What's the used Kia Optima estate like?
It’s hard to believe but it wasn’t so long ago that Kia was a relatively unknown brand in the UK.
However, its class-leading seven-year warranty and a recent line-up of sharply styled hatchbacks and neat-looking SUVs have ensured Kia now has a regular place in the best sellers list. The Optima is Kia's entry in the executive saloon class, where it fights competitors such as the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb.
On the road, the Optima SW acquits itself well. The 1.7 diesel grumbles away loudly and never fully quietens down even when warm; there’s plenty of clatter if you stretch it beyond the mid-range. Even though a Superb 2.0 TDI 150 isn’t whisper-quiet, either, it’s less raucous than the Optima SW. And it’s not just the way it sounds, because you feel a fair amount of vibration sent back through the controls as well. The engine's 139bhp looks modest next to that in an equivalent Superb or Mondeo and it has a much narrower performance window. So while the unit picks up smartly from just below 2000rpm, by 3000rpm – just when you think it’s hit its stride – the oomph tails off sharply. The petrol Optima SWs are smoother, but the 2.0 T-GDi suffers at the pumps, while the hybrid version feels respectably brisk around town but a little sluggish at higher speeds. In theory, the hybrid's fuel economy depends on how far you go and how you use it, but you’re unlikely to see close to Kia's claimed figures; in our hands, around 40mpg is a more realistic figure.
The Optima SW isn't as engaging to drive as its rivals. Its steering is vague around the straight ahead, and both the Superb and Mondeo are less wallowy, steer more intuitively and are, as a consequence, more pleasant to drive over a distance. Ride quality in the Optima SW is also a mixed bag. At low speeds across broken town roads, it fidgets and thuds away, but if you swap suburban streets for the motorway it works better, feeling rather more settled and comfortable.
But the area in which the Optima SW really scores is in space. There’s loads up front and the rear is enormous, with plenty of leg and head room for anyone six feet or taller, and three abreast will be happy for most journeys. Equally impressive is the boot; although not as big as the magnificent Skoda Superb’s, it's huge and provides good access, a low boot floor and no lip at the entrance.