Design & Technology / Product

In the high performing sporty sedan, Kia Optima July 15th, 2010

Pamela A. MunozBy Pamela A. Munoz
Overseas Communication Team
Kia Motors Corporation

I clicked on the smart key to find my all-new Optima among the sea of Kia vehicles in the company parking lot and the side mirrors unfolded as I approached the vehicle. When I sat in the car to discover for myself what this car has to offer, I was cheerily greeted with a ‘Welcome’ display on the Supervision Cluster, a 3.5 inch colour LCD screen. (I later learned this cluster uses cutting-edge optic technology for its super-clear visibility in the light or dark.) By now, I had read a few reviews from motor journalists about this vehicle already, and I could clearly see that their first impressions weren’t wrong.

When I pushed the button start, my seat moved forward due to the Integrated Memory Seat (IMS) function that retains the settings of the drivers’ preferred driving position. (When exiting the vehicle, the seats automatically move back to allow for easy exit – very handy for the ladies carrying large handbags or wearing a skirt!) I eased my way out of the parking lot and headed towards the busy streets of Seoul, taking the freeway headed into downtown.

The Optima (K5) comes with the option of three engines, the Theta II 2.0 MPI, Theta II 2.4 MPI and the Theta II 2.4 GDI, in both automatic and six-speed manual transmission. I was driving the optional 2.4 GDI automatic which has a lot more power and leverages the Optima’s upscale style and advanced features. The ride was extremely smooth, with no hesitation – and had unbelievable pick-up to overtake slower drivers. It was extremely responsive and not at all stiff along some of Seoul’s uneven roads. Heading down some of the curvier roads in the hilly terrain, handling was spot-on and secure.

Once downtown, it was a great car to be in as the turning radius was small and U-turns were a cinch. Maneuvering around the busy traffic and stand-still jams, it was nice to have the ECO button which adjusts the drive train operation for best fuel economy – resulting in fuel savings of approximately 9%. And, when I eventually did get stuck in traffic, my passenger and I were thankful for the front air ventilated seats!

By far, the best feature of the Optima was the panoramic sunroof which opened up some headspace and we could feel the wind in our hair. For city drivers, that’s not always possible. The drive around Seoul in Kia’s all-new sporty K5, known as Optima in other markets, was a lot of fun. Here are some pictures and a short video of the rearview camera for you to enjoy…

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  • Nicholas Gomez

    Nice review Pamela. It looks very nice. Can’t wait for them to be on the roads here in Malaysia.

  • Ahmad Harmoosh

    I think Optima has gone a step up to the luxury segment.

    I love this car.

  • Super design!

  • jtz

    That image of the Optima on that 3 inch screen, if the car was black or blue, would the image then display the car as being the color of the car or would it still be silver? I asked this many times and never got answered.

  • @jtz –> That’s a great question and I had to ask around to find out. As it turns out, the answer is no, it is always silver. But wouldn’t that be clever if it did change to the colour of your own vehicle? Hmmm… something to think about!

  • WL Tan

    You are so lucky! The instrument cluster is really cool-looking. It was only a few years ago that KIA cars were boring, now they are really desirable!

  • andy

    Hi pam….do you have news when optima 2011 will be arriving in Malaysia??? waiting impatiently for the car :) cheers..

  • WL Tan

    Will be good if they can bring the GDI turbo to more countries, like Singapore! Think we haven’t had a turbocharged korean car here before.

  • Hi Andy –> We are still conducting market studies for Malaysia but our team there thinks that it’ll become available sometime in 2011. More information will become available once market analysis is complete.

  • Elias

    Hi Pamela, I just saw the new KIA EV Venga at the Incheon airport. Do you know when this will be on sale?

  • andy

    Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the prompt reply…..without a doubt the car will be a major hit here…at least we have option other than Toyota and Honda..a better option that is…so i better start saving money then :) …keep up the good job..cheers..

    P/S: hopefully it will be in Malaysia early 2011..we Malaysian can’t hardly wait

  • Dash

    Hi Pam thanks for this review! Are you aware of any professional reviews of this car? I’m very much looking forward to it’s arrival in the States. I’m also curious if the UVO system can be had along with Navigation, or are they mutually exclusive?


  • joe

    Hi Pam, do you know if they will be adding AWD at sometime. If yes will that be an option in the USA

  • John Downey

    Great car! I hope the upholstery in the Australian can have a choice of colours other than black. Black to me means dark, dingy, claustrophobic and hot, especially in tropical and sub tropical Australia. I hope that another colour like tan, grey, cream, beige, or blue will be offered.

  • @Elias –> What country are you in? Venga is currently on sale in Europe only; it was developed for the Eureopean market.

    @Dash –> There haven’t been too many reviews on this car as it is still not available in other markets. However, last week we showed it to some journalists in San Francisco and here’s one review it received:

    Also, the UVO system cannot be had simultaneously with the navigation. They are both options for the US market.

    @Joe –> AWD on the Optima mid-size sedan? No plans yet.

  • Pingback: 2011 Kia Optima/K5 review - Optima Forums : Kia Optima Forum()

  • great pictures!

  • Thanks, @Kia of NewMarket! I took them myself :)

  • Greg

    Having watched Kia products since they were introduced in the U.S., the quality has improved with each new product. The new Optima is sure to be a top seller with its’ design and features.

    Kia continues to grow as other makers wish they could in this difficult economic climate.

    With each advance in product, dealer committment and customer relations Kia gains new customers and enthusiasts. Each one of these becomes a representative of the product.

    Will be awaiting the arrival of the Cadenza, Forte Hatchback and the new Optima at my local dealer.

  • Joe

    Has it been confirmed, K5/Optima will come to Singapore by Nov 2010? i am ready to book the car…

  • Steve of Fine Cars KIA UK

    Excellent car, way better than a Ford Mondeo
    Pam will the GDI be coming to the UK and also will the supervision display be UK spec as the uber cool things seem to get left out due to KIA UK thinking this equipment will not be wanted by UK customers.

  • boe

    Hey pam great review and pics i was looking at the new sonata but this definetely has got me thinking twice! When will it be available in california???

  • Sorry for the late reply all… I was on holidays! I hope I’m not too late to answer your Q’s.

    @Joe — Optima should be available early next year… but visit your nearest Kia dealership to see if you can push an earlier date! :)

    @Steve — Sorry to disappoint, but the GDI will not be available in the UK…

    @Boe — In the US, the Optima should be available soon. Scheduled for the Fall.

  • Micheal

    Wow what fantastic car.Cant wait to book 1.When will be the arrival date in Malaysia,currently im using the first model of optima.My next car i want to be OOOOOOptima alsooooooooooo.

  • gohpk

    Pamela, me too are eagerly waiting for the lovely K5 to be here in Malaysia, appreciate if you have any insider info or news for us here… thanks!

  • Syed

    I drive 2004 kia optima and cant wait to change to K5 when it arrives in malaysia!
    (to be honest, if k5 does not exist, i will keep my 2004 optima)

  • Chris

    The OPTIMA is certainly looking to be a stand out of the crowd kinda vehicle.
    I really like that it looks more masculine in a way, sitting lower and having such a nice front profile.
    Getting the feling that it will do realy well in the Australian market and am looking forward to seeing one up close and personal!.

  • Will the new Optima Turbo be avaiable in Canada and when.

    Thank you,

  • Fabes

    Hi Pam, nice insights to the new handsome optima. Just to check if the Optima (with the new GDI engine and turbo options) will make it’s way into the Singapore market?

  • Danny

    Hi Pam! I noticed in some videos that there is a sliding cover for the cupholders (really nice) in the optima, but at the Kia dealer here in New York I noticed they didn’t have that cover and no one knew of it. Is that an optional feature?

  • Noiclue

    Had a look at the Optima at our local dealer (after buying the 2011 Cerato). Nice looking car, was very impressed with all it’s features. Am sure it will give Holdens and Fords a run for their money here in Australia. For them to build something equivalent to the Optima the price would be $15000 more. Nice car and a nice price. Well done Kia