The updated model year 2014 Kia Optima.
The updated model year 2014 Kia Optima. Matthew Vasilescu

Kia Optima upgrade defies the price-tag

THE Kia Optima, one of the most underrated cars on the Australian market, has been updated with improved looks and features.

Pricing has risen slightly across the range but the extra coin is worthy of specification upgrades.

The Si is now $30,990 (up $300), mid-spec SLi is $35,990 (increased $1000) and Platinum is $40,490 (extra $1200).

Upgrades to the mid-sizer coincide with the first generation Optima's unveiling at the Australian Open back in 2011.

Yet in a nod to the styling of designer Peter Schreyer, the Optima has hardly aged a day.

Improvements have been made to the front and rear end. The Optima now wears the corporate grille, and the changes are designed to accentuate its wide stance.

New 18-inch machine finished alloys also look the goods.

Inside, and the seats are much improved. They have larger bolsters and better under-thigh support which made for a comfortable ride across Melbourne's suburbs over the weekend.

Kia has ousted the chrome trim and replaced it with a satin finish, while the centre stack wears a more up-market high-gloss black.

We travelled in the Platinum derivative which features an eight-speaker Infiniti system.

Inside and out, there is a premium feel. The quality, fit and finish, both internally and externally, made it more than at home in Melbourne's most affluent suburbs.

It struck a fine figure in the plush surrounds of Brighton where German brands were the primary weapon of choice.

There is improved specification across the range. Optima Si has gained front parking sensors, while the SLi also receives leather trim.

Range-topping Platinum now has a high-end TFT information screen, blind spot detection and lane change assist as well as a ventilated seat for the front passenger.

There have been no mechanical changes, and Kia has stuck with the 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol partnered with a six-speed automatic.  It remains a strong unit which is also economical with average fuel consumption of about eight litres for every 100km.

The performance is nothing jaw-dropping, and the suspension tune may be too firm for some tastes, although it's probably a good fit for those buying in the mid-size market. Drivers are usually quite conservative and they will be impressed with the value on offer with the Optima. 

Kia Optima.
Details: Four-door front-wheel drive mid-size sedan.
Engine: 2.4-litre in-line four-cylinder generating maximum power of 148kW @ 6300rpm and peak torque of 250Nm @ 4250rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 7.9 litres/100km.
CO2: 189g/km.
Bottom line: Si $30,990, SLi $35,990, Platinum $40,490.

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