It seems hard to imagine today, but less than five years ago Kia had never produced a performance car in its entire history. Now there are four with the introduction of the Optima Sportswagon GT to join the recently launched Stinger GT S, Kia's stunning new gran turismo.
There are clear links between the new Optima Sportswagon GT and the Stinger GT S. Both were developed under the auspices of Albert Biermann, Kia's Head of Vehicle Test and High-Performance Development.
And the Optima Sportswagon GT is powered by a 2.0-litre T-GDi (Turbocharged Gasoline Direct injection) engine which also one of the three engines available on the Stinger. The engine incorporates an Electric Sound Generator which relays the engine note into the cabin via an actuator so that occupants can enjoy its sporting timbre.
As the sporting flagship of the Optima range it also benefits from an extensive list of high-technology features to aid drivers and keep them connected. Standard equipment includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system, Kia Connected Services featuring TomTom™, Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™ connectivity, a Smart Park Assist System (SPAS), a Speed Limit Information function (SLIF) and a wireless mobile phone charger.Performance for the modern world: the 2.0-litre T-GDi engine
The 2.0-litre unit in the Optima Sportswagon GT model develops a strong 241bhp at 6,000rpm, but of more use for a greater proportion of the time is the 353Nm of torque available from 1,400 to 3,500rpm, so that the car accelerates strongly at light throttle openings without the need for constant gear changing. The Optima Sportswagon GT can reach 60mph from standstill in 7.3 seconds and has rapid in-gear acceleration with all six ratios in the standard automatic gearbox.
The 2.0-litre T-GDi engine sits perfectly with Kia's policy of downsizing – using the smallest-capacity power unit for a given application while employing turbocharging and direct fuel injection to ensure strong power and torque. It features a scroll turbocharger, an electronically controlled wastegate and a new continuously variable valve timing system on both the inlet and exhaust sides to aid flexibility and responsiveness.
The driving flexibility it provides negates the need for high engine revs, minimising fuel consumption. The Optima Sportswagon GT is capable of up to 30.7mpg in the combined test cycle (NEDC 2.0), with CO2 emissions of 211g/km.
The six-speed automatic gearbox is linked to paddle shifters on the steering column so that more enthusiastic drivers can control gearshifts manually.
The Optima Sportswagon GT has been tuned specifically for European roads and features a bespoke suspension set-up with revised steering and brakes designed to sharpen handling responses and stopping power without damaging the smooth, compliant ride that is one of the most oft-praised features of Kia's business-class estate car.
The major difference compared with other models in the Optima range is the Electronic Controlled Suspension fitted to the GT version. This allows the damping force at each wheel to be adjusted individually by monitoring road conditions, steering inputs and the position of the accelerator pedal so that the suspension can adapt itself for a sportier ride or greater comfort, according to driving style. The system can be swapped between Normal, Sport, Smart and Eco modes via a Drive Mode Select switch.
The ride height of the GT model has also been lowered by 10mm and there are stiffer spring rates front and rear, firmer damping forces, a stiffer front anti-roll bar and firmer rear bushes to enhance body control and provide sharper turn-in. The Motor Driven Power Steering with rack-mounted electronic control system (R-MDPS) has been re-developed to provide greater steering feel and precision, while the brake discs have been enlarged by 30mm front and rear. Those at the rear are ventilated in the GT models. The Optima Sportswagon GT rides on 18-inch alloy wheels with 235/45 R18 tyres.
The Optima Sportswagon GT preserves the elegant, award-winning lines of other models in the range, but with subtle and sophisticated additions which clearly mark it out as the performance version in the line-up.
Kia has also modified the design of the Optima Sportswagon GT. For added style and on-road presence, the GT model feature new LED fog lamps and subtle gloss black mirror caps, side sills and air intake grille. Optima Sportswagon GT is distinguished by chrome dual exhaust tips.
The GT model stands out with its five-spoke 18-inch aluminium alloy wheels and satin chrome side strakes and door handles. At the rear, the GT models have a rear diffuser book-ended by dual exhaust outlets, and there are 'GT' badges on the tailgate.
Inside, the Optima Sportswagon GT models have the same refined, high-quality interior as non-GT versions, but with a more dynamic execution and function.
There are red leather sports seats with black bolsters and red stitching. The front seats feature an embroidered 'GT' logo and have larger side bolsters and taller thigh bolsters than other Optima models for added support. There is eight-way power adjustment and four-way power lumbar adjustment on the driver's side, and both front seats plus the outer rear seats are heated.
The Optima Sportswagon GT also features aluminium pedals and a black leather-wrapped D-shaped steering wheel with red stitching. Like the seats, the steering wheel has a 'GT' emblem. A unique instrument cluster further reflects the car’s performance credentials, with a digital turbo boost pressure gauge and a meter showing the torque output at any moment.
The Optima Sportswagon GT model is loaded with advanced technology features so that they are fully connected to enhance comfort, convenience and safety.
An 8.0-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system with European mapping is paired with a powerful 490-watt Harman/kardon® Premium Sound system with 8 speakers. It features an external amplifier, a subwoofer and Clari-Fi, which restores sound that is lost with heavily compressed digital music files.
The sound system also incorporates Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone connectivity with audio streaming, USB charging points in the front and rear and can be linked to Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™ via a suitable smartphone with pre-downloaded apps. Android Auto™ gives access to Google Maps navigation, Google Play music, hands-free calls and texts and voice recognition. Apple CarPlay™ enables full Siri voice control of the phone's apps and functions while linking the car to Apple Maps, calls and text dictation, music streaming and audiobooks. There’s a wireless charger for mobile devices, located in the base of the centre console.
At the heart of it all is the latest Kia audio-visual navigation (AVN) system. The screen is linked to a rear parking camera. The AVN system offers the full Kia Connected Services package powered by TomTom™. This provides live traffic updates, speed camera alerts and local point-of-interest and weather reports. It is provided free for seven years.
The Smart Park Assist System (SPAS) automatically steers the car in and out of parallel or perpendicular parking slots while the driver operates the accelerator and brakes. There are audible front and rear parking sensors.
The GT model has Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) and Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS), which automatically prevents the driver from straying into the path of another vehicle approaching from behind in an adjoining lane, and a Speed Limit Information function (SLIF), which is even capable of detecting when roadworks or overhead motorway gantries have changed the normal speed limit, and responds accordingly.
The GT model is the sporting flagship and equipped to reflect that. On top of the Electronic Controlled Suspension, Engine Sound Generator, 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, leather seats, premium sound system and GT styling changes, LED headlights and running lights, LED rear light units, rain-sensing front wipers, electrically operated and heated door mirrors with LED indicator, two-way steering wheel adjustment, a heated steering wheel, faux leather door and console armrests, stainless steel door scuff plates, dual automatic air conditioning, rear window blinds, all-round electric windows, an electronic parking brake, a smart entry system with engine start/stop button and a 4.3-inch TFT (Thin Film Transistor) supervision cluster with GT Performance Mode display.
The Optima Sportswagon GT features roof rails, a smart powered tailgate, towing connection preparation, 40:20:40 split folding rear seats and a one-touch folding system for the rear seats.
The Optima Sportswagon GT comes with Kia’s industry-leading seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, subject to conditions covering wear and tear items. The warranty is fully transferable to subsequent owners as long as the age or mileage limits have not been exceeded.
The Optima Sportswagon GT is available with Kia’s ‘Kia Care’ service plans, which have been developed to provide customers with a wide range of service plan options for any Kia model within the first seven years of the vehicle’s life – matching its industry-leading seven-year warranty.
The service plans include a comprehensive range of options including the original, traditional, first three and five services, but in addition a customer can now purchase services up to and including the seventh service which matches the full length of the warranty. The plans are available for all Kia owners and can be purchased at any point of ownership for cars up to five years old.
Max speed mph
Sportswagon ‘GT’ 2.0 T-GDi 6-speed automatic
Optima Sportswagon GT UK pricing
Sportswagon ‘GT’ 2.0 T-GDi 6-speed automatic