07 January 2012

Kia Optima K5 - a brief design encounter

Kia Optima K5 replaced the forgettable previous Optima, with more evocative styling and very imposing stance. The sporty stance was attained via a very pronounced shoulder line, shallow glass house, thick C-pillar and large alloy wheels. The headlamps were stretched deep towards the wheel arches, likewise the sharply styled rear light lend a dynamic proportion, elastic-like appearance that ready to pounce anytime.

The Optima K5 landed in Malaysia on 27th of December 2011, right at the year end, to kick-start Naza-Kia Malaysia 2012 campaign right before it even begin. A teaser was published even before the date, establishing sufficient excitement to the public who have been long left without too many choice when it comes to mid-sized executive sedan. As the event unfold, so are the pricing, which was set at an ambitious RM143,888. It is now clear that Kia is intended to break the Japanese establishment not based on pricing alone, but on sheer emotive design, with equipment list that extends to the infinity.

For a start, the front end is dominated by large headlamp, which features auto-leveling HID Xenon, with Static Bending Light, essentially a headlamp that turned synchronized with the steering. The headlamps flanked the latest evolution of Kia corporate grille, which has a high-gloss black surround. Kia badge is prominently mounted up-high. 

The plunging bumper line lends an aggressive fascia expression. This is further accentuated by the LED DRL just above the fog lamp on the outer, lower edge of the front bumper.

Wheel arches are heavily flared, with a pronounced belt-line thanks to a broad spacing between the hood central bump and the fender upper edge. The crisp character line running along the waist is a  reminiscent of the much-loved BMW E60, especially with the side-gills. From this angle too one can see the sculpted wheel arch, a very un-subtle skirting on the sill, and also the arch-filling tyres with 18" alloy wheel. The "technical" look of the wheel does lend some "avant-garde" touch to the overall vehicle aesthetic. Seems that Kia does no wrong these days, especially on its product styling. The hiring of ex-Audi/VW designer is paying off, quickly and surely.

Many, many times, the exterior stylists of the car are more often that not to be infected by either one of these disease. The first one, the front stylist that did not communicate with the rear counterpart, resulting in multi-theme car that disjointed somewhere in between. The second virus on the other hand eats man courage and creativity, resulting in sparkling front end design, only to be gradually mellowed down towards the rear. Kia stylist team, well, are very healthy indeed, with no obvious symptom to any of the disease above. The rear styling is very Germanic in its lighting, solidly stretched to occupy the rear corner in as 3D as it can get. The rear light wrapped the side outer panel and the trunk lid in a very deep fashion. The upward rising bumper mating line, rise all the way into the rear light graphic, and continue to form a trunk character line on the upper lid. The high bumper then was cut back in the middle to cater low loading sill. The side profile of Optima K5 is also garnish with a unique chrome strip that run above the window line. The unusual feature start at the base of the front side window and continue to run along the roof line right to the rear windscreen base. What a stylish car!
One of the most prominent styling region of the K5, the mating point of door to C-pillar shutline, with chrome accent included. The uprising belt-line and plunging roof line result in slim glass-house.
As far as the exterior story is concern, the Kia Optima K5 does make some of its rival (particularly Japanese) appears like a flabby elephant. The tout surfacing is more menacing compared to softie bulge, the hard edge lighting is stronger-looking than heavily contoured out-of-the-body light design and finally the 18" alloy wheel make more sense than the puny 16" alloy wheel that adorn some other 4.9m car. Continue reading for the interior design story.

Its a similar story inside the car. While some of its rival adopt a soothing creamy buttered interior, or plain beige with plastic simulated aluminium look, the Optima K5 adopt a more sporty approach with its driver-oriented IP design, or 9.6 degrees angled to be precise. The IP is high-set, with the highest point extend all the way into the wrapped-around centre console. This, and shallow glass-line, results in well-cocooned cabin ambiance.
The upper surface of the door trim and IP are manufactured from soft-padded material. It is real soft touch, which impart a press-able surface finish. Kia really has upped its game in this section. The door inside handle is chrome-finished, unlike the silver painting found on some of its rival. The stubby gear know is lifted off the facelifted Forte, and it looks the part too, especially when surrounded by the stylish gear gate, and nicely trimmed on wooden finish.
The chrome-ringed meter binnacle housed some of the most stylish meter around. The white illumination combined with real colored-screen is really a class act. Forget some of its rival that housed a giant central screen that display the aircond and audio setting in monochrome, this is the real deal on what should be included in a car approaching RM150k mark! The screen is 3.5" item which is TFT LCD. It shows, among others the alignment of steering wheel, instantaneous fuel consumption, distance to empty and then some more. Like the Forte (and now Exora Bold Premium too), the video captured via the rear camera is displayed within the rear view mirror.

Interior features are rich. It has the usual AUX,iPOD and USB connection, truly keyless entry with starter button, a gigantic panoramic roof, soothing interior mood lamps, Bluetooth phone control, cruise control, Infinity sound system with 8 speakers and subwoofer, automatic dual-zone aircond and standard leather upholstery.
Paddle shift is part of the impressive equipment list

Floor-hinged aluminium pedal. Note the ECO button on the steering wheel

Cabin space is commodious with plush leather upholstery
Rear aircond outlet- a class-must these days

Centre console with dual zone aircond control and audio system

The gear console, stylish amalgamation of chrome, wood and plastic!
On the technical side, Kia Optima K5 is powered by 2.0L Dual-CVVT Theta II powertrain that churned out a high 165 bhp@6200 rpm and 198Nm@4600 rpm. The drive is channeled via 6 speed automatic transmission. It is front driven, which features ESP and Hill Start Assist. Performance claimed figure is 10.9 seconds century sprint . The usual 4 wheel ABS and EBD ( and disc brake too) are among the safety item complementing the 6 airbags. Additional safety measures are speed sensing auto door lock and impact sensing auto door lock.

Kia Optima is suspended by McPhersons struts up front and multi-link at the back. The 18" alloy is wrapped by 225/45 R18 tyres. The spare wheel are full size too, with similar 18" alloy wheel included. 

The Optima K5 is 4,845mm long, 1,830mm wide and 1,455mm tall. It rides on 2,795mm of wheelbase. For comparison, Honda ageing Accord is larger all around with 4,950 X 1,845 X 1,475 X 2,800mm respectively in the above arrangement. However, the Honda is less powerful at 156bhp@6300rpm and 189Nm@4300rpm. The base VTi (RM141,800) is very much spartan too. The VTi-L is a more credible challenger, but it a tad more expensive at RM149,800. The 2.0L Accord still lack most of the interior gadget of Kia Optima K5 though.

The Kia Optima K5 is priced at RM143,888 that include RM3,823 of insurance. Some communication with Kia sales personnel revealed similar story for Forte, whereby initially only limited units were brought in. The second batch of delivery will take about 3 month. For the moment, the Optima K5 is available only in 3 colors: Snow White Pearl, Bright Silver (3D) metallic and Platinum Gpahite (ABT) metallic.

Why bother buying a Japanese rival at the end of its life cycle? The decision case is much easier and stronger with a car this new and comprehensively equipped! 


King said...

Would love to get either this car or the Sonata YF, just rather concern on the level of back up service from Naza Kia although there is a 5 years warranty.

Admin MMN said...

I have the same concern too. If you read the lowyat forum on forte, especially in 2010, many people voiced out their concern even on spare parts availability.

However, a few close friend of mine now own Forte, and they have absolutely no issue about servicing it. Perhaps things are already better now.

Anonymous said...

I hope with the launch of the recent Kia Red Cube that is supposed to provide the 3S will alleviate the post sales issues as posted in other forums earlier!