Kia adds a top-spec GT model to the Optima line-up, bringing with it turbocharged grunt and lots gizmos.
Another new model for the Kia ranks is the GT, an addition to the Optima line-up. You remember the Optima? It’s the handsome sedan that you don’t see out and about too often. The segment is a hard nut to crack, people seduced by the amount of metal they can get by buying a similarly priced SUV. But for the sedan traditionalists out there, the new Optima GT is another one to consider if you’re looking at the top models.
The pricing of the GT, at $53,990, sees it at the cheaper end of the range toppers, less costly than the top dogs in the Accord, Mazda6 and Sonata ranges and on par with the Mondeo Titanium. For spec, the GT is bristling with guff; all the active safety gear, added GT styling bits and even a tickle up in the engine department.
Whereas regular Optimas make do with a naturally aspirated 2.4-litre four, Kia has dropped a 2.0-litre turbo into the GT, giving it 180kW and 350Nm of torque. With a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection and dual vvt, the engine delivers a good serve of low- to midrange twist for fuss-free commuting. Keep accelerating and the pull builds properly once past 2500rpm and it pumps away to just beyond 6000rpm where it begins to taper off. It’s outright performance isn’t pack leading, but it feels brisker than its 7.7sec 0-100km/h time suggests, and the in-gear pull is solid. As to fuel use, officially it’s marginally thirstier than the 2.4 (8.5L/100km vs 8.3) while an average of 10 or so is likely with a mix of motorway and rural cruising, or 12s for city commuting.
While it wears a GT badge, this is no sports sedan, but it makes a fair fist of the bends. The GT gets retuned dampers with a bit more starch to their valving and while the ride’s not stiff you feel a few more bumps in town. In the corners, there’s more immediacy on the turn, but when trying to round up tricky bends in a quick manner, more body roll starts to creep in and the rear end can be unsettled by the odd bump. It doesn’t come unstuck in a hurry though, the GT wearing 235-cross section Michelin Pilot Sports. While they are a bit rowdy on coarse chip roads, they help keep the front sticking a tad longer before the eventual understeer rears its head. The power-on traction is helped by the ESP calming any likely wheel spin and torque steer nicely. Brakes are adequate but no more.
Like the badge suggests, a GT driving style is best, brisk but not berserk. The steering is better than the regular Optima’s, we thought, and that’s because the GT has a different electric set-up with the motor mounted on the steering rack. While not overly quick, you can place the GT optimally (sorry) while the amount of assistance is sorted too. The six-speed auto does the trick, no real need to paddle the action along, though with a bunch of torque in the midrange, the ’box doesn’t really have to work overly hard.
The GT also has a drive mode button, Sport doing the usual thing to the steering, throttle and auto while also altering the sound of the engine. We’re not quite sure about this however; it’s rather synthetic and even makes for a vocal tune in Normal mode. One gadget too many? Perhaps.
There are plenty of other widgets on board, the GT’s stock of standard fit items extending to a heated steering wheel, ventilated seats, a full panoramic roof, as well as a comprehensive array of active safety features, including active cruise, lane departure, auto high beams, AEB, and blind spot alert.
The Optima is one of the sharper looking sedans about, the GT’s appearance augmented with a sportier bumper up front, new side sills, a lower diffuser on the rear with dual pipes and GT-specific 18s. Inside it’s a similar story, a dark roofliner, alloy trim, a sportier wheel and red-stitched leather trim sprucing up the appearance. That said, while the quality is pleasing, the design flair doesn’t match that of the exterior.
The eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system gets sat nav and Bluetooth although it needs more resolution, and lacks for CarPlay or Android Auto. Helping offset this is Harman Kardon premium sounds and wireless device charging. Like the rest of its large medium classmates, Optima has plenty of rear passenger space, and a generous 510L boot, both long and wide with a split folding seat.
As stated in our intro, the big sedan market is a hard sell, and so Kia NZ is offering the GT to order only. So if you like the Optima Limited but want more go, the GT is an obvious option. While more expensive, the Mazda6 and Passat are worth considering in this space too.
|Model||Kia Optima GT||Price||$53,990|
|Engine||1998cc, IL4, T/DI, 180kW/350Nm||Drivetrain||6-speed auto, front-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||8.5L/100km||C02 Output||199g/km|