Kia has updated the Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid for 2019, with a completely redesigned lower front bumper, with the addition of LED daytime running lights that give a more dynamic appearance. The 17-inch alloy wheels have been revised, with a new diamond-cut design.
The range of grades has been expanded to two, with a new ‘PHEV Plus’ grade joining the line-up. Additional equipment includes leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, Smart High Beam Assist, Hydrophobic front glass, a smart powered tailgate, ventilated front seats, Smart Park Assist System (SPAS), a wireless mobile phone charger, 360-degree Around View Monitor, Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear-cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).
The new Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid range joins the all-electric Soul EV, Niro self-charging Hybrid and Niro plug-in hybrid in Kia’s alternative-powertrain line-up. This will be expanded further in 2019 with the launch of the e-Niro and all-new Soul EV, and helps to drive Kia towards its goal of a 25 per cent reduction in fleet average CO2 emissions by 2020, based on 2014 figures.
With a range of up to 33 miles in all-electric mode, the Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid is able to complete many regular urban commuter runs with no tailpipe emissions, while its CO2 figure of just 33g/km (NEDC 2.0) means company car users pay just 13 per cent benefit-in-kind taxation in 2018-19.
The Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid combines a 152bhp 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol engine with a 50kW (66bhp) electric motor powered by an 11.26kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. The electric motor replaces the torque converter in the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. When working together, the combustion engine and electric motor generate 202bhp and 375Nm of torque.
A package of aerodynamic, styling and technology features contributes towards the Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid’s low CO2 emissions and potential combined fuel economy of up to 188.3mpg on the new WLTP cycle. These changes ensure the plug-in hybrid is instantly recognisable as the high-efficiency model in the Optima Sportswagon range while minimising any impact on its practicality.
The most significant aerodynamic change is an active air flap grille which lowers the car’s drag co-efficient (Cd) to 0.28 when closed. The neat integration of the batteries in the boot floor, along with a 15-litre reduction in the size of the fuel tank compared with the diesel-engined Optima Sportswagon, means the plug-in hybrid is able to offer a generous 440 litres of luggage capacity with all seats upright, rising to 1,574 litres when the rear seats are lowered.
Naturally, such a technologically advanced addition to the Optima family is available with a comprehensive range of connectivity and advanced driver assistance features, including an 8.0-inch touchscreen navigation system with European mapping. Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay™, Kia Connected Services powered by TomTom® and an eight-speaker harman/kardon premium sound system linked to a digital radio are also standard.
Hybrid sales in the UK and mainland Europe have doubled over the past five years and are expected to reach 700,000 a year by the end of the decade. The Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid ensures Kia is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this growth. It is offered in the UK as a comprehensively equipped two-grade line-up.
A new phase in Kia’s hybrid development
Hybrids are not new to Kia or indeed the Optima range. The Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid and its extensive all-electric driving range, low CO2 emissions and ultra-low company car tax rating, make it an important addition to Kia’s fleet line-up in the UK.
The core feature of the hybrid system is the next-generation 11.26kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. The simplicity of the hybrid system allows compact packaging of the petrol engine, electric motor and automatic transmission on the front axle, with minimal energy transfer and conversion losses.
This results in excellent performance and range for a D-segment estate car: up to 33 miles of pure-electric driving at speeds as high as 75mph, a hybrid range of up to 696 miles and 0-60mph acceleration in 9.4 seconds. The switch between electric and hybrid driving is seamless, while the electric motor’s 205Nm of torque from standstill ensures rapid acceleration and instantaneous response to the throttle pedal.
Intelligent fuel-saving and energy-harvesting technologies
The Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid is equipped with a number of technological innovations to help it use the power in its battery pack in the most efficient way and top up its batteries on the move.
The car’s sophisticated technologies include regenerative braking, a driving style guide, an ECO-DAS (ECOnomy Driver Assistance System) and an HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Select switch. It also has an intelligent heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to save battery power.
HEV Select gives access to two driving modes via a button in the centre console. In EV (charge depletion) mode the car runs as a purely electric vehicle when the energy stored in the batteries is adequate, and is able to regenerate electrical power on the move to recharge the batteries. The Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid has an all-electric driving range of up to 33 miles. HEV (sustaining) mode allows the powertrain to balance the use of motor and petrol engine for a seamless combination of electric and internal combustion power. In this mode, a greater proportion of propulsion comes from the petrol engine and the charge level of the batteries is constantly being topped up for later use.
Kia’s regenerative braking system, now in third generation guise, allows the car to harvest kinetic energy – energy created by motion – to top up the batteries when coasting or braking.
The advanced HVAC system has been adapted from that in the Soul EV, and permits only the driver’s side of the car to be cooled when the other seats are unoccupied to minimise energy usage. It does this through a smart air intake, in contrast to rival systems which merely divert the airflow towards the driver when other vents are closed and consequently do not reduce overall energy consumption.
A distinctive look and bespoke interior
A package of aerodynamic and styling changes distinguishes the Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid from its diesel-engined counterparts, and these have been further enhanced for 2019. The lower front bumper has been completely redesigned, adding LED daytime running lights, which deliver a more dynamic appearance. The 17-inch alloy wheels have also been revised and now have an eye-catching new diamond-cut design. The changes make the plug-in hybrid efficient at cutting through the air, thus saving precious energy, while ensuring that it is instantly recognisable as the most efficient car in the range.
Chief among the aerodynamic improvements is an active air flap grille which automatically closes when engine cooling requirements are at their lowest, so that air passes more efficiently over and around the car. When activated, it lowers the drag coefficient (Cd) of the plug-in hybrid to 0.28. Every small improvement in drag can have a significant effect on fuel consumption, especially at higher speeds. There are also uniquely profiled front and rear bumpers for the plug-in hybrid to reduce air turbulence.
Distinguishing features of the plug-in hybrid are chrome enhancements with a metallic blue finish on the lower front air grille, the ‘tiger-nose’ main grille and the side sills. There are ‘ECO plug-in’ badges on the front wings, while the recharging port for the batteries is housed in the left front wing.
Inside the plug-in hybrid, the standard 8.0-inch touchscreen features additional menus to help the driver achieve the maximum all-electric driving range. It provides valuable information on the status of the batteries, the location of nearby charging stations, energy use based on driving style and the mileage which can be expected from the energy remaining in the batteries.
Retuned suspension and larger brakes
To compensate for the additional weight imposed by the battery pack, the all-independent suspension of the Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid has been specially tuned, while the brakes have been enlarged compared with those on the diesel-engined version.
The subframe-mounted suspension – featuring MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear, with coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers all round – remains unchanged, but the springs, dampers and alignment have been retuned. The result is agile handling with a cosseting ride. For packaging reasons the Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid features Kia’s column-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (C-MDPS) rather than the rack-mounted (R-MDPS) system fitted to diesel versions.
To ensure braking performance is at least on par with that of the diesel Sportswagon, the rear brake discs of the plug-in hybrid have been enlarged from 262mm to 300mm.
Fully connected with Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™
The navigation system includes full European mapping, while Kia Connected Services with TomTom®, when linked to a smartphone, provides live traffic updates refreshed once a minute, with suggested alternative routes to avoid congestion. It also displays weather forecasts; local searches under 500 categories, including Kia dealerships, petrol stations, restaurants and supermarkets; and alerts for such things as speed cameras and accident blackspots.
Additionally, the car is available with Android Auto™ for use with Android phones running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher, and Apple CarPlay™, which operates with iPhone 5 or newer.
Android Auto™ connects the car to the user’s smartphone and, via pre-downloaded apps, gives access to Google Maps navigation, Google Play music, hands-free calls and texts and voice recognition. Apple CarPlay™ enables full Siri voice control of the phone’s apps and functions while linking the car to Apple Maps, calls and text dictation, music streaming and audiobooks.
The car’s audio-visual navigation (AVN) system is operated via an 8.0-inch touchscreen which also controls the satellite navigation system and Kia Connected Services. Exclusive in the plug-in hybrid is a series of menus which show the car’s EV range at any time, nearby charging stations and energy usage based on driving style, as well as other information to help the driver use the electrical energy stored in the batteries in the most efficient way.
The Optima Sportswagon ‘PHEV’ and ‘PHEV Plus’ has a harman/kardon® premium sound system with eight speakers, including a front centre speaker, sub-woofer and an external amplifier. There is also a DAB radio, front USB ports, an auxiliary socket in the centre console and a USB port in rear floor console. The system supports Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and music streaming and is compatible with MP3 players.
For added convenience, a wireless mobile phone charger – housed in the front of the centre console tray – is fitted as standard to the ‘PHEV Plus’ grade. It uses inductive charging to recharge the batteries of compatible electronic devices. Occupants are therefore able to charge mobile phones or MP3 players without the inconvenience of wires and connectors, which frequently change when new devices are introduced. The wireless charger features foreign object detection, switches on automatically when a phone is placed upon it and displays the phone’s charge status in the instrument cluster. An in-built safety system prevents overheating, while drivers and passengers are warned if they are about to leave the car with the phone still on the charging pad.
High-strength body and active safety technologies
The plug-in hybrid is built around the same, highly protective crash structure as diesel versions of the Optima saloon and Sportswagon, which earned a five-star rating in Euro NCAP impact tests. It provides exemplary passive and active safety thanks to its occupant restraint systems and advanced active driver assistance features.
More than half of the body (51 per cent) is made of advanced high-strength steels, particularly to reinforce the A- and B-pillars, side sills, floor and front wheel arches. Seven airbags are fitted as standard.
Electronic Stability Control and Vehicle Stability Management are standard. These automatically counter any loss of traction when cornering or setting off on surfaces with differing levels of grip from left to right. Hill-start Assist Control, which holds the car when setting off on inclines, is also standard.
The Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid in the UK
The Sportswagon plug-in hybrid comes extensively kitted out and is available in a choice of ‘PHEV’ or ‘PHEV Plus’ derivatives. Its comprehensive specification includes 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels with 215/55 R17 tyres, LED daytime running lights and headlights – the latter with automatic levelling, welcome and follow-me-home lighting, an 8.0-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system with European mapping, an eight-speaker harman/kardon® Premium Sound system with subwoofer, external amplifier and front centre speaker, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera integrated into the navigation screen with dynamic guidelines, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshift, steering wheel mounted controls, all-round electric windows, smart cruise control with a speed limiter, remote central locking, an electronic parking brake and a 4.3-inch full-colour TFT (Thin Film Transistor) instrument display. On the ‘PHEV’ variant black cloth and faux leather seats are available, while black leather seats are fitted in the ‘PHEV Plus’ variant. On both grades, seats come with eight-way power adjustment and four-way power lumbar adjustment on the driver’s side.
The comprehensive suite of connectivity features includes Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™. At the heart of it is the latest 8.0-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system with European mapping and traffic messaging channel. In addition, there is Kia Connected Services featuring TomTom® that incorporates live traffic reports, speed camera locations, local search and weather updates. The system also includes Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone connectivity and USB sockets in the front. For added convenience, there is a USB port in rear floor console. A reversing camera with dynamic guidelines is integrated into the touchscreen. The system is linked to DAB radio as part of the eight-speaker harman/kardon® premium sound system with subwoofer, external amplifier and front centre speaker.
‘PHEV Plus’ versions also feature a Smart Park Assist System (SPAS), a panoramic sunroof, hydrophobic front glass, a smart power tailgate and smart high beam assist for the headlights. Leather upholstery is included as standard, in addition to ventilated front seats and two-way lumbar support for the front passenger seat. A wireless mobile phone charger, 360-degree Around View Monitor, Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), a luggage net and safety barrier net are also included as part of the elevated specification.
Uniquely in the Sportswagon range, it has bespoke low-drag front and rear bumpers, an active air-flap grille, blue chrome trim on the lower front air intake, upper grille and side sills and an exclusive navigation screen with a series of menus which help the driver to achieve the highest possible range in EV mode.
Market, warranty and after-care
In keeping with every Kia, the Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid comes with the company’s unique-in-the-UK seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, subject to certain wear and tear conditions. The warranty is fully transferable should the car be sold before the time or mileage limits have been reached.
The Optima Sportswagon plug-in hybrid is available with ‘Kia Care’ service plans, which have been developed to provide customers with a wide range of service plan options for any Kia model within the first seven years of the vehicle’s life – matching its industry-leading seven-year warranty.
The service plans include a comprehensive range of options including the original, traditional, first three and five services and those in between, but in addition a customer can now purchase services up to and including the seventh service which matches the full length of the warranty. The plans are available for all Kia owners and can be purchased at any point of ownership for cars up to five years old.
UK Optima Sportswagon Pricing Variant OTR from
‘PHEV’ 2.0 GDi – £34,995
‘PHEV Plus’ 2.0 GDi – £38,995