The Kia Optima, the all-new flagship saloon that is the latest model to be launched in Kia's design-led product offensive, goes on sale in the UK from 1 February bringing fantastic design, high levels of standard specification and low running costs to the D-segment, from just £19,595 on-the-road.
Unveiled back in 2010 at the New York Auto Show, Optima has proven to be a global success since day one. It became Korea's top-selling car within a month of going on sale - the first Kia ever to reach that exalted position - and is in such demand in the United States that Kia has had to build in Georgia just to keep pace. Nearly 300,000 Optimas have been sold across the world to date and it is already accumulating international design awards.
The Optima's looks alone will ensure it enjoys UK sales success previously unheard-of for a large Kia saloon. Kia's Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer, likens the car's clean, stylish and uncomplicated cut to that of a fine Italian suit.
But the Optima has also been configured to appeal to the business community who make up the vast majority of D-segment customers in the UK. It will be sold only with a diesel engine - a new 134bhp version of Kia's smooth and efficient 1.7-litre CRDi 'U2' power unit - while all four specification options contain every essential for the business user.
The arrival of the Optima means that for the first time Kia has a seriously competitive car in all the key sectors for the UK's fleet and leasing industry - Picanto, Rio, cee'd and now Optima. Three of those cars are all-new models introduced within the last eight months.
Even before the arrival of the Optima, Kia's corporate sales were going through the roof - up by 145% between 2010 and 2011, for a market share which improved from 1.58% to 2.42%. With the introduction of the Optima, further progress is confidently expected.
The Optima offers features never previously attainable on a Kia, including a high-end Infinity audio system. It delivers 550W of high-fidelity sound through 12 speakers in eight different locations throughout the car, including a boot-mounted subwoofer. Self-parking, heated and cool-ventilated seats, cornering lights, panoramic sunroof, reverse parking camera and an automatic cabin defogging system are also available, as is a six-speed automatic transmission that is among the most advanced currently produced by any car manufacturer.