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All-new 2016 Kia Optima revealed

The all-new 2016 Kia Optima has been revealed ahead of its global debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and is likely to spawn a wagon variant.

THE FOURTH-GENERATION all-new 2016 Kia Optima has been revealed in European specification ahead of its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. It’s expected to go on-sale in Europe later this year and in Australia early in 2016.

According to Kia, the new Optima “boasts a modern, new exterior, a bold interior design with more space for all occupants, an array of new technologies and a wide choice of efficient powertrains”. The third-generation model launched back in 2011, becoming one of the models that helped establish Kia as more than just a small car maker.

Interestingly, Kia announced, although it didn’t give away any details, that the new Optima would spawn another body style influenced by the Kia SPORTSPACE concept. This suggests the Optima will be available with a wagon body, but we’ll have to wait for final confirmation of this.

all-new 2016 Kia Optima revealed

Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer, Kia Motors Europe, commented: “When the current Kia Optima arrived on the global stage in 2010, it acted as the catalyst for the five-year, design-led transformation of Kia’s product range. Its combination of technology, design and refinement added greater depth to our model line-up and fundamentally changed the way that people saw the Kia brand.”

Cole added: “The all-new Optima retains the unique personality of its predecessor, and improvements to every aspect of the car will make it an even more compelling proposition to buyers – private and fleet – across Europe. It truly offers motorists something fresh, in a segment that’s typically among the most conservative.”

When it came to the look of the new Optima, Kia went for evolution rather than revolution. “Conceived under the watchful eye of Peter Schreyer, President and Chief Design Officer of Kia Motors, the all-new Optima offers more road presence than ever, with its contemporary surface detailing, sharp body lines and creases, and a more elongated sedan silhouette,” Kia said.

The all-new Optima’s wheelbase has been stretched by 10mm to 2805mm, with the full vehicle length growing 10mm to 4855mm. The new model is 25mm wider, at 1860mm, and 10mm taller (1465 mm). According to Kia these “changes enable a roomier and more comfortable cabin, with more head-, shoulder- and rear-seat leg-room and greater cargo capacity. From a styling perspective, the new dimensions afforded Kia’s designers the chance to introduce a more swept-back, dynamic shape”.

all-new 2016 Kia Optima revealed

With the 10mm growth in the wheelbase and reshaped seats, rear passengers now get 25mm more legroom than before. The wider body offers more shoulder room for all passengers (20mm and 17mm extra in front and rear), while the longer, higher roof results in greater headroom throughout the cabin (+5mm and +15mm front and rear).

In reshaping the front and rear seats, the interior design team also paid particular attention to seat comfort. Stiffer seat frames reduce the level of vibrations through the seats while improving seat durability and reducing the weight of each seat by 2.6 kg, while softer foam in the headrests, upper back and under-thigh supports allows occupants to nestle into the seats more comfortably. In the front, deeper side bolsters are made up of denser, more supportive foam.

all-new 2016 Kia Optima revealed

Boot space in the all-new Optima has grown minimally from 505 to 510litres (VDA), with the under-floor storage area and a wider boot opening “adding greater practicality”.

The bodyshell of the all-new Optima is stronger than ever thanks to extensive use of ultra-high tensile steel (UHTS). 50% of the body is now made up of UHTS – representing a 150% increase over that of the previous car (20%) – and boasts a 450% increase in the amount of structural adhesive used. The result is that torsional rigidity has been improved by 50% over the model that it replaces, while the body shell is also 8.6kg lighter. The higher-strength steel alloys have been applied to reinforce the A and B-pillars, side sills, roof, floor, front wheel arches and rear bulkhead, boosting the all-round structural integrity of the body.

Kia said its engineers have concentrated on reducing noise and vibration into the cabin and improving the car’s refinement on the road. Some of the most important innovations to reduce NVH include a larger under-floor cover and more effective windshield seals, each of which help to reduce wind noise by 2% while aiding aerodynamics. Increased dashboard insulation helps to reduce the level of engine noise in the cabin by around 4%, aided by general improvements to the acoustic refinement of most engines in the range. Larger cross-member bushings, front and rear, also isolate road noise, while reducing the level of vibration through the floor and steering wheel.

The new body, with the increased application of high-strength steel alloys, plays a major part in raising refinement levels. With a more rigid frame and stiffer body panels and engine mounts, the Optima successfully reduces the level of vibration through the cabin. 83% stiffer alloy wheels further cut vibrations resulting from contact with poor road surfaces. In turn, the stiffer body and wheels have enabled Kia engineers to make subtle changes to the car’s suspension geometry to further isolate vibrations and road noise without compromising the car’s dynamic abilities.

all-new 2016 Kia Optima revealed

Passive safety is further improved for occupants with the total number of airbags increasing to seven. The all-new Optima will be fitted as standard with driver, driver knee, passenger, two front side and two curtain airbags.

The all-new Optima will be a strong performer in global safety tests thanks to its suite of new technologies designed to avoid or mitigate the effects of a collision. Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) is fitted as standard (this is European spec, but Australian spec is likely to follow suit), ensuring stability under braking and cornering by controlling the car’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and electric motor-driven power steering if it detects a loss of traction.

The all-new Optima is available with a wide range of optional active hazard-avoidance technologies, depending on market. These will include:

▪Advanced Smart Cruise Control (SCC), which automatically adjusts the Optima’s speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front

▪Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)*, which employs a long-range radar detection system to detect a potential collision with another vehicle or pedestrian and help bring the car to a halt

▪Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), which detects the Optima’s position in relation to lane markings and takes automatic corrective action if it senses the car starting to draft without the use of indicators

▪High Beam Assist (HBA), which automatically adjusts headlamp range according to other vehicles and road conditions

▪Speed Limit Information Function (SLIF), displaying the speed limit in the driver’s instrument cluster based on cameras detecting roadside signs

▪Blind Spot Detection (BSD), with a visual warning in the door mirror when another car enters the driver’s blind spot

▪Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), which warns against other cars driving behind the Optima in car parks while reversing.

The Optima, when it arrives in Australia, is likely to undergo local suspension tweaking. But, according to the Korean car maker, the new Optima’s suspension package has been heavily revised. Kia’s engineers have moved the front and rear subframe mounting points further out towards the edge of the vehicle “for a smoother ride over uneven surfaces”. The front suspension has been upgraded from two bushing mounts to four to increase lateral stiffness, with more robust wheel bearings completing the front suspension changes. The result is “improved responses to steering inputs and greater traction around corners, while further reducing the time it takes for the suspension to settle after a more significant jolt in the road”.

At the rear, the all-new Optima receives larger dual lower arms – the previous generation Optima’s suspension was connected to the chassis with single links on each side – mounted with thicker, more absorbent bushings. These changes “have helped engineers achieve greater stability for the all-new model, and improved bump absorption”.

all-new 2016 Kia Optima revealed

“A first for any car in the D-segment”, the all-new Optima will be available with a wireless charger for mobile devices. Located at the base of the central console, the wireless charger lets users charge their phone on the move, without a wire connection. With ‘foreign object detection’, the 5W charging system activates when a compatible device is placed on the pad, and warns car security-conscious owners when they’ve left a phone on the charger as they leave the vehicle. The system displays the phone’s charging condition on the instrument cluster, and features a safety system to prevent overheating while in use.

The all-new Optima also features two USB charging points, one in the front and one in the rear, to allow passengers to charge mobile devices, depending on trim level.

Depending on market, other new available features will include: 360-degree Around View Monitor, with four cameras helping the driver to manoeuvre when parking by displaying a birds-eye view of the Optima on the touchscreen; Smart Parking Assist System (SPAS), which parks the car automatically in parallel and perpendicular spaces and helps drivers safely leave a parking space; and Dynamic Bending Headlamps, which sweep the road ahead in line with the steering wheel for greater visibility and improved safety at night.

In European spec, the majority of engine for the new Optima will be carried over from its predecessor but with significant tweaking. Kia is also planning a plug-in hybrid engine to launch in 2016 as well as “Kia Motors Europe’s first high performance sedan”.

More engine details and the Australian line-up will follow as the year rolls on.


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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober