What’s that cliche about not appreciating what youíve got until itís gone? Well I know exactly how that feels, as I spent five days without my Optima this month. And those days without my faithful companion were tough. Yes it was service time, and while you may think that five days to complete a simple service is excessive, you can blame the intervention of a bank holiday for that. All was not lost, though, I was left with a courtesy car in the shape of a top-specification KX-5 Sportage. Here at Diesel Car we rate the Sportage highly, and it was my first opportunity to have a go. Itís always good to drive a wide array of different vehicles, for comparison purposes, and this SUV featured four-wheel-drive, plus it had a larger 2.0-litre engine, compared to the 1.7-litre in my Optima.
Before I even got to the end of the road, I conceded that despite being endowed with engaging handling and eager driving manners, the steering on my Optima is too light and lacks weight. The Sportage steals the show in this department, though my Sportswagon delivers all the feedback that I desire, and crucially does the job of reacting well to steering inputs. And this was tested out to the extreme just a few weeks ago, when I was driving through Birmingham and a dozy SUV owner failed to look in their mirrors before manoeuvring into my path when their lane came to an end. Only a conveniently-placed bus lane provided refuge in that split-second moment of ëuh ohí, or words vaguely similar to those, with the quick reactions of man and machine working in perfect harmony to avoid a large SUV-shaped dent in the side of the Optima.
But back to the service and pleasingly there isnít much to report. Thatís good for Kia, but bad on me for trying to find some dirt to dish on how the Optima couldnít manage 20,000 miles without falling apart. Since arriving on the fleet just 10 months ago, it has completed the equivalent of two yearsí worth of motoring, and all that needed attention was fresh oil and new fuel, oil and pollen filters. Other than that, just a check of the levels, brake pads and wipers, and all was alright. Pretty good I reckon. Kia also took the opportunity to switch the two front tyres, and although the Michelin Pilot Sports still had a couple of millimetres of tread left on them, at least, they had clearly seen better days. So it was off with the old and on with the new, restoring the grippiness that I enjoyed when the car first arrived. Given the fact that the Optima practically encourages the driver to tackle corners in a spirited fashion, and that a colleague that is running a similar Optima Sportswagon only managed 14,000 miles out of a set of front tyres, Iím pretty chuffed that mine managed to last until over 22,000 miles had been covered.
Date arrived 9th December 2016
Fuel economy 61.4mpg (combined) 43.9mpg (on test)
New tyres means no more sliding around corners in the wet.
A drive in the Sportage showed up a lack of weight in the Optima’s steering.