Kia Optima Diesel Saloon

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Review Of The Kia Optima Diesel Saloon

The new Kia Optima Diesel Saloon is a solid family car. It’s well-equipped, boasts a seven-year warranty, and offers excellent value for money.

There’s also now a hybrid model available for families who want to save more money on running costs. For the purpose of this review, though, we’re focusing on the sole diesel engine. It returns over 67mpg, and does 0-62 in ten seconds flat.

The Optima has style, too, and is just as handsome as its rivals. It’s got plenty of road presence, and much more power than before.

OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2017 Kia Optima Diesel Saloon review.

On The Road

The Optima is not as good as some rivals at mixing engaging handling with cruising ability. It’s a good cruiser – but it isn’t much fun. The steering is overly vague and cagey for our liking, which makes it hard for you to plant the car on the road.

And while the suspension has been tweaked to protect you from broken surfaces, it’s led to increased body lean in bends.

That said, it’s got a fair amount of agility in bends, despite being a fairly heavy car. The chassis offers lots of grip, and there are cars in this class that are less engaging.

White Kia Optima Saloon driving on tarmac road with trees on one side

There is only one diesel engine available. It’s a 1.7-litre CRDi powerplant that’s a noisy affair. Power delivery is too flat to get excited by, and it doesn’t start to build momentum until it’s over 3,500rpm.

It’s a better engine than last time around, and now boasts 139bhp. It can do 0-62 in 10.0 seconds, but you need to work it hard to do so. It feels as heavy as it looks.

The noise grates when you do work it hard, and it can be off-putting. Once you’re up and away, the sheer lack of refinement can further frustrate. Add to this the limp manual gearbox, and it becomes clear that this is not an enjoyable driving experience

You can add the automatic ‘box for extra cash if you like. A 7-speed twin clutch transmission, it’s responsive if not super engaging. On the motorway, it’s the better option.

Kia Optima Diesel Saloon Interior, Design & Build

kia optima diesel saloon interior

It’s not easy to stand out from the crowd in the family car sector. It’s currently awash with handsome cars. Thankfully, the Optima also doesn’t stand out for the wrong reasons. It looks just as austere as its rivals.

We like the distinctive nose in particular, while a swooping roofline gives it an edge. The small windows at the side, meanwhile, give it a sportier accent.

Inside, Kia has clearly spent less time on the design. It’s crisp and fluid, but it’s not exciting or bold. It won’t offend, but it also won’t inspire. It just is. It’s inoffensive and family-friendly. And that will probably be enough for a lot of buyers.

A leather gearshift and steering wheel are nice touches, but you have to upgrade to the inventively named 2 model for the cloth seats. The dashboard in all models has been well put together, and comes with lots of soft-touch plastics.

It’s clear to see from the outside that this is a big car, which surely means plenty of interior space? It does. Backseat legroom is good, while seat height adjustment means you can all get as comfy as you want.

The middle seat is a bit of an issue as it’s raised. It’s best if you reserve it for your kids. The swooping roofline might also cause issues for taller adults.

Storage spaces are plentiful and include a chilled, good-sized glovebox and some big bottle holders.

The boot, meanwhile, measures 505-litres. That’s pretty good, but it’s a boot that harkens back to Kia’s budget days. The quality of the finish is poor – especially the carpet. Lots of cheap metal is exposed, too. Worse still, the lip is high.

Equipment & Safety Of The Kia Optima Diesel Saloon

Equipment is good across the range. The standard 1 model gets alloys, Bluetooth, DAB radio, all-round electric windows and a reversing camera. It also gets air conditioning.

The 3 model offers the best value. It only costs £2,000 more than the standard model, but adds an 8” touchscreen, larger alloys, and a ten-speaker stereo.

The GT-Line S trim sits at the top of the range. It’s expensive, but throws in a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, as well as a wireless phone charger.

In terms of safety, the Optima bagged all five stars when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP. Its standard safety kit includes airbags, tyre pressure monitoring and electronic stability control. The 3 model adds lane-departure, and the GT-Line S adds autonomous emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring.

Costs Of The Kia Optima Diesel Saloon

Prices for the new car start out from £21,600 and rise to £34,000. For more information on our lease deals, you can check out our page here.

In terms of its running costs, the solitary 1.7-litre diesel engine fares well despite the car’s size. It can average returns of 67.3mpg, and pumps out 110g/km of CO2. If you choose the automatic transmission instead, that figure drops to 64.2mpg.

There are cheaper rivals, but the Optima’s yearly tax bill is $140. We don’t think that’s too bad.

Pros and Cons Of The Kia Optima Diesel Saloon


Looks Great

We’re gonna stick our necks out and say there are similarities with the latest Ford Mustang in the way it looks.

Well Kitted-Out

Standard kit is superb, with the entry level model getting the likes of air con, alloys, and a reversing camera.

 Reasonable Running Costs

Rivals – including the Peugeot 508 below – can return over 70mpg. But we think the 67mpg averaged by the Kia Optima Diesel is very respectable.


Not So Engaging

It’s easy to drive, but far from entertaining.

 Bland Interior

The Optima looks bold and assertive on the outside, but bland inside.

Can you see yourself driving around in the Kia Optima Diesel Saloon? We recommend you take a look at their amazing history

Kia Optima Diesel Saloon vs Mazda 6 Diesel Saloon vs Peugeot 508 Diesel Saloon

Let’s find out how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our Kia Optima Diesel Saloon review.

Kia Optima Diesel Saloon vs Mazda 6 Diesel Saloon

Like the Kia, the new Mazda 6 Diesel Saloon is a handsome thing. Add to this a great driving experience and good running costs, and it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best in this class.

It’s enjoyable driving experience is helped in no small part by a seemingly infinite supply of performance. Sharp, crisp handling also helps, and it doesn’t reduce comfort.

It’s not quite as agile as the brand’s MX-5 Roadster – but it isn’t far off! It feels well-weighted, and offers more engagement than the Optima.

dark red mazda 6 saloon parked under modern building at sunset

The suspension is a bit on the firm side, though. On smooth roads, you won’t notice it. Take the Mazda 6 onto broken surfaces, however, and you’ll experience a bumpy ride.

In terms of the diesel engines, power is in good supply. There is only one available – 2.2-litre diesel – but it comes in two power guises. The smallest is a 148bhp variant that can do 0-62 in almost 9.0 seconds. The bigger of the two has 173bhp, and does the same sprint in 7.9 seconds.

Mazda has introduced an intelligent balancing system to the engine, which helps to suppress mechanical sound. It’s much more refined than last time, and suits the car’s character better.

Running costs are good for such a hefty car. i-Stop Tech has been fitted to save fuel whenever you’re in traffic, while the top of the range models get i-ELOOP. This improves economy even more by recovering kinetic energy and using it as electricity.

The car is also relatively lightweight, and the smaller diesel can return around 65mpg. Even the more powerful of the two is good for the 62.8mpg economy and emits just 119g/km of CO2.

Inside, you’re greeted by a smart cabin that’s come a long way in recent years. Mazda’s design team have managed to execute an interior that’s modern, spacious and able to cope with family life. The steering wheel is distinctively designed, and there are lashings of chrome here and there.

The dashboard feels strong enough to last, while leather trim enlivens what is otherwise a rather neutral trim. 7” colour screens are standard in all models.

The cabin is certainly stylish, but it’s not as practical as rivals. There isn’t as much overall room as there is in the Kia, with Mazda clearly putting style first. That said, there are lots of useful storage bins here and there, including well-shaped door pockets. Visibility is also decent.

Parking will be tricky, though. After all, this is a very large car. The boot, meanwhile, measures 483-litres, making it smaller than last time. The floor is totally flat, though, and you can extend the space to 1,632-litres by folding the rear seats.


Kia – £22,240 – £27,940

Mazda – £20,000 – £28,400

Kia Optima Diesel Saloon vs Peugeot 508 Diesel Saloon

white Peugeot 508 diesel saloon driving down tarmac road with green fields at the side

The new Peugeot 508 Diesel Saloon is yet another handsome large family car. It’s great to drive, comfy, and houses a quality cabin.

Despite its size and bulk, the 508 manages to offer an entertaining drive. The steering has plenty of feel, and its responsiveness means the car is agile.

Peugeot has done a good job with the suspension, too. It’s nicely balanced, and there isn’t too much lean in bends. So while the 508 Saloon certainly is a bulky car, it doesn’t feel like it is.

With no petrol engines available, the choice is limited to a few diesels. All are refined and smooth, and all offer reasonable performance. The entry-level 1.6-litre power plant has proven to be the most popular. Despite being the cheapest and smallest engine, it’s got enough power for most buyers. It delivers up to 118bhp, and can do 0-62 in 11.0 seconds.

That doesn’t sound quick, but it’s decent for such a car as this. After all, no one is looking for a hell raiser here.

148 and 178bhp variants of the same engine are quicker, though. The former does 0-62 in 8.9 seconds, while the latter does it in 8.5 seconds.

There is also the option of a bigger 2.0-litre diesel that’s faster still, and returns an impressive 67.3mpg economy. However, if running costs are a priority, it will be hard to look past the 74.3mpg returned by the 1.6-litre 118bhp unit.

The interior gets big thumbs up. The firm suspension doesn’t mean you’re in for an uncomfortable ride, while exterior noises are well suppressed. Add in the supportive seats, and the Peugeot 508 Saloon is a pleasant place to spend your time on the road.

Elsewhere, high quality touches bound. But while build quality and the use of materials is good, button clutter is an issue. Moreover, Peugeot has chosen to place some of the buttons in some rather unusual places. This reduces the user-friendliness of the 508.

Worse still, the cabin is beginning to show its age and badly needs a refresh.

The boot could be bigger, too. Measuring just 473-litres, it’s the smallest in this review. On the plus side, the boot comes with a small lip and a large opening. Storage spaces are limited, and the door bins are oddly placed. But the head, leg and shoulder room is good for anyone and everyone who takes a seat.


Peugeot – £25,000 – £33,000

Verdict Of Our 2017 Kia Optima Diesel Saloon Review

This is a handsome saloon that’s pushed its way onto lots of families shortlists. With its aggressive looks, low running costs and power it’s looking to breathe life into a sector that’s largely dying. If you want value for money, good economy and plenty of interior space, the Kia Optima Diesel Saloon is well worth a test drive.

Kia Optima Diesel Saloon

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Review of the Model

Kia Optima Review

9th June 2016

The Korean car manufacturer Kia has turned heads in recent years, with its rise from budget-cars to business-cars now seemingly complete with the arrival of the new Kia Optima. This may well be the most exuberant, ambitious car that Kia has yet produced, and it’s one which its unsuspecting rivals in the Mondeo-sized medium range…

Presented by Will Titterington


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