New Generation 2016 Kia Optima Eco

2016_Kia_Optima_Eco_062Text and photos by Cor Steenstra

Ever since the concept for the new Kia Optima was shows as a Sportsback at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015 I was looking forward to seeing the real car in person. Of course it would not be the Sportsback version, but I wanted to know how much they were willing to change a winning product. That is always a risky proposition, since you want to retain and build on your success, but you cannot afford to have the competition outpace you.

I have to say that thankfully Kia seems to have found that balance, keep it close to the original by basically making a solid facelift, but changing enough in the body in white to also make it be a different car. The third window on the side is the most dominant of those features, which from the inside doesn’t add all that much in visibility, but from the outside lengthens the greenhouse substantially, especially in the lighter body colors, to make it stand out from the previous version. The changed front fascia with the slimmer light units reaching further round the corner make it refreshed and more dynamic, and the new taillights only add to that impression.

To be totally honest, I am not as convinced of the interior. I really liked the first impression of the previous generation’s interior, and to me the new one seems like a step back from that. It is a bit more conservative, uses more carry over parts from other vehicles in the Hyundai and Kia line up. I don’t know if there was a logic to this decision, but I for one love a well developed new looking interior, and like the Hyundai Sonata, neither the most recent IP’s from that nor from this Kia look to want to play along. The Hyundai had the excuse that it’s new exterior also was not as modern as the previous one, but the Kia Optima does not have the same excuse.

 

All in all though, the new Kia Optima is a solid offering compared to its competition, in design, in quality and in execution, but if I were in charge at Kia I would make sure I keep my fingers at the pulse of design rather than the more conservative marketing bean counters. New was what made it sell, new was all good, and new is what is needed to stay there. Of course with Kia never over the top, but design management have shown to know where to strike that balance. Trust them.

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