The Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid has been unveiled and detailed on the media day of the 2016 Chicago auto show.
As we revealed in November 2015, the Optima Plug-in Hybrid features a 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine with 115kW/189Nm, which is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that includes a 50kW electric motor.
The electric motor is fed by a 9.7kWh lithium polymer battery pack. With the battery located behind the rear seat and in the tyre well area, the Optima PHEV is able to retain its 60/40 split-folding rear seats.
While the battery can be partially recharged via regenerative braking, drivers will need to plug the Optima PHEV into the electricity grid to get the most benefit out of their car. According to Kia, the Optima Plug-in Hybrid's battery requires under three hours to be fully replenished using a 240V charger.
The vehicle shifts automatically between its pure EV, petrol-only and hybrid modes. Kia claims that with a fully charged battery and a full tank of fuel, the Optima PHEV has a total range of around 965 kilometres, with the car capable of 43km in EV mode.
Many of the PHEV's visual changes have been wrought in the name of aerodynamic efficiency, including the active shutter grille, reprofiled front and rear bumpers, new aero alloy wheels, and a new rear diffuser. Kia boasts that Optima PHEV has the same co-efficient of drag, 0.24, as the Tesla Model S.
Available features in the Optima Plug-in Hybrid include blind spot monitoring, smart cruise control, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, charging station locations, Google voice recognition searching, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a 10-speaker Harmon/Kardon sound system with a 630W digital amplifier.
The Optima Plug-in Hybrid goes on sale in the US as a 2017 model year car. According to Kevin Hepworth, Kia Australia's general manager of communications, "Every new Kia product is under consideration for Australia, but as yet there is no specific planning around [the Optima hybrid and plug-in hybrid, and Niro hybrid]".