I have owned my KIA Optima Platinum for almost three years now, and not once have I regretted my decision to purchase this car.
Before purchasing the Optima I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted in my next car; leather seats, sat-nav, sunroof et cetera and was seriously considering a 2007 Lexus IS250 or a 2009 Alfa Romeo 159 Ti manual.
I was introduced to the Optima by my Dad who purchased one in early 2013 and was immediately impressed by its fit and finish, endless list of standard features, unbeatable warranty, comfortable drive, and its stunning looks. Eventually, I found a late 2012 model with navigation at a price I couldn't refuse.
The Optima was penned by ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer, and he did an amazing job on the Optima. In my opinion it is still one of the best looking mid-sized sedans on the road.
The cabin is very roomy; I am 192cm tall and can sit comfortably in every seat except the rear centre. Legroom and headroom in the rear is great despite the coupe-like sloping roofline. Even at my driving position I can sit comfortably in the rear without my knees coming into contact with the back of the front seats.
The interior design is also a highlight in my opinion, and I especially like how all controls are angled slightly towards the driver and I really appreciate the high centre console that really makes you feel like you are sitting inside the car rather than on it. The front seats are firm and comfortable, however, slightly more side bolstering would have been nice.
Build quality is fantastic; at four-and-a-half years old there are no rattles or broken pieces of trim. The leather seats are supple and all plastics on the dash and upper door panels are soft to touch. There are some hard plastics used lower down in the cabin but they have a quality look and feel to them and don't mark very easily – even the fake woodgrain looks convincing.
The Optima comes loaded with features: proximity key with keyless start, panoramic sunroof, electric heated and cooled leather seats, satellite navigation with live traffic updates and the ability to warn when approaching speed cameras, rear-view camera and parking sensors, Bluetooth, HID cornering headlights, LED tail lights and an impressive 550w 12-speaker Infinity stereo plus a separate subwoofer.
The Optima is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.4-litre direct injected four cylinder engine producing 148kW and 250Nm. I would say power is adequate for a car of its size. Sure, a little more wouldn't hurt, but there has never been a time under normal driving conditions where the power hasn't been enough. It accelerates to the speed limit effortlessly and can reach 100km/h in around nine seconds.
The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that shifts gears very smoothly and never seems to hunt for gears. It also has a 'sports' mode which allows you to shift gears manually using the shift lever or paddle-shifters.
Standard fit tyres were rubbish so I replaced them with a set of Bridgestone Potenza RE003 Adrenalines and that really improved the ride and handling of the car, especially in the wet. It really holds on in the corners and the traction control no longer intervenes when taking off at the traffic lights like the original Nexens did.
The Optima really shines on the freeway. At 110km/h it ticks over at around 1400-1500rpm, at 130km/h around 1800 rpm.
On a recent trip to Byron Bay with a fully loaded car and three passengers it returned 7.4L/100km. It was also able to do the trip from Sydney on less than one tank of fuel. Around town it averages around 11.5L/100km. Not stellar fuel economy, but for a car of its size it's acceptable; after all, the Optima is not much smaller than a Holden Commodore.
There isn't really anything about this car that I don't like. However, while the overall ownership experience has been positive, I have had a few minor issues with the car.
At around three years old the sat-nav failed and a new unit had to be fitted. The panoramic sunroof also developed a rattle which fortunately was an easy fix and just required the hex bolts for the sunroof rails to be retightened. While these issues were aggravating at the time, they were both covered under warranty and rectified quickly and with no fuss by my local Kia dealer.
If you're in the market for a mid-sized sedan, then you're spoilt for choice. While there are more established rivals such as the Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6, Toyota Camry, Subaru Liberty, Volkswagen Passat, Hyundai Sonata et cetera, few can match the Optima's lengthy list of standard equipment and class leading warranty.
Not to mention if you're shopping the used car market you can get a fully loaded Optima Platinum for around the same price as an entry-level version of the above cars.
I can go two weeks at a time without seeing another Optima on the road, and that's a damn shame. The Optima is an extremely under-rated car.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with this car. I always look forward to driving it, and look forward to many more years with it. Based on my overall positive experience with my Optima I would definitely buy another Kia again, perhaps a Stinger GT next time!