The stylish Kia Optima is an ideal alternative to the standard company car, as Edward Stephens discovers.
If you are a company car driver it’s nice to be able to opt for something a little different. Something which stands out in the company car park.
For those who want to get away from the Mondeo man image Kia has created its stylish Optima saloon.
And while it may not be that much cheaper than some alternatives, you will get a lot more equipment for your money.
This car has been designed specifically to appeal to the business community, although to be fair it has just as much appeal as a spacious up-market family car.
By any standards the Optima, which has been a runaway success in its home market of Korea as well as in the USA, is a large car with an abundance of space for both passengers and luggage.
Seven different spec levels are available all with the same 1.7-litre, 134bhp turbodiesel engine, although there is a choice of six speed manual or six speed automatic transmission.
The engine was first used in the Kia Sportage but has been uprated for use in the Optima and is as sharp and torquey as most of its rivals’ 2.0-litre engines.
My test car came with the autobox, which was smooth and seamless.
With 0-62mph acceleration of 11.5 seconds it’s a competent performer, although not the fastest kid on the block.
That said this is a very civilised automatic which has the knack of taking the stress out of driving, leaving everyone calm and relaxed.
The auto averages a creditable 47 miles per gallon but if you are looking for even more economy the manual version will add and additional 10 mpg to that.
Externally the Optima is a very sleek, streamlined saloon with distinctive swept back headlights.
Inside it has an aircraft themed fascia and centre console which is neatly tilted towards the driver at an angle of 9.6 degrees so all the controls are within line of sight and there is less need to take your eyes off the road.
When you get behind the wheel the dashboard lights up with a “welcome” message.
Insert the ignition key and the powered seat automatically moves you forward to your desired seating position and moves you away again when you turn off the ignition to allow you to get out easily – just like a Jaguar.
And what’s more the front seats are heated – and you can set your seating position in the car’s memory just in case someone else in the family drives it. When you turn off the ignition you get a “Thank you, see you again” message each time.
My Tech version came with a sat nav system as standard as well as a 550W Infiniti premium sound system with 12 speakers.