Car looks good and drives well

Kia Optima
Kia Optima

Kia’s Mondeo-sized Optima is the most ambitious car the South Korean brand has yet developed.

New from the ground up and with a distinctive trademark ‘Tiger Nose’ front grille, this is a contender that European and Japanese brands are going to have to take very seriously.

It’s one thing of course to make a car look sharp: another entirely to make it drive that way.

Here, the roadgoing experience benefits not just from a wider, longer platform, but also from the weight-saving bodyshell which uses high tensile steels for strength and torsional rigidity.

The diesel option is taken care of with the 1.7-litre VGT (Variable Geometry Turbocharger) unit which puts out 134bhp and develops 330Nm of torque – or as much as 160bhp if that’s not enough. There’s also a 2.0-litre four cylinder CVVL (variable valve lift) petrol unit which delivers 168bhp and 196Nm of torque. Diesel and petrol options are available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed auto.

Kia hopes that the coupe looks belie the five-door flexibility of the car and create a premium image. Here’s a Kia to genuinely get excited about for reasons other than lengthy warranties and dependability. It looks good, should drive well and will be practical to own. Yet it keeps all the reasons that people like this South Korean brand – high equipment, affordable pricing and back-up peace of mind.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

CAR: Kia Optima (right)

PRICES: from £19,595 - on the road

INSURANCE GROUPS: 16-17

CO2 EMISSIONS: [1.7 VGT] 128-122g/km

PERFORMANCE: [1.7 VGT] 0-60mph 10.5s / Max Speed 125mpg

FUEL CONSUMPTION: [1.7 VGT] 57.6 mpg (combined) [

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front & side airbags / full length curtain airbags / ABS / front seat active head rests

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Heightmm 4845/1830/1455.

WHO TO SEE: Bolton Kia, The Linkway, Middlebrook, Horwich