It is one of two new Kia cars on to the market this year, with a plug-in hybrid version of the Optima following, and is also Kia's first foray into the D-Segment sector, where 66% of sales in Europe and 75% of fleet sales are taken up by estate cars.
Only available in Europe, here in the UK there are three trim lines available for the new Optima Sportswagon – 2, 3, and GT-Line S – the same as for the already available Optima saloon. And early in 2017, these options will be added to by a sporty high-performance GT version will make that four variants.
The Optima Sportswagon is the best of all worlds – stylish, comfortable, practical and versatile, with practicality given equal importance to style when designed. Nowhere is this more displayed than at the back where a wide tailgate and low lip make it easy to load heavy items, and (on the GT-Line S) a Smart Power Tailgate opens automatically when the smart key comes into close proximity for more than three seconds.
Inside, the 40:20:40 folding rear seats allow two people to travel in comfort while still leaving space for long loads, and all this has been achieved with only minimal changes to the dimensions of the Optima saloon. There is 552 litres of cargo space behind the rear seats, including two underfloor storage boxes, and up to 1,686 litres with the 40:20:40 split rear seats folded.
Based on Kia's SPORTSPACE concept that was a hit at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, the new Optima Sportswagon has only had modifications to its original idea where legislation or practicality considerations demanded it, which is why the look of the car is so similar to the saloon. In fact, the front half of the Sportswagon, as far back as the B-pillar, is identical. But then, towards the back, it changes, with a rising shoulder line, raked rear window and tapering roof changing it from a saloon into a sportier model, finished off by rear lamps wrapping themselves around the corners.
And then, when it comes to the GT-Line S, the style is turned on even more by GT-Line bumpers and side sills, bespoke 18" alloy wheels, full LED front lamps with automatic levelling, dynamic cornering lights, LED rear combination lamps, dual chrome-tipped exhaust system, satin chrome and body-coloured exterior door handles and silver metallic-trimmed side sill mouldings.
Inside the car, the driver realises that they are not only in a Sportswagon, they are also in a saloon, as the new car has the same modern, horizontally structured dash layout and the same high-quality fit and finish. And it is all geared towards drivability when it comes to the layout.
The centre console is angled to make access easier, and the central 7" or 8" touchscreen is positioned at the same height as the instruments to enable information to be quickly absorbed and acted upon. And the number of buttons and switches has been minimised too, with the touchscreen controlling many functions previously dependant on them.
Away from the dashboard and console, the interior is trimmed in black cloth, black cloth with faux leather or black leather, depending on which model is chosen, and black leather is standard on the gear lever and steering wheel; and the door switch panels, door handles and interior bezels are trimmed with either metallic paint or satin chrome.
It is no surprise that a car with the requirements of the Optima Sportswagon comes with a full suite of connectivity features, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, both connecting the car to the user's smartphone and, via pre-downloaded apps, giving access to many features including map navigation, music, and voice recognition.
There are USB charging points in the front and rear in every model, with the GT-Line S including a wireless charger for topping up the batteries of smartphones, and at the heart of everything is the latest Kia audio-visual navigation (AVN) system, operated via either the 7" or 8" touchscreen, and offering the full Kia Connected Services package powered by TomTom®. Linked to a rear parking camera, and featuring Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone connectivity with audio streaming, the system includes a DAB digital radio or, on grades 3 and GT-Line S, a 490-watt Harman/Kardon eight-speaker Premium Sound system with an external amplifier and sub-woofer and Clari-Fi technology.
Like the Optima saloon, which earned a five-star rating in Euro NCAP impact tests, the Sportswagon is as safe as houses, with 51% of the body made of advanced high-strength steels, particularly to reinforce the A- and B-pillars, side sills, floor and front wheel arches. On top of this there are six airbags fitted as standard.
Depending on model, the Optima Sportswagon is available with a series of features to supplement the driver's vision and control. Electronic Stability Control and Vehicle Stability Management come as standard, along with a reversing camera and audible front and rear parking sensors, but features such as Lane Keep Assist, Speed Limit Autonomous Information, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and High Beam Assist are available, either as optional extras or as standard on certain models.
The GT-Line S also has a 360-degree Around View Monitor and a Smart Park Assist System which automatically steers the car into parallel or perpendicular parking slots while the driver works the accelerator and brakes.
The Optima Sportswagon is powered exclusively by Kia’s 1.7- CRDi turbodiesel engine, which develops 139bhp and 340Nm of torque, and makes good use of Kia's Idle Stop & Go (ISG) engine stop/start system, which comes as standard, all the way as you accelerate from 0-60mph in 9.8 seconds (in manual: 10.7 in automatic) to a top speed of 124mph.
CO2 emissions on manual models are 113g/km, with an impressive 64.2mpg, while with the 7DCT dual-clutch automatic gearbox, 120g/km and 61.4mpg are achievable.
Models that feature the 7DCT automatic gearbox make use of the Drive Mode Select with three options - Normal, Eco and Sport – via the steering-wheel paddles.
Standard equipment on the optima Sportswagon matches that of the available saloon with some notable additions such as roof rails, a luggage area DC power socket, a handle for one-touch folding of the rear seats, a luggage side partition and a towing connection preparation. Level 3 adds a luggage rail system, boot lip trim and privacy glass in the rear doors, rear quarterlights and tailgate; and the GT-Line S adds in a Smart Powered Tailgate.
The entry-level 2 grade comes as standard with, amongst so much more:
Grade 3 upgrades some features and adds others, including:
And the top-of-the-range GT-Line S tops it all by supplementing the Grade 3 option with: