This is the first large estate Kia has produced and it’s based on the Optima saloon. We’ve given it a thorough test to see how good it is
What do we have here?
This is the all-new five-door estate version of the Optima saloon and is called the Optima Sportswagon. Designed in Europe for Europe, it’ll be sold exclusively across the continent.
The Sportswagon is the same length (4,855mm), width (1,860mm) and only 5mm taller (1,470mm) due to its roof rails, than the saloon.
It has an identical front end with changes starting from the b-pillars back. The side windows taper towards the rear of the car, while at the back the tailgate and taillights make for an attractive look.
The boot has 552-litres of capacity which is less than a Skoda Superb Estate (660-litres) but more than a Ford Mondeo Estate (500-litres). Drop the rear seats to extend the load bay and capacity increases to 1,686-litres.
The Sportswagon gets the same 1.7-litre diesel engine as the saloon which develops 139bhp and 251lb ft of torque, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds when fitted a six-speed manual gearbox, while an optional seven-speed auto takes 10.7 seconds. The manual returns 64.2mpg on a combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 113g/km. Those figures worsen to 61.4mpg and 120g/CO2 for the automatic.
It’s available in three trim levels; 2, 3 and GT-Line S, with a sportier GT version arriving in 2017.
Trim level 2 comes with; 17in alloys; a 7.0in sat-nav screen; reversing camera; dual-zone automatic air con; a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear lever; cruise control; electrically heated folding mirrors; a six-speaker DAB radio with MP3 compatibility; and Bluetooth with music streaming.
Level 3 upgrades the sat nav to an 8.0in screen, and it gets; 18in alloy wheels; eight-way power adjustable driver's memory seat with lumbar; part faux leather seats with the front seats being heated; and a Harman/Kardon sound system.
GT-Line S trim gets; 18in alloy wheels; panoramic sunroof; LED headlights; black leather seats; a wireless mobile phone charger; 360-degree view; park assist; blind spot detection with rear cross alert; adaptive cruise control; autonomous emergency braking; and a powered tailgate.
On sale now and priced from £22,295 to £30,595. We’re testing the ‘3’ with a manual gearbox which costs £24,495.
How does it drive?
While it may not be the most powerful engine around, it’s certainly one of the smoothest, delivering a consistent pull from low down the rev range. There’s some diesel rattle on tick over but it actually becomes quieter as speeds increase.
The six-speed manual gearbox is a delight to use, feeling accurate and robust although the throw is marginally longer than is ideal. The clutch though it silkily smooth with a golden syrup viscosity to it.
When driving, it quickly becomes apparent how comfortable the ride is. Larger bumps are well absorbed and smoothed away while long distances can be eaten up with little effort. Only at low speed is there any sign of any suspension firmness over small and frequent road imperfections.
It’s well damped also meaning it settles quickly over crests and never feels wallowy.
The Sportswagon handles well. There’s little body lean and decent levels of grip. Where there is a concern is the steering. Drive in a measured and calm way you and the steering is a well-weighted, accurate and has a consistent feel. Push on, though, and the steering weighting changes mid-corner, which reduces your confidence to commit to enthusiastic driving. This is a tragedy as the rest of the car can certainly capable of delivering an entertaining drive.
Levels of refinement are good while the rear roof pillars around the tailgate impinge on visibility when reversing, although the reversing camera certainly helps.
What's it like inside?
The interior is well designed and screwed together. It’s restrained in design but is classy and has elements of BMW, Audi and Jaguar to it.
On the top of the dash you get soft touch plastics, while the black gloss trim and chrome detailing work well. The controls are easy to use, clear and well-damped.
The 8-way electric seats are supportive and offer plenty of adjustment to help you find a comfortable seating position. Neatly, the seat moves backwards when you turn off the ignition to provide more space when getting in and out.
The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake and there’s plenty of head and shoulder room. Storage is good with usefully sized door bins and there’s a deep and square central box under the armrest. There are two cupholders between the seats while the size of the glovebox is ok. You’ll find a sunglasses holder by the rearview mirror.
In the rear, the amount of space is really impressive. There is acres of leg and knee room while head room is good. The transmission tunnel is low, meaning a middle passenger will find it easier to get comfortable. There are USB charging points in the centre and each door will take a bottle. The central folding armrest contains two cupholders.
The boot is huge and well designed with a large square opening, flat floor, and almost no boot lip. The floor folds up to reveal extra storage while bag hooks increase its usability. There’s also a load cover to keep your belongings out of sight. The brushed aluminium scuff plate is a classy finishing touch.
A lever on either side of the boot, once pulled, lowers the backrest of the corresponding side's rear seats.
Kia claims that the 1.7-litre diesel will return 61.4mpg in this trim. Over the 370 miles we covered during our test, we returned a decent 45mpg.
CO2 emissions of 120g/km mean road tax costs £30 for a year and this model falls into the 24% company car tax banding.
The insurance grouping for this specification is group 20E.
It comes with seven-year 100,000-mile warranty (or three-years unlimited miles) and one-year roadside assistance.
If you’re after a spacious, comfortable, luxurious estate car that’s well-priced, has a huge warranty and will eat up vast distances with ease, then you’ll find little to beat the Optima Sportswagon.
However, if you’re after a sportier ride, then you’re better to look at a Ford Mondeo Estate, while the Skoda Superb remains many people’s favourite executive estate.
The Optima Sportswagon feels classy, is well-priced and is a hugely likeable, stylish and capable load lugger and is an improvement over the saloon.