The upgraded Kia Optima Hybrid was unveiled by Kia Motors at the Geneva Motor Show, marking the European debut of this streamlined saloon with a drag coefficient of just Cd 0.26 in its latest form.
Visually, the new Optima Hybrid is little changed, with only new bumper designs and a revised grille. However, the subtle differences make the car look more mature and finely tuned. Contrary to the subtle design flourishes on the exterior, interior options have gained a boost as the new ‘White Package’ interior option becomes available. Providing owners with a thoroughly modern scene more akin to sci-fi films than real world vehicles, the white interior is recommended only for those who don’t wear dirty jeans or other clothing that will doubtless mark it within seconds. That perhaps comments on the target audience of Kia’s flagship hybrid as the car is certainly aimed more at the white collar worker.
Unfortunately, the Optima Hybrid is only available in left-hand drive with Kia not intending to import the vehicle to the UK. Likewise, the alterations in the new car are only skin deep since the upgraded Optima has had no powertrain upgrade. That said, this still provides decent figures for both economy and performance. The regenerative braking system on the other hand is now in it’s third iteration and is a whole 1.2 kilos lighter than version two. The new system is also faster reacting with the help of a new iBAU (Integrated Brake Actuation Unit). This has the effect of reducing the time delay in activating ABS and shortening braking distance as a result. As an added bonus, this also improves pedal response for the driver.
The latest Optima Hybrid will also be fitted with a range of new features, including a new touchscreen interface specific to the Hybrid system, an 8-inch display for the navigation system, iPod connectivity, ventilated front seats and air vents in the rear of the cabin. A new ‘High Tech Pack’ is available as an option, incorporating Blind Spot Detection, Lane Keep Assist and Smart Parking Assist systems.
Production of the upgraded Kia Optima Hybrid is scheduled to start in Korea during April 2014 and the new model will go on sale across Europe later this year.