Car design seems to be going through something of a honeyed phase at the moment, to my eye at least. During a few slow trips on the coagulated car park that is the M25 over recent days, I have been sitting snugly in the Optima’s very comfy driving seat and appraising the body styles of the traffic around me. I reckon it’s a bit of an eye feast compared with a few years back.
Thank goodness we have emerged from the era when so many cars tended to look unhappily alike, with silhouettes honed in wind tunnels for aerodynamic efficiency, rather than individual identity. Now the traffic comes in a wonderfully rich variety of shapes, and in particular, with front end styling that is mostly immediately distinguishable as whatever the make may be.
Some manufacturers seem to be cleverer than others at what designers used to call ‘strong DRGs’ ñ style-speak for ‘down-the-road graphics’. Driving the Optima for the past few months, I’ve inevitably been aware of other Kias on the road. They’re easy to spot for their tiger-nose front grilles, the signature look created by the company’s design chief Peter Schreyer. On some Kia models the tiger nose is a bit more bunched up than on others, but it’s always distinctive. It works particularly well on the Optima, stretched wide between the sleek headlights, right across the front of the car, and with the grille studded with silvery little diamond shapes. It gives a purposeful, slightly predatory look to the Optima’s face. It’s a handsome car, enhanced by wheels with a design like rotating shards of glass. When I defect to other cars for first drive or twin test drive reports, the Optima is always nice to come back to. It is pleasingly well-proportioned and elegant, and I love the way that kink in the front of the roof above the windscreen echoes the upper edge of the grille. It’s a nice touch.
With winter biting, it’s particularly pleasing that the big Kia is such a comfort zone. There’s plenty of leg-stretch room all round in the cabin, the seats are intelligently shaped for grippy support on the bends and well-cushioned comfort, and the combination of both driving seat and steering wheel heating is bliss on a cold day.
One thing that didn’t trouble me through the summer and mild autumn, but has become a bit of an irritation on rainy winter days, is the rear screen that has no means of cleaning it. This is common to most saloon cars, which their makers assume not to need a rear wiper, like a hatchback or estate car usually has. But I crave a rear wiper, because a blurry rear view can be very irksome on a dark, wet mid-winter night. Roll on spring!
Date arrived: 28th May 2016
Mileage to date: 3,775
Fuel consumption: 67.3mpg (combined) 42.6mpg (on test)
Nobody really needs a heated steering wheel, but on a cold day it’s a real treat.
The lack of a rear wiper is sometimes irksome when the glass is obscured by rain.