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Kia Optima Si 2012 Review

Wow. What a difference a set of tyres can make. We weren't too impressed with the ride quality in the top of the range Platinum model.

But if we owned one of the cars we'd quite happily swap our 18s for a set of the 17 inch wheels from the cheaper Si model. In fact, you could probably downsize the wheels for no extra cost if you can live without the bling.

ENGINE

Same 2.4-litre direct injection four with 148kW of power at 6300 revs and 250Nm of torque at 4250 revs. They're best in class specs, equalled only by the Accord Euro which boasts the same power but not as much torque. It's the same flexible six-speed auto with manual shift too.

FUEL ECONOMY

Takes regular unleaded and has a big 70-litre fuel tank. That gives you a range of more than 800km with a combined fuel consumption of 7.9 litres/100km. We clocked up 660km at 7.8 (not bad for a car this size). Others reportedly haven't fared as well.

SAFETY

The list of active and passive safety features includes ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), six SRS airbags and the new tailgate-mounted reversing safety camera fitted with a 130-degree, wide-angle lens which, transmits images to an LCD display set within the interior rear-view mirror.

THE WHEELS

The Si gets 17in alloys fitted with 215/55 tyres, compared with the Platinum's 18in 225/45s. The taller profile of the Si's tyres have a greater cushioning effect while having little or no effect on handling (not that you'd notice). The trade off is well worth it. Both models get a full size alloy spare.

WHAT YOU GET

A whole lot of car for your money. A good looking one too. Optima is large and comfortable with plenty of room for four/five adults with a big boot go with it.

WHAT YOU MISS OUT ON

The aforementioned 18in alloys, a rear spoiler, daytime LED running lights, push button start, leather upholstery, ventilated/heated driver's seat and the big panoramic sunroof  plus a few other odds and ends. 

Oh and the audio system has been downgraded, with a separate amp and subwoofer.

THE DRIVE

Has the point and shoot quality of a big family sedans like the Falcon or Commodore. You hop in, you start, you go  all nice and clean without any fuss. The controls are well laid out and easy to use.

The seats are comfy and pairing the phone takes a couple of minutes (unlike some brands). Also has full iPod connectivity.

VERDICT 

Get with the program. If Kia is not on your shopping list, then it should be. Times have changed and it is producing desirable, well built cars which in some cases like this one are better than their Japanese counterparts.

KIA OPTIMA Si

Price: from $30,490
Warranty: Five years unlimited kilometres
Engine: 2.4-litre four cylinder with twin-overhead camshafts and variable valve timing
Output: 148kW/6300 revs, 250Nm/4250revs
Dimensions: Length: 4845 mm, Width: 1830 mm, Height: 1455 mm, Wheelbase: 2795 mm.
Weight: 1551 kg.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Economy: 7.9 litres/100km
Green: CO2 emissions 189g/km
Tyres: 225/45 R18. 18-inch alloy. Full-size spare

Pricing guides

$13,928
Based on 41 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$7,990
Highest Price
$19,500

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Platinum 2.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,571 – 19,500 2012 Kia Optima 2012 Platinum Pricing and Specs
Si 2.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $7,990 – 14,490 2012 Kia Optima 2012 Si Pricing and Specs
SLi 2.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $8,200 – 12,650 2012 Kia Optima 2012 SLi Pricing and Specs