Kia Optima K5 2.0 Review
Optimal Vision

Story and Photos by Raymond Lai
3 Mar 2011

With the new Optima K5, Kia’s styling chief Peter Schreyer has proven once again that he is the man that has transformed the Korean brand from an also ran to a serious contender.

Introduction, styling

Peter Schreyer is widely known as Mr. Kia. The German chief designer of the Korean car manufacturer can be singled out as the biggest contributor to Kia's rapidly rising fortunes in recent times. Schreyer's work at Kia has been so recognized by the Korean public as well as by his Kia colleagues that most people want a piece of him whenever he sets foot in Seoul.

Before joining Kia in 2006, Schreyer had been designer at VW Group for many years where he was famed for his work on the Volkswagen New Beetle and more importantly, the original Audi TT. When Kia wanted to focus more on design as a selling point for the brand, it engaged Schreyer to churn out a completely new design ethos for the brand from a blank sheet of paper. When Schreyer joined Kia, he admitted that Kia styling had a ‘neutral' image (which roughly meant they look nondescript).

Since the Soul and subsequent models like the hugely popular Cerato Forte, Forte Koup, Sorento and the Sportage though, Kia's styling is anything but bland or ‘neutral'. Not only Schreyer has successfully gave the brand's models an instantly recognisable corporate face with his ‘Tiger' grille, but the cars themselves have a stance that is brimming with confidence from any angle. And the latest Kia model, the Optima K5, brings this look of confidence to an even higher level.

The Optima K5 is the replacement for the unloved and often associated as a taxi Magentis and so competes in the highly competitive Camry class. Underneath the skin, the Optima shares its underpinnings and drive train with the Hyundai i45 but it is on the skin it self where the Optima really excites.

The Optima's styling is touted as a further evolution or the next phase of Schreyer's design language for the brand. Your eyes will be immediately drawn to the Optima's sleek profile which is accentuated by details like the curvature of the rear windscreen (which apes the last generation Mercedes CL coupe's), the swoopy, coupe like roof line, the way the upward kink on the rear side windows meet the elegant C-pillars, the wraparound head and tail lamps, power vents on the front wings, the crease along the flanks parallel to the window line, the LED daytime running lights strips on the bumper and so on. The ‘Tiger' grille has also evolved with a more thrusting stance - the Optima wears the grille more confidently than Schreyer's previous Kias.

Schreyer's attention to detail on the Optima's exterior ever goes as far as repeating the outline of the Tiger grille onto the top of the windscreen. Without a doubt, the Optima is one stunning looking large saloon. The slightly bling standard fit 18-inch alloy wheels shod with rubber band profile 225 section tyres and the subtle boot lid spoiler also adds some purposefulness to the Optima's stance. While its Hyundai i45 cousin looks somewhat overstyled with its overlapping creases and feature lines, the Optima's overall look should prove to be more timeless while looking no less distinctive than its Hyundai cousin.

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Engine Capacity 1998cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10.5:1
Power 165bhp @ 6200rpm
Torque 198Nm @ 4600rpm
Power to Weight 116.4 bhp per ton


Acceleration 10.9s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 202 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 13.2 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF


Body Type Sedan
(L x W x H)
(4,845 x 1,830 x 1,455) mm
Wheelbase 2,795 mm
Kerb Weight 1417 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 70 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs