The problem with the Kia Optima this month is that it hasnít been a problem at all. This is good news for the Diesel Car fleet, but bad news when you need something juicy to report on. So instead, Iíll just have to reassure you that itís business as usual. For our Optima that means it has been eating up the miles and keeping me entertained when the roads get twisty. Iíve also been thoroughly enjoying the excellent Harmon Kardon sound system, which Iím sure Iíve mentioned once or twice in previous instalments. No, the biggest risk this month is me repeating myself, or accusations Iím sponsored by Kia, with neither being ideal.
It hasnít all been plain sailing, and the twin-clutch automatic gearbox fitted to the Optima has annoyed me from day one, with its somewhat frustrating habits and tendencies. It has also bugged me that for reasons known only to the powers that be within Kia, the GT-Line S specification Optima is only available with this gearbox, even though thereís a manual option for lower 2 and 3 trim levels. For me, the sporting aspirations of the GT-Line S should suit a manual gearbox perfectly. This decision to fit the automatic by default, led me to assume the manual must be so poor as to offer no sporting advantage at all. But how wrong I was. After a ten-minute drive in a manual Optima, Iím now even more puzzled, because it has a nice weight and taut movements up and down the gears. Only the selection of reverse proved a let down, reminding me of putting an old Peugeot into first gear and the impending risk of receiving a lawsuit from the front passenger as I grope their leg.
The Kia spent ten days in Northern Ireland this month, where I was busy working. It transpired that this wasnít an enviable task, spending most days driving back and forth from east to west, as I strived to hit deadlines and exist on not nearly enough sleep. Despite all of this, the Kia performed perfectly and never missed a beat. On the return ferry to Holyhead, a white, and thoroughly blinged up, BMW X5 was shoehorned next to the Optima, and the men who hopped out of it instantly fixed their gaze on the Kia. ìWhat car is that, Iíve not seen one beforeî was their opening gambit. Like me, they were full of praise for its stylish design, but they were somewhat less impressed when I told them the size of its engine. Size isnít everything, but in this case I think I have to agree with the friendly Irish men that 1.7-litres isn’t enough. The Optima Sportswagon probably could be enhanced with a bigger engine, even if their own taste in cars was highly questionable.
Date arrived 9th December 2016
Fuel economy 61.4mpg (combined) 41.7mpg (on test)
The Optima is absolutely ideal for eating up miles, and relishes the task.
It bugs me that the graphics used in the main infotainment screen and the trip computer don’t match.