The new Kia Optima saloon, due to appear in the flesh at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, has been revealed. The Toyota Avensis rival has grown in size and gets an evolutionary exterior design, as well as a more upmarket interior and revised chassis.
Although at first glance you might have thought this was just a facelift, Kia claims the exterior design is all-new. The body has marginally grown in size compared to the previous car, with 10mm added to the wheelbase and height, and a 25mm increase in width.
The styling builds on the strengths of the previous model, with a redesigned front face, wraparound headlamps and a more muscular front bumper. The side and rear profiles are very similar, but a more sculpted rear LED light design and tweaked bumper give the rear a fresher look. The torsional rigidity of the bodyshell has also now improved by 50 per cent thanks to use of high-strength steel.
Inside, changes are slightly more evident – the dash has been redesigned with an upper ‘display’ zone with the central touchscreen, and a lower ‘control’ zone with individual banks of buttons. More upmarket materials also feature, while the 8-inch touchscreen is new and features Kia’s real-time connected services.
Although the exterior length only grows by 10mm, redesigned seats mean rear passengers actually enjoy 25mm more legroom. Head and shoulder room is also marginally improved, while rear passengers get a separate heater and pull-up sun shades.
The Optima gets the usual suite of active safety features including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection and rear-cross traffic alert. Lane keep assist is also available, while the autonomous emergency braking has been improved to offer a short range ‘city’ radar for low speed obstacles, and a longer range ‘urban’ radar for speeds up to 50mph.
Although the chassis underneath isn’t entirely new, Kia claims it has extensively fettled with it to improve ride and handling, with upgraded suspension all-round. A new electric steering rack also features, while adaptive dampers can be specified for the first time. The firm has also worked on NVH levels, improving both wind and road noise.
Like the old car, the new Optima is available only with a 1.7-litre diesel engine at launch, but it’s apparently been vastly improved. Power is only up by 5bhp to 139bhp, and torque up to 340Nm, but the Korean firm claims it’s more responsive low-down and revs more cleanly. CO2 emissions are also down by 14g/km to 110g/km.
No petrol engine will be offered in the UK initially, although Kia promises we’ll see a plug-in hybrid option available in 2016 after an estate variant makes its first debut in the middle of next year.
See all the latest news from Frankfurt on our comprehensive round-up page.