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New York show: Kia optimises Optima

New in New York: Kia’s next Optima is larger but lighter thanks to the use of more modern materials, including a carbon-fibre sunroof support frame.

Next-gen Kia Optima unveiled but Aus-bound Turbo drops power

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Kia logo2 Apr 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

KIA has pulled the covers from its fourth-generation Optima sedan at the New York motor show, revealing a sharpened look and three updated powertrains, including the 2.0-litre turbo, which is due to arrive on Australian shores for the first time later in the year.

Like other forced-induction Kia engines, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder has been available in other global regions for some time, but in a bid to attract more performance-focused shoppers, Kia will air the next-gen Turbo Down Under in 2015.

While the Turbo brings the most power to the Australian range, the new version of the GDI 2.0-litre engine has dropped a notable 20kW over its United States predecessor – a detuning that reduces fuel consumption, according to Kia.

Exact power figures for the Australian-spec car are yet to be released and, while local higher octane-rated fuel will likely yield a greater power output over American-tested vehicles, Kia says a new twin-scroll turbocharger reduces turbo-lag and boosts drivability, despite the slight kilowatt shed.

At the launch of the next-generation Optima, Kia Motors Australia media and corporate communications manager Kevin Hepworth told GoAuto the Australian Turbo would be the local favourite, appealing to customers that are willing to ignore brand stereotypes.

“Somebody who would enjoy a mix of sophistication and performance and can look past badge snobbery to get the best of what they are looking for in the most affordable package,” he said.

Further afield, Kia Motors America executive vice president of sales and marketing Michael Sprague said the new range would continue the Optima formula in markets such as the United States, where the model sells strongly.

“The all-new Optima retains the signature personality of its predecessor, but we’ve literally improved everything, providing more space, better ride and handling, more technology and greater refinement,” he said.

While Kia is confident the new Optima will fare well worldwide, its 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre engines have had a slight reduction in power.

US versions of the Kia Optima Turbo will have 184kW and 353Nm of torque – a reduction of 20kW and 16Nm over the previous American-spec car, but torque now sits more usefully down the rev range at 1350 rpm.

Australian Optima drivers will be familiar with the naturally aspirated 2.4-litre GDI four-cylinder engine, which will be available alongside the Turbo version, producing 138kW and 241Nm – a 10kW and 9Nm reduction over the outgoing version – another power reduction in favour of frugality.

In previous trim, the Australian Optima 2.4-litre engine returned fuel-consumption of 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres.

Although it is unlikely to make it Down Under, a smaller 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engine pumping out 133kW and 264Nm will be available in other markets.

The larger four-cylinder engines are coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission, while the baby four-pot gets a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission — a first for Kia.

Kia will also re-launch a hybrid version, which combines the 2.4-with a mild hybrid system to reduce fuel consumption, but in the absence of Australian incentives to encourage green car ownership, the Korean car-maker will not bring the variant here.

Fuel consumption and acceleration figures were not released with the new Optima’s unveiling but further details including Australian pricing and exact specification levels are expected closer to the car’s arrival in about November this year.

American Kia customers will have a choice of five Optima versions starting with the entry-level LX and LX Turbo, mid range EX and EX Turbo and the top of the range SXL.

Interior space has been boosted in almost all directions thanks to a wheelbase stretched by 10mm, and an increase to width by 25mm.

Despite the swollen dimensions, Kia says handling has been improved with a variety of chassis developments including completely redesigned suspension geometry, the use of more high-tensile steels and beefed-up sub-frame and suspension bushings, resulting in a stiffer, more rewarding and safer Optima.

The chassis refinements have also increased ride quality, while a panoramic sunroof is housed in a lightweight carbon-fibre support frame, reducing overall weight and the centre of gravity – another first for the company.

Greater use of stamped panels and structural adhesives have also had beneficial effects to torsional rigidity and crash protection for occupants.

Passengers benefit from more than just improved safety with a greater presence of soft-touch materials throughout the cabin, stitched fabric coverings on dashboard and other surfaces, while metallic trims on the more expansive surfaces boost the interior quality feel, says Kia.

Comfort is further boosted with stiffer seat frames which are now available with heating and cooling, more adjustment for drive and front passenger, while upholstery is leather, Nappa leather or cloth depending on the specification level.

A raft of new technology graces the new Optima range increasing connectivity, entertainment, safety and comfort for all occupants.

Kia is using the new Optima as its pilot model to introduce Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to its range allowing smartphone applications to carry over from occupant’s phones to the car.

Functions are displayed though an 8.0-inch touchscreen display in the dash, while the numerous connected devices can be kept topped up by two high-output USB chargers.

A six-speaker sound system is fitted as standard or a more impressive Clari-Fi 630 Watt 14-speaker system by Infinity is available as an option.

All new Optimas have a reversing camera as standard, while SX and SXL variants have a 360 degree version. Active cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert and autonomous emergency braking are also available to boost safety systems along with adaptive Xenon headlights.

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