"The power to surprise".
That's Kia's slogan. Maybe five to 10 years ago, but these days I think they are better than that. We now expect good cars out of Korea, and they regularly deliver. My Optima is no exception.
I'm one of the few people it would seem that still seeks out a medium/large family sedan. Traditionally being a Falcon driver, I've sought to adjust my buying habits to coincide with the demise of Australian manufacturing. What else is out there for me? I cross-shopped the Optima with the Mazda 6, Ford Mondeo, Subaru Liberty and Toyota Camry. The decision was easier than I expected.
The Optima Gt is a "full house", pretty much every modern convenience you could ask for. Combined with lovely red leather, panoramic sunroof and stonking harman/kardon stereo, it's a very nice place to be.
The first thing to really grab me was just how quiet it was on the road. Really a class above the Mazda 6 in particular. The turbo four-cylinder is really punchy in the mid-range. A clear point of difference from its naturally aspirated counterparts. I find it anything but sluggish, and perfect for those who want a sedan with a bit of oomph. Sport mode certainly adds to this by firming up the steering and sharpening throttle response.
Ride comfort is excellent, but I wouldn't expect it to be a track day star. It doesn't really like being chucked into a corner. Standard Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres are a fantastic addition by Kia and are far better than some of the rubbish Nexen and Kuhmo tyres found on other Kias.
I've owned many cars over the years, liking to turn them over every three to five years. (Yes, I'm one of them!) and finding negatives on this car is difficult, but there are a few, and one particular elephant in the room.
For those who don't know, service intervals are every six months or 7500km. That's right. This is no joke! This is pretty much unprecedented. Now, I pretty much do 15,000km a year and don't really have an issue servicing my car twice a year, but this would be a deal breaker for many.
Fuel economy for my daily commute works out to be 8.8-9.0L/100km. This has been a criticism of the Hyundai/Kia 2.0-litre turbo. I'd guess this would be one to two litres more than say, the Mazda, but this is a price I'd happily pay for the turbo's extra grunt.
No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is also perplexing seeing every other Kia, including much cheaper models have it. RRP for the GT would also appear to be high, but who pays anywhere near RRP anyway?
Would I buy one again. Absolutely! For all those Falcon/Commodore fans still grieving over the loss of local manufacturing, Kia has everything you need. If not the new guy in town Stinger, then the chronically underrated and unappreciated Optima. Just need to get past the badge.
"The power to surprise"? Yes indeed. Just get out and drive one. You won't be disappointed.