This is what my life has been missing. An estate car. On the minimalist/maximalist scale, I naturally veer towards the latter, with an inbuilt tendency to travel with a collection of ‘just in case’ kit. That probably makes me a perfect candidate for partnership with an estate car. Or better still, a Sportswagon, in trendy modern motoring parlance. More than six months in Kiaís Optima saloon makes me the perfect test companion for this estate edition, but this time around I opted for the silky seven-speed twin-clutch automatic version.
I am by no means alone in my enthusiasm for an estate. It’s a rather British habit. We Brits are well known for our love affair with estate cars, which are more popular here than just about anywhere else in Europe. Although their numbers have been affected by the burgeoning enthusiasm for SUVs, you still see plenty of them on the roads. They’re just so pleasingly practical.
Not many are quite as handsome as this one, though. Maybe I’m a bit biased, with the keys to the Optima Sportswagon safely domiciled in my care, but I reckon it’s a fine looker, nicely proportioned and sleekly styled. The lengthened roofline gives it visual movement even when stationary, and a pleasing flow to the body shape. The estate also has the practical advantage of being equipped with a rear screen wiper, which is something the Optima saloon does annoyingly lack.
The Optima Sportswagon is the same length and width as the Optima saloon, but with its longer roofline and estate configuration, it has 42 litres more boot space. There is also better access to the boot, with a tailgate instead of a boot-lid. Because ours is a top-spec GT-Line S model, it is lavishly equipped, with a kit list that includes a power operated tailgate that you can open remotely via the key fob. Hooray for that, a boon for ease of access when you have a load to install in the back.
Its arrival in early December was a perfect pre-Christmas companion for those last-minute shopping trips, and has now passed the magic 1,000-mile mark. A need for some new furniture took us on a trek into Essex and the marvellous retail maze that is Ikea. Vast flat-pack cartons were easily absorbed into the Optima’s cavernous back, and we drove home hugely grateful for the convenience of an estate car’s van-like handiness. Then this week’s mission was to deliver a vast quantity of old motoring magazines that have been occupying space in a spare room, and deliver them to a colleague who tutors journalism students at Coventry University. It looked like far too much bulk for the Kia estate to accommodate, but it swallowed the lot, hooray.
As well as having an extensive boot, the Sportswagon has something else that it surprisingly sizeable. Its handbook. It has to be one of the fattest car manuals I have ever seen, and ahead of next month’s report I plan to both measure and weigh it, as well as delve inside to discover what’s in there that takes up so much space. I’ll report back, for sure.
Meanwhile, in this chilly mid-winter, I’m enjoying the car’s very generous kit list that includes both seat heaters for front and rear occupants, as well as a heated steering wheel, to keep things really toasty inside when the outside temperature is hovering around zero. It was a bit disappointing, though, that the car really seemed to struggle when we had a sudden snow-fall and the roads were very slithery. One sharp slope near home almost confounded it, and the tyres really struggled for grip.
Happily the shortest day is receding in the rear view mirror and spring can’t be too far away. Time to enjoy some longer trips in more clement weather!
Arrived: 9th December 2016
Mileage: 1,004 miles
Fuel Consumption: Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 54.3/67.3/61.4mpg Economy (on test) 48.6mpg
That stonking big boot and estate car practicality, with room for just about anything you might want to carry.
Some may baulk at the £30k price tag, however, there’s a long list of standard kit for the money.