Having been a loyal Ford customer and the owner of six XR6 Falcons in a row, I thought it was time to try another brand as I could no longer buy another new XR6.
After much online research, I decided on a Kia Optima GT. After finding a suitable colour, I did a deal over the phone and took delivery a couple of days later. First impressions were good: it's quite a looker in the flesh, and moving inside l was very impressed with the interior, the comfy seats, fabulous sound system and plenty of room.
Being a real technophobe, I have found it very daunting learning how to use all the new bells and whistles in this car. It certainly is stacked with an amazing amount of technology, but to me the absence of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay is a glaring omission. I didn't do my research properly and didn't realise the car wasn't equipped with it until after I'd paid for it. It was my fault this happened, but I'm disappointed I won't be able to use the navigation on my smartphone, as it is much better to use than the standard sat-nav in the car. I'm sure I will get used to it though.
As for driving the car, I find it very smooth riding around town, it soaks up bumps nicely without too much jarring or crashing, and is a very nice, quiet place to be. One thing I do not like at all is the engine noise. It makes a loud note like it's some kind of sports car, which compared to the XR6 it certainly isn't. I find the noise annoying and completely out of character with the rest of the car. To me it sounds a bit like an older-model Subaru WRX.
I would have been very surprised if the Optima matched the XR6's ability to eat up kilometres at high speeds with consummate ease over the vast array of roads, from good surfaces to horrible, which the Falcon took in its stride. I find it cruises okay until you push it harder on poorer roads, where it starts to feel a bit hairy compared to the Falcon.
The biggest letdown for me is the difference in the steering feel between the two cars. The XR6 had a wonderful weighty feel to it, which always made me feel connected to the road in a confidence-inspiring manner, no matter what the road was like. In comparison, the Optima's steering feels vague and woolly, with no feedback or sense of what the front wheels are doing.
I hope it grows on me and I get used to it, but at this stage I'm very disappointed in the feel of the steering. I think it would be quite unpleasant in wet conditions.
Overall, it's quite a nice car with good looks, a nice interior, it's pleasant enough to tootle around town in, and seems well put together. However, the aforementioned gripes kill it for me, and I will not be keeping this car for long. I will never, ever buy another car on price or without taking it for a thorough test drive again. I should have known better.
If they still made XR6 Falcons, I would buy another one in a heartbeat.