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VW Jetta 147 TSI vs Kia Optima Platinum

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Volkswagen Jetta 147 TSI and Kia Optima Platinum go head to head in this comparative review.

3 stars

VALUE from $37,990

4 stars

VALUE from $36,990

It's a little austere inside but still has a good array of features. Missing are some of the frills supplied standard in Asian competitors, such as electric seats. Instead, you get premium build quality.

The Kia Optima is packed with standard gear, including high-end audio, sunroof, dusk-sensing headlights with washer, heated and powered front passenger seats, cooling glove box and daytime running lights. It could do with rain-sensing wipers.


This is the rocket of the Volkswagen Jetta fleet with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with similar peak power to the Optima but with more torque. Turbo lag can be a little irritating but the six-speed direct shift gearbox is fast when up and running, if not off the mark. The Bluetooth is slow to pair.

It may be a big four-cylinder engine but even without a turbo the 2.4 still has plenty of power and torque. At the same time it returns fuel economy of 7.9L/100km to match the Jetta. The Bluetooth phone and audio streaming facility is the easiest to pair and use.

3 stars


4 starsDESIGN
More than just a Golf with a boot, the Jetta pulls off the sedan look without losing any athletic character.
But it lacks flair and looks a little tired compared with newcomers, the Optima among them. Interior room and cargo space is not as good as the slightly larger Passat.
This car is changing the way people think about Kia. The Peter Schreyer-designed Optima is an award winner. It is fresh, modern and practical with plenty of rear legroom and cargo space. Put four circles across the grille, aping an Audi, and you could fool many motorists.
4 starsSAFETY 4 starsSAFETY

Combine the Jetta's maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating with its superior driving dynamics and you have a very safe vehicle. It also features front and rear parking sensors to avoid car park bingles and rain-sensing wipers.

It earns the its five-star ANCAP rating with six airbags, reversing camera, parking sensors, static cornering lights and hill-start assist control to stop it rolling backwards when stopped on a hill. But visibility is restricted by thick windscreen pillars and a smallish rear window.

4 starsDRIVING 3.5 starsDRIVING

In common with the Golf, this is a benchmark in the field for handling. Drivers feel in control at all times with plenty of grip and road feedback. This is off set a little by a slightly noisy cabin and solid ride quality.

The naturally aspirated engine supplies snappy, not sizzling response. It is predictable and easy to drive.
The suspension set-up aims for comfort, without giving too much away in driver feel. The quiet cabin approaches Camry levels of shush.
 3.5 stars image
4 stars image


VW sets the bar for driving dynamics but lacks a little in features, comfort and style. Kia adds new levels of refinement and value to this class without losing much on the drive. 

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 10 comments

  • Footnote :
    June 2013   - 26,500 VWs (all different models) have just been recalled to check for serious auto gearbox failures dubious quality for such a high priced item.

    Ray of Sydney Posted on 12 June 2013 7:13pm
  • Spare me! Mark Hinchliffe needs to start testing walking frames not cars. The Optima is a good car and looks great but if you enjoy driving the only choices the Jetta. For the price there is no better combination of performance, efficiency, space, refinement, engineering excellence and retained value on the market.

    Chaps Posted on 17 August 2012 11:44pm
  • Jeff, I read that article too in the Wheels magazine and honestly, I was pretty surprised with how the Optima was given very low marks. Maybe the model they tested was one of those that were meant to be shipped to south east Asia - that is, the models without the tailored suspension set-up for Aussie roads, which Kia dealers also sell in their showrooms. Maybe they wanted to prevent Holden and Ford from being taken over in sales from the onslaught of Korean manufacturers, who are making a killing over in the US - who knows? But when I took the Optima for a joy ride I couldn’t believe how fun thing was to drive, This car corners really well, not to mention how comfortable and quiet the cabin was.

    Randy of Sydney Posted on 28 April 2012 5:55pm
  • Steve, it was a typo should have read 2.4 l not 2l . A fairly minor error when you read some of the garbage that passes for “enlightened” comments on some of these blogs.

    Ray Marsh of Sydney Posted on 17 April 2012 4:49pm
  • I think the optima leaves the jetta and a lot of other cars for dead.
    Move over Toyota and others, the koreans are coming.
    It looks good, goes fantastic and is loaded with tons of options that are extras in lesser vehicles.
    Nice one KIA.

    bob williamson of central coast Posted on 04 April 2012 8:41pm
  • Kia optima: Under the bonnet is a 2.4-litre direct-injection engine with 148kW of power and 250Nm of torque.
    when you bought your car you should know what is under the bonnet.

    Steve Svircev Posted on 30 March 2012 5:41pm
  • I have just bought a new Kia Optima Platinum - traded in a 300kw+  late model HSV Senator . I thought the australianised suspension setup felt just right-has a great turning circle.The car is spectacular-looking,drives very well with a very good power output (148kw) for a 2l engine.Comes with an 8 year warranty 5 + 3 (dealer supplied) at no extra cost.Proximity key, leather , Mercedes type stereo system , heated & cooled driver’s seat & reversing camera standard.

    Ray Marsh of Sydney Posted on 22 March 2012 10:17pm
  • Mark Hinchliffe, Looks like you have not driven any of the 147 Jettas. What sort of lag you are talking about? I’m driving Jetta 147 already 3 years and can take any challenge with any of 2 lit. cars! Not with “R” ones. Sadly doesn’t have start control as GTI. Is electrics seat bigger advantage then 2.0 litres engine with the same kW over 2.4 litres engine? Man you have to feel the difference, sadly you wrote that article. You should not be talking about cars! Golf has the same shape over the decades, then compare the golf to some Korean sheet metal balloon?

    Steve Svircev Posted on 16 March 2012 4:36pm
  • Interesting result. Optima came dead last out of 10 cars in the Wheels mid-sized cars megatest. Shocking steering and handling apparently.

    They do look good though. No question.

    Jeff Barry Posted on 10 March 2012 11:15am
  • Love that optima.

    Fred Gerk Posted on 06 March 2012 8:50pm
Read all 10 comments

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