Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

Kia Optima Review

Kia Optima with the Kia’s ‘Intelligent Stop and Go’ system (ISG)

Kia Optima

Eco Facts

Kia Optima
1.7 CRDi 2 Tech


Model/Engine size:
1.7 CRDi 2 Tech


Fuel economy combined:
57.6 mpg


Green-Car-Guide rating:


Green Car Guide Overview

Kia Optima
is a quality piece of design on both the inside and outside, and it has low emissions, but is that enough to win over company car buyers?

A person’s first impression of a car is based on its appearance and here the Optima scores highly. It could be mistaken for a class above the D-segment; the rear three-quarters area has a look of the last-generation Lexus GS about it, which is no bad thing.

This image of class continues inside, where you’re confronted by a mass of buttons and switches on the dash, steering wheel and doors, and it gives you the feeling that this car has all the equipment you’d ever want, including heated seats with electric adjustment and memory; satnav; reversing camera; cruise control; Bluetooth phone connection; and a high-end stereo.

Despite the presence of lots of buttons, the majority are well laid out and easy to reach, and access to controls for the stereo and climate functions are helped by the central dash area being angled towards the driver.

Kia Optima kia-optima-002.jpg

Kia Optima
1.7 CRDi 2 Tech Interior

The interior looks well designed, with quality materials, and it’s a comfortable place to be, with decent amounts of room in the rear and a large boot. There are Aux and USB sockets at the back of the storage area behind the gear lever and under the climate controls, and these sockets may not be hidden away, but at least they’re practical to access.

So far, so good, but it’s the substance underneath the styling that really counts, and although relatively efficient, the powertrain isn’t as special as the Optima’s appearance may lead you to expect.

Kia Optima dashboard kia-optima-004.jpg

Kia Optima
Road Test

The 1.7-litre diesel engine is mated to a six-speed manual box and it features Kia’s ‘Intelligent Stop and Go’ system (ISG). The engine is fairly noisy at tickover and under acceleration, resulting in it not feeling particularly refined.

If Kia is aiming this car at the fleet market then you would imagine that the Optima would spend much time on the motorway, so its behaviour in this environment is critical. Although its ride is comfortable, unfortunately it feels like it’s running at quite high revs at motorways speeds, and a by-product of this is that it isn’t as quiet as you’d expect. Also it seems to lack a certain amount of directional stability at speed, one reason for this is the steering, which feels on the light side most of the time but seems to become over-light and loses precision when in the straight-ahead position.

 Kia’s ‘Intelligent Stop and Go’ system (ISG).

In everyday driving the Hancook tyres didn’t seem to offer huge amounts of grip when accelerating out of wet, damp and greasy corners, when wheel spin and torque steer were evident (it does have a decent 325 lb ft of torque), even to the extent that it actually seemed to be difficult to notice much difference between the traction control being on and when it was turned off. We wonder whether the tyres are also a factor in the apparent lack of straight-ahead stability on the motorway.

We averaged 48.6 mpg during our time with the Optima, which is good, but the Volkswagen Passat that we recently tested never dropped below 50 mpg; however we certainly prefer the Optima’s interior to that of the Passat.

The Optima is only available with one engine, the 1.7-litre diesel, however there are a total of seven ‘spec’ choices, ranging from Optima ‘1’ to Optima ‘2 Luxe’, ‘2 Tech’ or ‘3’. The latter three spec levels are available with manual or automatic transmission. The emissions climb from 128 to 158 g/km CO2 with the auto box. Prices start from £19,595 for the ‘1’ and rise to £25,995 for the ‘3’ auto.

Unlike the Hyundai i40 Tourer, there’s no estate version of the Optima.

Kia Optima luggage space


The Kia Optima has high quality design for this class of car, both on the outside and on the inside, and it has lots of equipment
. Unfortunately the powertrain, despite being relatively efficient, is nothing special, and it doesn’t feel as refined as the looks will lead you to expect.

The car’s dynamics also fit into the same category; it seems to have more torque than grip. We’d be interested to test the car on different tyres to see if that made a difference.

So overall the Kia Optima is a good car but that only translates to a
Green-Car-Guide rating of 7 out of 10
. The Optima is apparently selling well in its home market and in the US; we wish it well in the UK bit it seems unlikely to topple the established fleet favourites.

Kia Optima Facts & Figures

Fuel economy extra urban:
64.2 mpg

Fuel economy urban:
49.6 mpg

CO2 emissions:
128 g/km

Green rating:
VED band D – first year £0

1559 Kg

Company car tax liability (2011/12)
: tbc%


Insurance group:

134 bhp

Max speed:
125 mph

10.2 seconds


Paul Clarke


More Kia reviews >>

Read our
Kia Picanto review

Read our
Hyundai i40 Tourer review

Read our
Kia Rio 1.1 CDRi 1 EcoDynamics Road Test car review

Kia Sportage review