Russ B bought this Kia Optima new for $40,000 (including all on-road costs). Russ B will not buy this car again because: “There are many objective things you can measure with a car, such as power, acceleration, economy, weight and towing capacity.
However, an important subjective measurement is how the car makes you feel.
Does it put a smile on your face during the school run? When you merge onto the on-ramp and accelerate to 110 km/h, does it feel exciting? When you’re driving a pink 1997 Hyundai Excel (with stickers) at the exit merge to beat the pesky P plater, how quick and engaging is the steering?
The Kia Optima GT feels like your favorite tracksuit pants. You love these pants because they can do everything, unless you need a good result. Good for watching TV. Perfect for shuffling around the house. Great for a zoom meeting – if you have a nice shirt – but terrible for grandma’s funeral. Not that she would mind.
So when you really want to put your foot down in this beautiful GT car, the Optima just doesn’t deliver. Turbo lag, a dumb gearbox – as confusing as facing a dachshund up a flight of stairs – and no GT suspension at all, equates to a 7/10th car at best. The GT will eventually get up and bogey, but it doesn’t engage. Optima lacks precision. This is not a true GT car. It’s a nicely appointed, warmed-up Korean sedan, dressed to the nines but delivering seven on a good day.
I have driven the Optima more than any other car in my entire life. It was fine. It was decent. But I won’t buy it again because I’m bored out of my mind driving it. There is no X factor. There is no fun. The only lag is when you remotely want to do something like Sport or GT and the feeling that the car doesn’t want to do anything outside its comfort zone.
In 2016 it was one of the best value sedans available in the Australian market. But today it does not stand up against the competition.
I bought the Optima new six years ago, and at that time it had three problems. Given the number of electronics and the sheer number of features in the car, this was not a major issue. The main problem was that it made five trips to the dealership to fix a faulty wing mirror.
And finally, after changing it, it went from white to green after six months. it’s fine. green Like a sad faded Kermit.
Imagine leaving your favorite Wrigley’s gum under your cousin’s couch for a month. The white wing mirror went full zombie. Probably acceptable for old chewing gum. But not for brand new, Kia factory-supplied white wing mirrors. I had the wing mirror resprayed after a minor scuff. I could not go back to the dealership a sixth time to discuss this.
When the camera-based autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and auto headlight modules failed, it was only three or four trips! And now the air conditioning has failed. But I haven’t been able to get to my local Kia dealership for over a month, so the AC hasn’t been repaired over the winter. Thank goodness for heated seats.
I think that’s not too bad over a six-year period.
If you are good friends with your Kia service manager, the ownership experience will be fantastic. You will be able to see them regularly for the same issue and talk about the same thing over and over again. As you do in the pub after your sixth schooner. Same old nonsense story.
That’s assuming you can actually get to a Kia service center within a reasonable time frame. I have been out for about a month to get my AC repaired but I have been told that it has more time for servicing. I only came initially because Cheryl and I are friends now.
The service people are quite friendly, it takes too long and too much travel time to do anything. This has been a consistent theme for both of my Kias. To be fair, I don’t know if it’s much different from other automakers, since I’ve only been to a Kia dealership in the last six years.
Service experience disappoints me with Kia brand. I can’t imagine what it would be like to buy a new $90,000 EV6 and have to wait several weeks for spare parts, assuming you can get in a reasonable amount of time for them to diagnose the problem.
The service experience is the main reason I will not buy another Kia.
The shopping experience at the Kia dealership in Brisbane was fantastic. They gave me a decent trade in and a good price, since I bought two Kias at the same time. An Optima GT, and a Sorento Platinum (now GT Line) diesel. It was about $100,000 worth of Kias.
Really friendly, professional and no pressure. The whole process felt great.
Aftercare at my local Kia dealer in Gold Coast was 100%. As I mentioned in the first review, the experience was not pleasant.
They are decent people but just can’t live up to reasonable expectations. Too many visits for basic warranty repairs. Long days without a car. I got a Christy car once in six years and had the car serviced 100% at the same dealership.
The Kia Optima GT is certainly well equipped. I can’t think of many features that are missing. Heated and cooled seats. Active radar cruise. Autonomous emergency brake. Decent hard-wearing leather interior with sunroof. Excellent steering wheel and driving position.
Good power from the 2.0L, 180kW, 350Nm turbo engine, noting noticeable lag. Excellent room for rear passengers. I bought it with about 150km on the odometer, so it was effectively a demo.
I paid $40,000 on the road for it which is fantastic for the level of equipment and performance on paper. I don’t think you can get something like this car today with so much equipment, for so little money.
In 2016, this Kia really delivered on features, looks and pricing.
180kW/350Nm is the same power output as the car it replaces. My E90 BMW 330i (190kW/300Nm). These cars drive and power completely differently. Like onions and ice cream.
The BMW had sport suspension and was a precise, precise tool. You can clinically eat a road sweeper in a BMW. You deliver that kick with that sneaky button under the accelerator pedal and that quick throttle response feels good. Power delivery was very linear.
I had a lot of confidence in BMW to get the job done safely and quickly. And don’t get me started on how that straight six naturally aspirated BMW masterpiece looked.
I didn’t need a Bible in that 330i. Because every time I played it, I was having a religious experience. But of course, expected BMW reliability and ex-warranty repair costs were costing dollars faster than a BMW heated seat subscription in Canberra. But enough about my needy ex-girlfriend.
Optima is like that “friend” you had in high school. You know that guy who will never get off the bean bag? He may commit to going to the movies but then not show up. He is vague. You can never get a straight answer from him. You like him, but you can’t really trust him to do anything right or accurately. That friend is Optima. GT bean bag.
Performance is fine up to about 7/10ths and then it falls into a heap. The suspension lacks firmness for sporty driving and is not soft enough for a very comfortable ride. If you throw it into a corner too fast, it feels wrong. There’s too much mass up front and the suspension isn’t set up well, even though I’m running Michelin PS4 tires.
If you install the correct boot, you should wait for things to happen. If you’re in a hurry, allow for a one-second delay, due to the combination of turbo lag and the “dumb as a bag of hammers” gearbox.
It’s not fun. Forget using the pedals on the wheel. The power delivery and lack of precision with the gearbox is a disadvantage, even in “Sports mode”. Sports mode should be labeled “optimist mode” in all honesty.
Once you get above 60km/h it has plenty of power for most people. It’s just that the power delivery feels annoying. Especially coming from the old but excellent ZF six-speed automatic in the E90.
The Optima averages 1L/100km around town and about 8L/100km on the highway, which was decent in 2006 but not competitive today.
Technology was great for 2016. Everything you could need, except for Android Auto and CarPlay.
As far as I can tell there is no aftermarket solution to convert to the new system. So you’re stuck with maps from 2016 or you can pay a hefty price to the dealership to get the maps updated.
The adaptive cruise is expertly calibrated and confidence-inspiring. Auto headlights and auto high beams are very quick to respond. And the premium audio system in the Optima GT is fantastic at this price point.
You’ve never heard Bon Jovi or Bryan Adams sound so sincere in Kia, and my kids will never want to hear them again. The car has two subwoofers. He’s completely sick, so I’m told.
The Optima GT fits the bill for a car… mostly. It is generally relevant in the urban scene. However, there is some firmness that doesn’t help handling as much as it should.
I’d rather set up a suspension with a more sporty approach or commit to a slightly softer ride. Middle GT Ground doesn’t work in this case.
Once you get up to speed on the highway, the Optima delivers a relaxed GT experience. It works reasonably well at high speeds, and you can eat up the distance with confidence. You don’t need as many gear changes at high speeds, so turbo lag increases less.
The engine ECU limits torque in first and second gear, causing the car to feel a little off the mark. That “feature” doesn’t manifest itself at high speeds. It pulls at a speed of more than 80 kmph. There is almost no torque steer. I wish there was. It can actually be fun.
The steering of this car is excellent. The GT features rack-mounted electric-assisted power steering versus the column-mounted one on the standard Optima, which improves the feel altogether. The steering wheel is flat bottomed and looks fantastic. The leather feels good and has hardly worn over six years. I always make sure the tires are at the correct air pressure to take full advantage of the steering. Sport mode loads the wheel but not much.
The Optima is confident at high speeds and when I need to cover some serious distance. But the GT is disappointing when driving in urban environments. It’s just walking around with its head down and doesn’t really want to do anything special. GT will do what you tell him to do, but he’s not happy about it. It’s not exciting. It’s not trying to get you to do something naughty.
Handling compromises have not been achieved, although I believe this vehicle had its suspension built locally.
Kia aimed for BMW and delivered microwaved Weet-Bix.
Despite some of my comments, this is the best value car I’ve ever owned. You can travel long distances comfortably. It has all the technology you need. It is reasonably powerful. It looks fantastic. The interior is hardly worn. The seven-year warranty is fantastic – once you can actually get to the dealership.
It wasn’t too expensive at $40k. Right now at this price point it’s almost impossible to replace this car with so much equipment.
They no longer sell the Optima GT in this market. I understand that the new US 2022 Optima model is an impressive improvement in every respect, but Australians want a station wagon with an acronym.
The Optima GT doesn’t just make you feel good. On paper it looks like it can do it all. But it cannot be. It lacks precision, and it lacks fun.
Too bad the Kia Optima GT was killed in action.
I’ll check myself out.