Families come in all shapes and sizes (Even I have one) but throughout history, there have some families that have seemingly controlled more than their fair share of the world – they are surnames that can be famous or infamous but are ultimately synonymous with power. The likes of Rothschild (Banking), Kennedy (Politics), Corleone (Mafia – I chose the fictitious one for obvious reasons), Windsors (Royalty), Murdoch (Conventional Media) to name but a few. There are families (like the Kardashians) that appear to come out of nowhere and yet still have a surprising amount of sway over all that they touch. It’s hard to pinpoint why certain families have such a great influence over others; wealth obviously plays its part but there are many ineffective rich people out there too. Whatever the reason; one thing is for sure; power sure does make a difference.
A few months ago I had the chance to review the Kia Optima, it’s a really well appointed family sedan that is good in so many ways but I felt it lacked a little under the hood. However; they have just given me the keys to the Optima GT and I have to say, the whole package took me a little by surprise.
First and foremost the engine. Although (500) smaller in cc’s than standard, Kia have upped the ante with a 2L turbocharged (Twin Scroll) powerhouse that delivers up 180kW (42 more) and an impressive 350Nm (109 more) But it also has a very strong growl to it, so much so that I had to double check that it wasn’t a V under the nose. It’s a delightful note (under revs – in sport) but also has the ability to quietly go about its business too (Normal and Eco). 0-100kph can be achieved in a reported 7.4 seconds with a top speed of 240kph. Luckily we had booked a weekend away at the Mount and Tauranga which meant a looong drive and plenty of time to merge the Optima GT into my own family.
As usual, we had packed enough stuff to last us for at least a week and yet it looked barely anything at all inside the huge (510 Litres) boot. I closed the lid quickly in case ‘we’ decided to pack more. The cabin space is large too, my 6 year old son looked positively dwarfed in the back seat. On the subject of seats, the driver’s seat in the GT is 10 way electric adjustable and 2 way heated/ventilated for both driver and passenger. Oh and they are black leather with a sporty red stitch.
Having driven the Optima before I did in fact know my way around it, but somehow in the GT it all made sense. Infotainment through the 8” touch screen is a breeze. Phone connectivity simple (although the calls did drop out a few times even in the city). The Sat Nav was easy to use and loading the Hotel destination was very intuitive. It also has a ‘pinch and poke’ mapping system, which meant that I could move the map around and set a destination in the general area I wanted to go (this will all make sense when you try it out for yourself).
Turns out that Cruise control is ‘adaptive’ and (once it had locked onto the car in front) the GT took over braking and acceleration duties – I just had to concentrate on maneuvering the D shaped leather steering wheel (which can even be heated).
The system guided us through the picturesque Karagahake gorge, a place where the GT’s precise steering and handling seemed to enjoy (the rack mounted power steering system and high performance suspension dampers really coming into their own) then the SUNA (traffic avoidance system), rerouted us through the countryside avoiding Waihi (I was dubious at first but it really did save time).
Arriving surprisingly fresh at the hotel, we ditched the bags and headed to the beach. As expected, the Mount was mobbed and parking spaces were a premium, The Optima’s parking sensors and reversing camera getting a real workout. We walked round the mountain (the climb to the peak will have to wait for another visit) and retired back to the hotel for some well deserved R&R.
The return trip was equally impressive, with a quick stop at the Crown Mines to see if there was any gold in ‘them there hills’ – There wasn’t. With the re-calibrated 6 speed box, the GT handled the weekend of driving and still had fuel left in its 70L tank (8.5L/100k), enough for a couple of days commute.
The new Kia Optima GT has all the power and maneuverability that I had wished for in the standard one and well worth the extra few bucks. From a family sedan point of view, it’s got plenty of room and heaps of safety tech to satisfy any anxious parent plus it’s got the sportiness and refinement at your fingertips when you want to stretch its legs.
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