- Strong body with ‘intuitive’ crash protection features
- Smooth ride, responsive handling, electronic suspension
- Petrol or diesel, seven-speed double-clutch transmission
FRANKFURT, Germany – Kia’s first D-degment tourer, the Optima Sportswagon, will make its global premiere at the 2016 Geneva auto show on March 1 – a year after the concept version, the Sportspace, appeared at the same venue.
The automaker describes the newbie as having the same exterior as the 2016 Optima sedan but “with the practicality and appeal of a tourer body”.
Michael Cole, chief operating officer with Kia Europe, explained: “The Optima has come to define Kia globally and is credited with kick-starting the brand’s design-led transformation. The Sportspace was a clear intention of where we wanted to take the Optima and the Sportswagon adds a level of style and practicality to the well-received sedan.
“This is an important product for Kia in Europe. It will increase our presence in this hugely important segment. In Europe two-thirds of D-segment sales and three-quarters of fleet sales in that class are tourers so the Sportswagon will be crucial in attracting private and corporate buyers.”
The car will be available with a choice of “efficient and responsive” petrol and diesel power trains – one of them will be a high-powered GT – but, the automaker says, each will have innovative crash protection and infotainment features.
The cars will be assembled in South Korea and reach showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2016.
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Kia says the car is its first attempt in the large wagon market but promises it will “be among the most stylish in its class, with a long, lean and dynamic profile”. This translates to being e same length as the sedan at 4855mm but 1860mm wide and five millimetres taller at 1470mm to create a larger boot.
There are wide diode tail lights and the rear bumper houses a single oval exhaust and air diffuser. Nine paint colours will be available along with alloy wheels rims ranging from 16 to 18″ in diameter.
The driver faces a wide dashboard and the cabin has, Kia says, the same high material quality and design that characterises the interior of the Optima sedan”. There’s a high proportion of soft-touch materials, cloth and leather trim in natural tones “and tasteful metallic accents”.
Tech features include better usability, comfort and convenience, among them Kia’s latest audio-visual navigation satnav with either an 18 or 20cm touchscreen, depending on spec choice. In Europe, those choices could mean live traffic updates, speed-camera alerts and weather forecasts. A six-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system with eight speakers is included.
A wireless phone charger activates automatically when it detects a compatible unit and will beep the driver should he/she be about to leave the car without picking up the phone. Other mobiles can be charged from either a front or rear socket.
Self-parking, 360-degree cameras and cornering headlights are other options.
While the car is essentially a sedan made to look like a wagon it does, Kia says, have a 553-litre cargo capacity behind the second row of seats – 48 litres more than the sedan – that includes a luggage net and pop-up sliding luggage rails to secure individual items. The boot lip is low and opens when the smart key is near.
40:20:40 split and folding rear seats are fitted as standard to accommodate long objects between two rear passengers. Humans, Kia hopes, will be protected by a five-star crash-protection rating when the car is officially launched with front, side and curtain crash bags.
Before any of them is needed, however, the car’s stability management should have corrected things; there’s also smart cruise-control whose radar/cameras will activate automatic emergency braking, auto lane-keeping, auto high-beam and blind-spot and cross-traffic alerts.
Short-range ‘City’ radar will help the driver to avoid or mitigate a frontal collision at up to 50km/h and will recognise pedestrians at up to 60km/h.
Customers can specify electronic suspension control which monitors the road surface and uses sensors to stiffen or soften the shock-absorbers according to the driver’s desire for either a comfortable or sporty ride. The system will be standard on two-litre T-GDI GT models.
Front-wheel drive is standard.
SIX-SPEED AUTO FOR GT VERSION
The Optima Sportswagon will be available with a range of Euro 6-compliant petrol or diesel engines: a 1.7-litre CRDi diesel, a two–litre petrol engine or, on GT units, a new, two-litre turbo direct-injection petrol engine. Each will be offered with either a six-speed manual or new seven-speed double-clutch transmission.
The T-GDI GT petrol engine will have only a six-speed auto.
Plans for the cars’ introduction to South Africa have not been announced.