Thursday, 14 December 2017

Estate deserves to be on your radar

Estate deserves to be on your radar

OFTEN you get cars that are the unsung heroes of British roads because for one reason or another they slip under buyers’ radar.

Speaking of which, the Kia Optima Sportswagon is a case in point.

The car joined the Kia range in Britain last September, having been designed in Europe specifically for the European market only.

But having just spent some time with the Kia Optima Sportswagon 1.7 CRDi 3 Eco, I have to say that if you are in the market for such a vehicle, this one is well worth checking out. It might not be your first choice of brand but I don’t think you will be disappointed because the Optima Sportswagon delivers on so many fronts.

Space is one of them: the Sportswagon has a minimum of 552 litres of load space, including two underfloor trays, and 1,686 litres with the rear seats folded. Integrated roof rails are standard. It has an efficient and refined 1.7-litre turbodiesel engine, which has plenty of torque (pulling power).

Connectivity and technologies to help the driver include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Kia Connected Services powered by TomTom, a Harman
Kardon eight-speaker audio system, autonomous emergency braking, smart cruise control and rear cross traffic alert.

Kia’s first ever estate car in this popular car sales segment comes to the UK at the same time as a plug-in hybrid version of the Optima, which I hope to test at a later date.

In Europe, two-thirds of D-segment sales and 75 per cent of fleet sales in the class are taken by estate cars.

There are three trim lines for the new Sportswagon — 2, 3 and GT-Line S — echoing those available for the Optima saloon. A sporty high-performance GT version is available this year.

Additions exclusive to the estate of the Optima include roof rails as standard on all three trim lines, along with a luggage area DC power socket, a handle for one-touch folding of the rear seats, a luggage side partition and towing connection preparation.

Level 3 adds a luggage rail system, boot lip trim and privacy glass in the rear doors, rear quarterlights and tailgate. A smart powered tailgate further distinguishes the GT-Line S.

I find that these powered tailgates in such vehicles as large and medium sized estates are now a must.

Grade 3’s navigation screen is eight inches, and this level has an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s memory seat with four-way electronic lumbar adjustment, heated front seats and dual projection headlights.

Eighteen-inch alloy wheels, chrome and body colour exterior door handles, LED front foglights and rear combination lamps and chrome-coloured side sill mouldings distinguish the exterior.

The black cloth seats have faux leather sections. Rear electric windows with an auto up/down function and an anti-trap safety feature are also found on grade 3 along with a premium vision instrument cluster, satin chrome interior door handles and gloss black window switch panels.

A Harman Kardon premium sound system is also standard, while if the optional 7DCT automatic transmission is chosen there are paddle shifters for manual control and a drive mode select function.

Additional driver aids on grade 3 include lane keep assist and a speed limit warning.

The Optima Sportswagon shows both practicality and versatility for the business drivers who will be its biggest customers.

But I think this practical side of the Optima Sportswagon should not put off private buyers.

A wide tailgate and low lip make it easy to load heavy items, and the smart power tailgate on GT-Line S opens automatically when the smart key comes into close proximity for more than three seconds.

The folding rear seats allow two people to travel in comfort while still leaving space for long loads.

Grades 3 and GT-Line S have adjustable sliding luggage rails with built-in harnesses for securing loads.

The Optima Sportswagon interior is spacious and stylish but also shows good design sense. The centre console of the fascia is angled at 8.5 degrees towards the person behind the wheel, while the central touchscreen is set at exactly the same height as the instruments in the main cluster to make it easier for the driver to absorb information quickly.

The interior is trimmed in black cloth, black cloth with faux leather or black leather, depending on model grade.

A faux leather finish has been applied to the door and centre console armrests and black leather is standard on the gear lever and steering wheel.

Apple CarPlay enables full Siri voice control of the phone’s apps and functions while linking the car to Apple Maps, calls and text dictation, music streaming and audiobooks.

The latest Kia audio-visual navigation (AVN) system is operated via either a seven- or eight-inch touchscreen featuring Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone connectivity with audio streaming. The navigation screen is linked to a rear parking camera.

There are USB charging points in the front and rear in every model, while the GT-Line S includes a wireless charger for topping up the batteries of smartphones.

The AVN system offers the full Kia Connected Services package powered by TomTom.

This provides live traffic updates, speed camera alerts and local point-of-interest and weather reports. It is provided free for seven years.

Six airbags are fitted as standard. Electronic stability control and vehicle stability management are also standard. These can automatically counteract any loss of traction when cornering or setting off on surfaces with differing levels of grip from left to right.

Depending on model, the Optima Sportswagon’s other features include lane keep assist and a speed limit autonomous information function on grades 3 and GT-Line S, plus autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert and high beam assist for the range-topping model.

Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection brings the car to a halt at speeds of up to 50mph if the driver fails to react to a potential accident.

The Optima Sportswagon is powered exclusively by Kia’s 1.7- CRDi turbodiesel engine.

The engine was engineered at Kia’s European research and development centre in Germany and features high-pressure common-rail fuel injection for maximum efficiency and a variable geometry turbocharger to enhance low-speed driveability while ensuring strong top-end power.

With Kia’s Idle Stop & Go (ISG) engine stop/start system as standard, CO2 emissions of manual models are 113g/km, only 3g/km more than the saloon, while fuel economy is a highly impressive 64.2mpg.

With the 7DCT dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which is available in grades 3 (optional) and GT-Line S (standard), emissions are 120g/km, while fuel economy is 61.4mpg.

The manual has a 0-60mph acceleration time of 9.8 seconds, while with the 7DCT 0-60mph takes 10.7 seconds. With either transmission the top speed is 124mph.

In keeping with every Kia, the Optima Sportswagon comes with the company’s unique-in-the-UK seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, subject to certain wear and tear conditions.

KIA OPTIMA SPORTSWAGON

l Kia’s first D-segment estate car

l Minimum 552 litres of cargo space with 40:20:40 split rear seats

l One-touch folding rear seats, luggage rails and smart power tailgate add to practicality

l Powered by an efficient and refined 1.7-litre diesel engine

l Up to 64.2mpg fuel economy, with CO2 emissions as low as 113g/km

l Available with a full range of advanced driver assistance systems

l Connectivity features include standard Android Auto or Apple CarPlay

l Priced from £22,295

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