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Facelifted Kia Optima breaks cover

Grille of the tiger: Kia’s signature tiger-nose front grille has a new look following the Optima facelift, with it now featuring a vertical-slat insert.

Kia gives Optima mid-sizer a nip and tuck ahead of early Q2 launch

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Kia logo29 Jan 2018

KIA has revealed the facelifted Optima ahead of its Australian launch in the early second quarter this year, with the mid-size sedan gaining a redesigned front and rear end, revised interior trim and new driver-assist technologies.

Shown in Korean-market K5 form last week, the new-look Optima’s front end features a vertical-slat tiger-nose grille insert flanked by redesigned LED headlights with daytime running lights (DRLs), while the bumper has been re-profiled and now incorporates two opposing horizontal strips of LED foglights.

At the rear, overhauled LED tail-lights, relocated reflectors and a more aggressive diffuser headline, while new-design 18-inch alloy wheels and chrome-accented side skirts round out the exterior changes.

Upgrades are less noticeable inside, but the steering wheel, LED ambient lighting, quilted leather upholstery option, additional metallic treatments and the latest version of Kia’s infotainment system are new.

Available advanced driver-assist equipment expands to include highway assist, which uses the adaptive cruise control and lane support systems to allow semi-autonomous driving where applicable. A 360-degree camera is also now offered, an improvement over the current reversing camera.

This Optima refresh is timely given the impact that the recently launched Stinger sports sedan is already having on the model’s sales performance.

Specifically, Optima took a significant hit last year, with 727 examples sold to the end of 2017, representing a 46.5 per cent decrease over the 1358 registrations made in 2016.

The Kia placed 10th in the sub-$60,000 mid-size passenger-car segment last year, trailing the Toyota Camry (23,620 units), Mazda6 (3647), Ford Mondeo (2959), Volkswagen Passat (2463), Subaru Liberty (2023), Hyundai Sonata (968) and Hyundai i40 (888).

As previously reported, Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) remains committed to the Optima despite the popularity of family-orientated SUVs but will look at repositioning the mid-sizer when the update arrives.

Currently, the Optima is available in two grades – the entry-level Si priced from $34,490 before on-road costs and the flagship GT at $44,490.

This two-pronged range is likely to continue with a pair of four-cylinder petrol engines, including a 138kW/241Nm 2.4-litre GDi naturally aspirated powertrain in the Si and a 180kW/350Nm 2.0-litre T-GDi turbocharged unit in the GT. Both powerplants send drive to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

Kia also outed the cosmetically enhanced Rio GT-Line last week, but doubts have already been cast over the sporty-looking light hatch’s prospects Down Under.

When questioned if the GT-Line would launch in Australia, KMAu general manager of media and corporate communications Kevin Hepworth replied: “I wouldn't think so considering it doesn’t add a lot to the (Rio) line-up.”

Just like other GT-Line variants, the Rio picks up a sportier styling package that extends to assertive bumpers with four-point ‘ice cube’ LED foglights up front, side skirt extensions, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED tail-lights, dual exhaust tips and various gloss-black highlights.

Inside, black cloth leather-accented seats with grey stitching, a flat-bottom GT steering wheel, metallic treatments and carbon-fibre-style dashboard trim are prominent.

The Rio GT-Line does not usher in a more powerful engine option, instead using the existing three-tier powetrain range available overseas.

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