Kia Optima K5 2.0, Toyota Camry 2.0 Review
Throwing down the gauntlet

Story and photos by Raymond Lai
27 Sep 2012
 

The Kia Optima is the venerable Camry’s biggest threat in the large family saloon market. Can the Camry see off the aggressive Korean onslaught in the Optima? Raymond Lai plays judge.

Introduction, styling

In the past, one of the most popular genres in the Asian music scene was J-pop, short form for Japanese Pop. At its peak, Japanese artists like Ayumi Hamasaki, Utada Hikaru, Naime Amuro, Glay and so on belted out countless albums and concerts to satisfy the hunger for J-pop. These days though, the J-pop scene is pretty much quieter in comparison. This could be attributed to the rise of K-pop or Korean pop from across the Sea of Japan. K-pop bands like Wonder Girls, BoA and Super Junior have become the darlings of teenagers around the world, transforming K-pop into more of a culture rather than just a music genre.

The popularity of K-pop has a knock-on effect in the popularity of Korean products like consumer electronics and cars. In the case of cars, the Koreans have been making inroads into the market share of Japanese brands all over the world. The Japanese car makers are not sitting on their laurels though – they’ve been launching new models in recent times in a bid to see of the Koreans. One of these important new Japanese models is the Toyota Camry. How then will the conservative Camry fare against a competitor from Korea that is bold and refreshing in the Kia Optima K5?

Peter Schreyer’s designs for Kia have been nothing short of a revelation for the Korean brand. 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 Kia’s large saloon model and Camry competitor, the Optima K5, brings this look of confidence to an even higher level. One glance at the Optima and your eyes will be immediately drawn to the its sleek profile which is accentuated by details like the curvature of the rear windscreen, 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. The 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.

Next to adventurous looking and bold Optima, the Camry looks almost too understated and mundane. Like its predecessor, the latest Camry is specifically designed to suit Asian tastes. Its styling is quite different from the American model, featuring more chrome on the exterior for a more elegant and classier look overall. Compared to its predecessor, the new model looks more chiseled and features tauter lines for a more assertive look overall. The lashings of chrome at the rear further add to the Camry’s classy and elegant look. When it comes to dimensions, the Camry is 20mm shorter than the 4845mm Optima.

The 2-litre Camry tested here, features slightly different styling details from the Hybrid model that we’ve previously tested. Details like the radiator grille, front bumper and alloy wheels mark the 2.0 out from other Camry variants.

All in all, there’s nothing wrong at all about the Camry’s conservative styling but the Optima’s looks does inject a breath of fresh air into this class and it does somewhat look the more appealing here.


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Engine

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

Performance

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

Measurements

Body Type Sedan
Dimension
(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

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs

Engine

Engine Capacity 1998cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 148bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 190Nm @ 4000rpm
Power to Weight 148000 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 12.5s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 187 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 11.5 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 4 -speed 4-speed A/T
Drive Type FF

Measurements

Body Type Sedan
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4,825 x 1,825 x 1,470) mm
Wheelbase 2,775 mm
Turning Circle 5.5 metres
Kerb Weight 1,445 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 70 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs