Kia know very well how to build SUV’s and compact cars. But the middle class wasn’t their cup of tea. Just look at the Magentis. Few people in Europe liked that design. This new Optima though is specally designed to please Europeans. That’s why we even dare to compare it with the popular VW Passat. Very popular. I used to be an account manager, and guess what car I drove… If I still was an account manager today, I’d probably be driving this car. Like it or not, this is the benchmark. A perfect car for the first time at your new girl’s parents. They’ll like you. But she won’t. The Optima looks great, from the outside and the inside. The wooden panels and shiny rings around the clocks are a bit too much. It is loaded: lane departure warning, parking assistance, reverse camera, it all comes standard. Very good. The Passat is not as loaded, the finishing and materials are better though. It looks more quiet. And classy, with aluminium and that clock. It reminds me a bit of a Phaeton. But this is great, too. In the front and the trunk it is a bit smaller than the Passat. But in the back, it gets close to the Superb. Loads of legspace thanks to a wheelbase of 2.8 meters. Only the Ford Modeo has a longer wheelbase. At the moment, there is only a 1.7-liter diesel engine. Later this year, there will be a hybrid version. This engine has 136 HP. Not too much, but you get around just fine. The suspension is comfortable, but not too soft. Sometimes even a bit bumpy. Also because of the standard 18 inch wheels. It is quite understeered, but it hardly hangs in the curves. The steering is like most korean cars: not very sharp, especially in the center position. But alltogether, this car feels more european than any middle sized Kia ever did. Don’t tell Maurice, but I really love the looks of his Optima. But what a ridiculous name: Optima. The Passat steers better than the Optima, with more feeling and resistance. The suspension is in fine balance. Not sporty, mostly comfortable but not too much. Just like the looks: a car for the mass. The 140 HP TDI is not a racing engine, but it’s good enough. For the first time, Kia has a serious competitor in the middle class business. Finally a car for us Europeans to like. That goes for the looks and the drive. And don’t forget the equipment and space. This Optima does not remind to the old Kia. But it still can’t beat the Passat. The Passat has slightly better finishing and
powertrain. The steering is better, the suspension better balanced. And VW offers a wide range of engines, unlike Kia so far. True, but there will be a hybrid later. And the pricing of the Kia is very good. .