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Kia Optima wagon would do well in Canada

Sportswagon set to make debut in Geneva and hit showrooms in Q4 2016

Kia Optima Sportswagon

Kia will be announcing plans at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show about the expansion of its popular Optima lineup with a new wagon due in dealerships before the end of 2016.

Inspired by the Sportspace Concept shown at last year’s Geneva show, the Kia Optima Sportswagon shares the exterior look of the 2016 Optima, at least from the B-pillars forward, as well as the interior from the instrument panel to the rear seats.

“The Optima is credited with kick-starting the brand’s design-led transformation,” says Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer, Kia Motors Europe. “The Sportspace concept was a clear intention of where we wanted to take the Optima next, and the Sportswagon adds an extra level of style and practicality to the well-received saloon.”

“This is an important product for Kia in Europe, and it will increase our presence in this hugely important segment,” he added. “In Europe, two thirds of all sales in the D-segment, and three quarters of all fleet sales in this class, are made up of tourers, so the Optima Sportswagon will play a critical role in attracting new private and corporate buyers to the brand. This is an important conquest product for Kia.”

That philosophy bodes well for Canada because our market is similar in consumer acceptance of 5-door bodystyles to that of Europe, but unfortunately Kia Canada has decided to follow the lead of the U.S. and not import the car at this time.

In Europe, the Optima Sportswagon will come in a choice of trim levels powered by gasoline and diesel engines — a 1.7-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel, 2.0-litre 4-cylinder, and the turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder used here on the GT model — and a choice of 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions, though the turbodiesel gets the 7-speed dual clutch automatic Canadian Optimas pair up with the 1.6-litre turbocharged “four.”

The Sportswagon sits on the same platform as the sedan — 4,855 mm long by 1,860 mm wide — but increases its overall height by 5 mm, to 1,470 mm, with the roof tapering off from the midpoint of the car to a raked rear window for a sportier look on the traditional wagon bodystyle.

The European market will offer a choice of nine exterior colours and ride on alloy wheels ranging in size from 16 to 18 inches in diameter. The Canadian Optima sedan has only eight exterior colours and the same wheel sizes, depending on trim.

The driver focussed, natural-tone interior (single or dual-tone) holds the modern suite of amenities and technologies, from a high degree of softtouch materials to connections to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, surrounded in cloth or leather, and highlighted in metallic accents. Superior insulation keeps noise well controlled in the cabin.

But the big news of the interior is, naturally, the expansion of the cargo area that is nearly double that of the sedan when vertical height is considered, thought the company measurement below the window line pegs it at 553 litres. The sedan lists cargo space at 450 litres. Among its notable features are a cargo net built into the back of the 40/20/40 split folding rear seatbacks, pop-up rails to secure cargo that might otherwise want to wander about, and a compartmented sub-floor. And the cargo area is hands-free accessible without the need to insert a key or pull a lever.

Also of note is Kia’s first application of its audio-visual navigation system, fitted with either a 7-inch or 8-inch touchscreen, which fully supports DAB digital radio (which is available in several European and Asian countries but never really took root in North America) and TomTom live traffic updates, speed camera alerts and weather forecasts. There is also on-board wireless charging of compatible mobile devices, with the charge level displayed in the instrument cluster. Charging can also be done through USB ports front and rear.

Audio is provided through six speakers standard, or optioned up to 590-watt Harman Kardon Premium Sound system using eight speakers and external amp and subwoofer.

The car also features around-view monitoring through four cameras to provide an overhead view during parking manoeuvres, automated parallel or reverse parking, and dynamic headlights that sweep the road ahead in coordination with the steering, as well as automatically adjusting high-beams.

Other driving aids include stability management, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking for collision mitigation (which reportedly works at short and long distances and to prevent or lessen collisions not just at city speeds but also at higher speeds), lane keep assist, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert, among others.

The Optima Sportswagon for Europe will be built at Kia’s Hwasung manufacturing facility in Korea, as are sedans, though the North American sedan is sourced out of Georgia.

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