Optimal blend of value and features
Kia Optima K5 2.4L
Engine: 2,359cc inline-4
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Max power: 180hp @ 6,000 rpm
Max torque: 231Nm @ 4,000 rpm
Top speed: 210kmh
CO2 emission: 197g/km
Average OMV: $24,000
Price: $158,999 (with COE)
Distributor: Cycle & Carriage Kia, 6427-8888
THREE years after it appeared on the local automotive scene, the Kia Optima K5 has been refreshed, and its extensive list of standard equipment upgraded.
The K5, which the Korean carmaker calls a sports sedan, bears the familiar "tiger face" of recent Kia models. This face has since been updated with new-look headlamps incorporating LED daytime running lights, and flanked by a cluster of four-point LED fog lamps. At the back, new tail lamps pair up with the dual exhausts in the new rear diffuser.
Inside, the more ergonomic interior has a wider range of convenience and safety features. One of these is Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist. If the turn indicator is used when there is another vehicle just behind in the next lane, an audio warning sounds.
Other new features include a lovely eight-speaker Infinity sound system, the so-called D-shaped multi-function steering wheel with "drive mode", a speed limiter, an auto-hold function, front and rear parking sensors and larger disc brakes.
The flat-bottomed steering wheel is new and offers a selection of driving modes - eco, normal and sport - at the press of a button, while the bigger brakes have more bite for increased confidence.
This breathtaking array of features in what is an affordably priced executive saloon continues to be the most impressive aspect of the Optima.
There is the usual panoramic sunroof, comprising an electric sunroof in front and fixed moon roof behind, each with its own powered sunblind, as well as standard equipment not always found in similar-sized European luxury models, such as ventilated front seats and the electric parking brake's auto-hold function.
All this in a stylish and roomy package that doesn't cost more than a Japanese equivalent. True, the faux aluminium steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifts look flimsy, but they do the job perfectly.
Another complaint is the lack of electronic-display real estate. The centre touchscreen is not much bigger than an iPhone 5, but twice as far away as you would normally use it. That, and the small, multi-function display in the instrument cluster mean that clarity is not one of the K5's manifold attributes.
The 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is the only option, now that the erstwhile 2.0-litre version has lost its appeal in this era of high certificate-of-entitlement premiums. The naturally aspirated unit is relatively large but has merely adequate performance. It is saved only by the responsive six-speed automatic gearbox, which, when changed manually, is satisfyingly direct.
Running on new 18-inch alloy wheels, the big Optima K5 offers a smooth and composed drive. It may not be a fun drive, but it does give a comfortable ride with its long 2,795mm wheelbase. Few cars possess this blend of spaciousness, stylishness and equipment at this price. Being great value for money has to be this attractive Kia's best feature.