So, Iím still smiling after my last drive in the Optima Sportswagon; one of those journeys where you take a step back and just enjoy where you are, what youíre doing and indeed what youíre doing it in. In this scenario, it was a drive back from the North East, spirits were high anyway after a successful shoot ñ despite spending most of it being thrown around in the back of a pick-up truck on a mixture of off-road routes and old tank roads. So as I write this, there is not one inch of me, or camera, spared from mud and dust. I digress; spirits were high, the spring sunshine warming and lifting, the panoramic sunroof open letting in the nicest of breezes and the final touch, some newly discovered music streaming through the carís Bluetooth and pleasing my ears courtesy of the marvellous 490-watt Harman Kardon sound system ñ though confusingly, and disappointingly the saloon gets 590 watts of power and an extra two speakers, which the Sportswagon misses out on!
So yes, Iíve gone around the houses, but the long and short of it is, I had an awesome drive back and it was thanks to the Optima, some of it aided by Mother Nature, but mostly because of the way this big estate car drives. Iíve mentioned before that itís very engaging to steer and has been set up to be a driverís car. Okay, I doubt that BMW are worried, and theyíre unlikely to lose many 3 Series Touring sales because of the Optima, but if you point the Optima somewhere, it goes there, nice and flatly. Sweeping bends havenít been quite so enjoyable for a while. Some of this could have something to do with the Head of Vehicle Testing, who is one Albert Biermann of BMW M Sport fame. He was poached by the Koreans to oversee all future Hyundai and Kia models and I like to think that this is one of the reasons why my Optima is so pleasurable to pilot.
I also watched a couple of YouTube reviews on the Optima Sportswagon the other night, and there might have been some gin involved. Itís usually a big no for me, as I want to get a non-biased and clear feel for the car myself and draw my own conclusions. However, as Iíve managed to cover nearly 8,000 miles in two and a half months, my opinions of the car are well rounded, so I was curious to see if other motoring professionals on YouTube and I were on the same page. Firstly, and disappointingly, the search results werenít awash with Sportswagon reviews, it seems the web-based ñ at least ñ journalists have given the car the cold shoulder, which is a shame given how smart and appealing the Optima is compared with the rivals Iíve encountered. I did manage to find a couple of reviews, however, and happily they were mostly in agreement with my thoughts. It would seem that Iím not alone in not entirely warming to the automatic transmission, and that everyone that experiences the Harman Kardon sound system thinks itís fantastic. Maybe I should start my own YouTube channel?
Date arrived 9th December 2016
Fuel economy 61.4mpg (combined) 43.9mpg (on test)
A USB point and a 12v socket for happy and content rear passengers.
Unusually, the handbrake doesn’t automatically engage when the car is turned off.