- shares

The Kia Optima Turbo, which is powered by a 2.0-litre direct injection turbocharged GDI engine, puts out 204kW of power and 365Nm of torque. The turbo is propelled via the front-wheels and the transmission remains the same solid six-speed automatic we’ve come to appreciate across the Kia range.

The Optima is going to end 2012 with around 2000 local sales, which is significantly up on its 2011 figure of around 900. However, despite its growing success, the question remains as to whether or not a business case can be made for the turbocharged variant that won’t cannibalise existing sales.

Kia Australia’s national public relations manager, Kevin Hepworth, told CarAdvice at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where the company is unveiling the new Cerato sedan, that it would only make sense to bring the turbo Optima to Australia if it increases actual sales, rather than just move already interested buyers into another variant. A situation that Ford is experiencing with the introduction of the four-cylinder turbocharged Falcon ecoboost.

The Kia Optima is set for a mid-life facelift towards the middle of next year or early 2014, which will see changes to the front and rear styling and updates to the in-car technology. Whether or not a decision on the turbo variant will be announced at the same time as the facelift remains to be seen. The UK is likely to be the first right hand drive market to get the turbocharged variant.

Ultimately the decision to bring the Kia Optima turbo to Australia in the current generation may not be all that important for enthusiasts, as Kia Australia is actively looking at other models that may be available with a turbocharged engine, such as the next-generation Kia Cerato Koup, which is expected in local showrooms towards the end of 2013.

Kia Australia brought CarAdvice to Los Angeles for the auto show but also for a chance to drive the American version of the Optima Turbo, so check back in the next few days for a full review.