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Credos makes way for Optima

Ugly duckling no more: The Kia Optima's New Edge-inspired face sets it apart from the awkwardly styled Credos.

Kia has launched a new flagship sedan to replace the slow-selling Credos

Kia logo9 May 2001

KIA will this Friday launch its new Credos-replacing flagship - known as the Optima - which is claimed to be bigger and better than its predecessor.

Unlike the outgoing four-cylinder Credos, the newcomer is powered by a 2.5-litre V6 that generates 127kW at 6000rpm and 229.4Nm at 4000rpm - a useful improvement on the Credos's outputs of 98kW and 171Nm.

Optima pricing starts at $25,990 for the five-speed manual, rising to $28,490 for the Tiptronic-style four-speed automatic.

The standard equipment list includes air-conditioning, driver airbag, power steering, remote central locking, power windows and mirrors, and a CD player with six speakers. Metallic paint is the only option offered, adding $170 to the price.

Optima's improved specification comes at a cost though - in round figures the manual version costs $3500 more than the Credos, while the auto costs $4000 more.

Its closest rival on price and specification is the Hyundai Sonata Classique, which costs $24,990 as a manual and $26,770 as an auto. Incidentally, the Sonata uses essentially the same drivetrain as the Optima.

Kia says it opted to switch to V6 power for its flagship sedan in view of the diminished demand for medium-sized four-cylinder cars.

Most buyers who previously opted for mid-size fours are now choosing either smaller cars - such as the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Pulsar - or family-sized V6s such as the Holden Commodore. The only mid-size four that still sells strongly in the Toyota Camry.

The quad-cam V6-powered Optima is claimed to offer greater refinement levels than the Credos, as well as better performance.

Kia says the new manual gearbox is quieter in the top three gears and features double synchromesh for slick changes. The auto offers Tiptronic style manual gear selection as well as a conventional self-shifting mode.

Its "fuzzy logic" software adapts shift points to match changing driving and road conditions.

Externally, the newcomer is clearly distinguishable from its predecessor, ditching the latter's somewhat awkward styling in favour of a New Edge-inspired face The conventional four-vane grille is flanked by clear-lens, multi-reflector headlights that lend the car a more contemporary presence than the Credos. Its profile is conservative, but the Toyota Camry's sales success seems to suggest buyers in this segment prefer predictable styling to offbeat shapes.

The front-wheel drive Optima features all-independent suspension and disc brakes at all four corners - but an anti-lock system is not available even as an option, nor is a passenger airbag.

Kia says the Optima's passive safety features include 8km/h impact absorbing bumpers and deformable box sections in the front, side and rear of the car that protect the passenger compartment in more severe impacts.

The launch of the Optima completes the 12-month revamp of the Kia range.

The entry-level Rio hatch and sedan got the ball rolling last July and since then Kia has launched the Carens mini-MPV, long-wheelbase Sportage, updated Carnival, and Spectra - which replaces the Shuma/Mentor range.

GoAuto can help you buy a new Optima

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