With this in mind, Kia has increased the wheelbase by 10mm, the width by 25mm and the height by 10mm. The bodyshell is made with 50 percent more high-strength steel than before, while the use of structural adhesive is up by a whopping 450 percent.
This increases torsional rigidity by 50 percent, helping safety, refinement and handling. There are also different bushes for the cross members, an additional lower link for the rear suspension and plenty more soundproofing.
Under the bonnet, both the saloon and sportwagon use the familiar 1.7 CRDi turbodiesel, now with an additional 5bhp and 11Ib ft. More important, this twist is available 250rpm further down the rev range than before, at 1750rpm. For the first time there is also a hybrid version of the saloon powered by a 202bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine alongside an electric motor.
There’s also a smorgasbord of active safety features available, such as lane-keeping assist, an around-view monitor, active cruise control, auto braking, a rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.
Like the old model, it’s still a handsome saloon that offers bags of space inside. Unlike the old model, it now steers and rides with aplomb and feels much more like a quality item inside.
Sure, it’s no Passat, but with prices kicking off at less than £22,000, that’s not a surprise. Importantly, any solid, scratchy plastic is banished to areas you won’t often touch, and it at least looks decent enough.
The dashboard and door bits you do come into contact with are all pleasingly squishy, while buttons have a solid action when pressed. Only the knobs for the heater and stereo feel a tad flimsy.
The button count is most definitely down, although some controls around the gearlever aren’t the most intuitive. At least both 7.0in and 8.0in versions of the touchscreen infotainment system are easy enough to navigate and appear to be free from lag. Sat-nav is standard, while a 10-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo comes with the 8.0in system.
The seats both front and rear are comfortable whether they were covered in cloth or leather, the latter trim feeling like a decently thick and waxy hide. There’s plenty of seat adjustment for the driver, too, and even with a six-footer up front, leg room in the back is exceedingly generous.
On the equipment front there are three trims to choose from for both the saloon and sportswagon, with the PHEV getting its own trim.
Choose the entry-level 2 trimmed Optima and you will find 17in alloys, electric windows, heated and folding door mirrors, hill start assist and parking sensors on the outside, while inside there is dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, Bluetooth, DAB radio, cruise control and USB ports in the front and rear.
Upgrade a level and it will adorn your Optima with 18in alloys, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats and steering wheel and Kia’s safety technology, while the range-topping GT-Line S equips the car with a sporty bodykit, dual exhaust, rear diffuser and adaptive LED headlights on the outside, and luxuries such as rear sunblinds, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, leather upholstery, a 360-degree camera and wireless phone charger on the inside.
The PHEV saloon gets its own trim level which includes adaptive LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, cruise control and a faux leather upholstery, alongside Kia’s fully-loaded 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system complete with 10-speaker Harman and Kardon stereo set-up.