2011 Kia Optima

New mid-size sedan is big on style
By Nauman Farooq

The Kia Optima (Magentis as it’s called in Canada) has been around for 10 years now, and is probably one of the most overlooked cars in its segment of mid-sized sedans.

2011 Kia Optima

2011 Kia Optima

While it has always been a good, reliable car, due to its boring exterior design and cheap plastic interior, it is one of those cars people don’t notice much.

They will however notice the one though. Unveiled last week at the 2010 New York International Auto Show, this new Optima might just get enough attention to cause people to walk into lamp poles.

While style is a very personal choice, this new Optima will undoubtedly get praise from everyone. No matter which angle you look at it from, it will please you. The nose of the car is highlighted by the wide mouth grill and swept back headlights. The side profile shot reveals just how sleek and sexy it truly is with its coupe like A-pillar and C-pillar design. Around the back, you see the car tapering off elegantly, with beautifully styled tail-lights and exhausts.

So this honestly is one of those few cars that looks right from all angles, and for such a car to have a Korean badge is even more remarkable. One shouldn’t be too surprised though, after all it was penned by Peter Schreyer, whose past credits include the original Audi TT and the Volkswagen New Beetle.

Thankfully the design theme carries on in the interior too. It looks almost as good from the inside as it does from the outside, and perhaps even more importantly, the quality of the fit and finish is much better than most cars in its segment.
It is well equipped too with standard power-windows, locks and mirrors. Customers can spec optional equipment such as a reversing camera, navigation system and eight-way power driver’s seat.

For powering down the road, at first only the 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine will be offered. This unit produces 200 hp thanks to direct-injection technology. While the V6 engine option has been discontinued, in a few months time, a 2.0-liter, turbo charged, four-cylinder engine will answer the need for more power. This turbo unit will produce 274 hp, which is quite impressive. For the more eco-minded motorist, a hybrid will also be offered later in the year, based on the 2.4-liter motor. In all models, power is sent to the front wheels via six-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel mounted pedal-shifters.

Throw in standard features like six airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control, and it sounds like a really good deal. Add its 10-year/160,000 km powertrain warranty and this car might just be one of the best deals in the auto business. Its competition might start losing sleep very soon.

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