What's the used Kia Optima PHEV saloon like?
Ordinarily, a large executive car only really stands out among its peers if it has a premium badge on it. Unfortunately, the Kia Optima didn’t quite have the key ring cachet of its German rivals when new, so tended to be overlooked. As a used purchase, however, things start to look a little more promising. Especially if you buy a two-year-old car using Kia’s approved used scheme that tops the warranty back up to seven years – a point where most of its rivals only have one year left. But is this a good enough reason to pick an Optima over its used alternatives?
Under the bonnet is a 154bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 67bhp electric motor. When both work together, performance is fairly brisk given the size and weight of the Optima. However, the main reason for the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) system is its electric range: on a full charge, you can get up to 33 miles. Charging times range from four to six hours from a standard three-pin plug, or two to three hours from a dedicated wall box. If you drive mainly on battery power, you should see some high fuel-economy numbers. Unfortunately, even when you select Eco mode for electric power only, the engine will kick in promptly when a turn of speed is needed.
In corners, the Optima grips well, but the extra weight of the batteries blunts the handling. The steering is vague and it’s not as engaging to drive, and the feel of the brake pedal itself can take some getting used to due to its regenerative braking. Ride quality is also a mixed bag because at low speeds across broken town roads, the Optima fidgets and thuds away, but if you swap suburban streets for the motorway, it works better, feeling more settled and comfortable.
But the area in which the Optima really scores is in space. There’s loads of it up front and the rear is pretty good, too, with plenty of leg and head room for six-footers and taller; even three abreast will be happy for most journeys. Unlike the estate version, the additional batteries compromise boot space of the saloon, which could be a problem if you need to transport a child’s pushchair or a set of golf clubs.
The interior materials vary from slightly too scratchy black plastic to a pleasing mix of soft-touch ones. Drivers will be happy, with a multi-adjustable driving position and a logical and easy-to-use dashboard layout. You get a cracking infotainment system, too, with a screen that’s responsive and has easy to navigate menus.