New models - Kia - Optima
First look: Kia relaunches Optima
Kia’s mid-size V6 sedan returns to Australia after taking a break
20 Apr 2004
By BRUCE NEWTON
KIA has relaunched the Optima mid-size sedan onto the Australian market after an absence of more than a year.
And true to Kia Automotive Australia’s cutting edge pricing policy, the car not only returns with a bigger and more powerful engine, it is also cheaper than the old model.
The revised Optima also has more equipment, a fairly significant facelift and suspension revisions.
Kia is hoping all that, combined with a national advertising campaign, will drive the revised Optima to 100 sales initially, with a long term target of 150 sales per month.
The new Optima is priced at $26,950. The old car was launched here in May 2001 at $28,490 and was later dropped to $27,490.
It went off sale in February 2003 and in its last full year on sale in 2002 was averaging about 13.5 sales per month.
In those days it was the most expensive model in the KAA line-up, but that role now falls on the Sorento four-wheel drive.
The original Optima was powered by a 2.5-litre 127kW/229Nm V6 engine mated to a four-speed automatic with semi-manual Tiptronic operation.
The new Optima uses a 2.7-litre V6 that produces 132kW and 245Nm and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with semi-manual Tiptronic operation.
Optima is basically a rebodied version of parent company Hyundai’s mid-sizer, the Sonata, so it is no surprise the 2.7 engine is used in that car, among other Hyundais.
An all-new Sonata is due to be revealed by Hyundai before the end of the year and the next generation Optima should spring from that. However, that is more than 12 months away from local release.
The revised Optima comes in a single specification that includes new comfort features such as cruise control, full leather upholstery, alloy wheels, air-conditioning and CD audio system.
Kia claims the Optima covers the 100km/h dash in 9.5 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 209km/h. Official fuel consumption claims are 10.5 and 7.0L/100km on the city and highway test cycles respectively.
Suspension revisions to the double wishbone front and multi-link rear-end are designed to make the car provide more responsive handling and better ride comfort.
Disc brakes are standard front and rear as is the four-sensor, four-channel ABS anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and TCS electronic traction control provides effortless getaways in difficult conditions.
Completing the mechanical package is power assisted rack-and-pinion steering.
The Optima measures up at 4700mm with a 2700mm wheelbase. Boot space is claimed to be 386 litres.
The Optima is the first of four new Kias that will go onto the market this year. The Cerato small sedan will be launched in June, the Sportage compact 4WD in September and two commercials – the updated K2700 and Pregio – should be here before the end of the year.
Also under consideration is the hatchback version of the Cerato, but that may not arrive in 2004. The Picanto mini, once forecast to be here in 2004, is off the future model list.
KAA is aiming for 20,000 sales in 2004, up from 2003’s record of 17,235.
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