Kia Motors America (KMA) launched the redesigned Optima at the New York International Auto Show five years ago, introducing a game-changing D-segment sedan that acted as a catalyst for the brand’s design-led transformation. History has repeated with the global debut of the all-new 2016 Optima today in New York – the new car is a symbol of the Kia brand’s maturation through continuous refinement and obsessive attention to detail. An instant hit with consumers looking for a fresh alternative to an otherwise staid segment, the Optima has become one of Kia’s top-selling vehicles around the world – and the brand’s best-seller in the USA for three consecutive years – and the all-new model is poised to continue that success.
Conceived under the watchful eye of Kia’s president and chief design officer, Peter Schreyer, with modern and instantly recognisable design cues, the Optima maintains its athletic identity but rides on a chassis that is longer, wider and stiffer, for improved ride and handling and a more spacious cabin. The all-new Optima’s roomier, more luxurious cabin features an impressive level of craftsmanship that will come as standard with every trim level when sales begin globally in the fourth quarter of 2015. As with its predecessor, the all-new Optima for Europe will be built at Kia’s plant in Hwasung, Korea. European pricing will be announced closer to the vehicle’s launch date.
“The Optima changed the way people felt about the Kia brand, and KMA owes much of its growth and success to its head-turning design and sporty performance. It was – and still is to this day – a fresh alternative in the D-segment sedan segment, and it amplified a five-year design-led transformation that propelled Kia to record-setting sales year-on-year,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, sales and marketing, KMA.
“The all-new Optima retains the signature personality of its predecessor, but we’ve literally improved everything, providing more space, better ride and handling, more technology and greater refinement.”
Instantly recognisable European design
Because the previous generation Optima was such a success story for the brand, Kia’s designers had to strike a delicate balance, retaining the identity of the vehicle while, at the same time, making a confident move forward to keep the car modern and fresh. Sweeping contemporary surfaces and modern architecture inspired the design of the all-new Optima, revealing a refined and dynamic sedan that is instantly recognisable as a Kia, yet has more road presence than ever.
The all-new Optima is boldly designed to be functional and sporty, with exterior dimensions that are marginally longer, taller and wider. The wheelbase has been extended to 2,805 mm (increased by 10 mm), and the vehicle has been widened to 1,860 mm (increased by 25 mm). Both changes enable a roomier and more comfortable cabin with more head room, shoulder room and rear seat leg room. The increased dimensions also allow for more cargo capacity in the trunk.
The aggressive front pulls the sheet metal taut over the wheel arches, and the swept-back headlights reach deeply into the bumpers. In higher-specification models, Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille is hot stamped and composed into an advanced pinpoint design that bears a strong resemblance to Kia’s new Sorento SUV.
The glass area maintains the raked A-pillar and sweeping C-pillar that lend the Optima its sports-sedan appearance. The rear quarterlight windows kick up smartly just ahead of the carved rear wing. As with its predecessor, the all-new Optima incorporates a raised boot lid, and optional LED halo-style tail lights give the car a modern new light signature.
Depending on market and specification, the new Optima will ride on alloy wheels ranging from 16- to 18-inches in size.
Exquisite interior craftsmanship
The new Kia Optima’s interior is larger and more comfortable, with an innovative and functional cabin that is well-appointed with a range of design and features from cars in the class above. Drawing inspiration from Kia’s global range of premium and luxury sedans, the Optima utilises more soft-touch materials throughout the passenger compartment. The Optima’s luxurious interior is obsessively crafted with an impressive attention to detail and features real stitching along the dash and doors, complemented by tasteful metallic accents depending on specification.
The driver-oriented cabin has been simplified with a cleaner, more unified design than the previous generation, with a stronger horizontal plane and a wider centre console that help create a greater sense of space. By grouping and reducing the number of functional keys and buttons, Kia’s already-superior ergonomics are markedly improved.
The interior design team also paid particular attention to seat comfort. A stiffer seat frame reduces vibration, and soft foam in the headrest, upper back and thigh support allows occupants to nestle into seats with deeper side bolsters made with denser, more supportive foam.
Convenience and technology
The Kia Optima will continue the brand’s trend of offering a range of premium technology and convenience features.
Available on every Optima is a rear-camera display, while a 360-degree Around View Monitor will be available depending on market. Optional driver-assistance technology will include Advanced Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) – which, under appropriate conditions, will bring the vehicle to a complete stop to potentially avoid a collision or reduce damage. The Optima’s AEB system also detects pedestrians, ensuring even greater safety credentials for the brand’s new sedan. As with other Kia models fitted with many of these technologies, such as the third-generation Kia Sorento SUV, they are designed to make the task of driving easier and safer.
The Kia Optima will also be available at launch with TomTom’s state-of-the-art connected services technology, providing real-time information to enhance the safety, comfort and enjoyment of every journey. TomTom’s services will help Kia drivers to save time on the road by identifying the fastest route for each journey using accurate traffic information. Drivers will also receive alerts about fixed and mobile speed cameras, as well as location-centric information on local shops, services and businesses, and prevailing weather reports. TomTom connected services will be available to Optima buyers free of charge for seven years after the car’s purchase.
Also available for the first time on any Kia vehicle are Bi-function HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Lamps (DBL) and intuitive High Beam Assist (HBA), which recognises oncoming traffic and automatically switches the lights to low beam until the opposing vehicle has passed.
Smart performance and safety
The all-new Optima features a uniquely engineered body that combines various high-tensile strength steel alloys and sits on a chassis that is stiffer and more durable thanks to the increased use of ultra-high strength steel. More than 50 per cent of the body is constructed from ultra-high tensile strength steel, representing a 150 per cent increase over the previous car. The greater use of structural adhesive – increased by more than 450 per cent over the previous generation – improves NVH and contributes to greater structural rigidity. Engineers also added more hot stamped components to the all-new Optima, a 350 per cent increase over the outgoing model. This body structure helps provide crash protection, better driving dynamics, and is the foundation for a quieter ride.
Additional innovations were implemented to reduce NVH, lighten the vehicle and enhance aerodynamics. The new Optima is the first Kia to feature a panoramic sunroof support structure made with carbon fibre-reinforced plastic, which helps reduce weight and lower the vehicle’s center of gravity. A larger full floor under cover helps reduce wind noise and aid fuel efficiency, while increased dash insulation, added windshield side molding and the increased use of structural adhesive ensure a quiet ride with reduced road and wind noise. Engine mounts, body panels and wheels are all stiffer on the new Optima, reducing vibrations and engine and road noise. Larger cross-member bushings are utilised to help isolate road and engine noise, as well as reducing engine vibration through the floor and steering wheel.
Improving ride and handling was a top priority for Kia’s engineers. Overall, the chassis is lighter and stiffer, resulting in improved steering response, high-speed stability and handling. Moving the suspension mounting points of the front and rear sub-frames outward optimises suspension geometry for a smoother ride over uneven surfaces. Where the previous Optima made do with dual bushing mounts, increased lateral stiffness was achieved with a four-bushing mount system for both sub-frames. The increased stiffness pays dividends in improved steering response and tractability through corners. More robust wheel bearings at the front and the addition of larger dual lower control arms at the rear also help refine the all-new Optima’s ride and handling characteristics. Available Rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (R-MDPS), replacing the current-generation’s column-mounted system, improves steering response with a quicker steering ratio.
New powertrains balance sportiness and efficiency
The all-new Optima will be available with a range of engines and transmission in Europe, striking a fine performance balance between sportiness and fuel efficiency. Engines have been re-engineered for greater fuel economy and better performance, aided by improved drivability with maximum torque made available at lower engine speeds. Every engine in the all-new Optima will power the front wheels. European powertrain details for the all-new Kia Optima will be announced later in 2015.
The new model will go on sale in Europe towards the end of 2015, offered as standard with Kia Europe’s unique 7-Year, 150,000 km warranty.