However, it seems that if the company were to perform an about-face and offer the stylish load-carrier here, it’d come with a twist: a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drivetrain.
Kia Australia’s managing director Damien Meredith told us earlier this week that the company was considering offering the PHEV, sold in Europe and elsewhere already, as a new green ‘halo’.
“We’re doing a review of our mid-term product line up currently and we have to look at what we can do. Optima wagon in hybrid guise might be an option for us,” he said.
However, the general line coming from company insiders is that the business case needs to work. It can’t be treated as a simple loss-making marketing exercise.
Fans of the hot Optima SW GT with its 180kW turbo engine may be disappointed though. “The only one we would look at would be the hybrid,” Meredith said.
This decision makes real sense in the current context, where its Stinger GT performance leader is making waves and dragging the brand’s passenger range upmarket, priced as it is up to around the $60k mark.
Sister brand Hyundai is also setting the agenda in Australia’s fledgling environmentally conscious new car market with the imminent launch of its Ioniq hybrid, PHEV and full EV range — perhaps giving Kia more food for thought.
BMW also offers a series of i performance PHEV models such as the 330e, while Volkswagen is preparing for the Golf GTE in 2018. And, of course, Mitsubishi started the trend in Australia (alongside the Holden Volt) with its practical and popular Outlander PHEV crossover.
The Kia Optima Sportswagon PHEV teams a 115kW/189Nm naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre GDI (gasoline direct injection) petrol engine with an 11.26kWh lithium-polymer battery pack and a 50kW/205Nm electric motor. Matched is a six-speed auto.
There’s a pure-electric range of 62km at speeds up to 120km/h, after which time the petrol engine kicks in, and combined-cycle fuel economy of 1.5 litres per 100km on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The 0-100km/h dash is dispatched in 9.7 seconds.
Kia is selling up a storm in Australia this year, growing faster than any competitor — up 31 per cent, to 42,170 units to the end of September, putting it ahead of Subaru and almost equal with VW.