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Kia Optima 2012 review


With the Optima Si, Kia is targeting those who want a European style car without the hefty price tag.

And it seems to have the style to impress, with one observer christening our test car “a bad boy”. Okay, that might be stretching things a bit too far, but even the base model Optima Si is light years away from the Kia we used to know.


Priced from $30,490 the entry level Si is a significant $6500 less than the $36,990 Platinum model. The price point is also slightly cheaper than the competitors: Hyundai i45 Active from $31,090 and Honda Accord Euro from $32,640.

The Si is under a generous five year warranty with a features list that includes Bluetooth connectivity, MP3 compatible CD player, steering wheel mounted audio controls, dual-zone climate control, auto door lock/unlock, auto headlamps and front fog lamps.

However at this level you get 17-in alloys and smaller discs rather than the 18s and larger ones on the Platinum spec. The only extra available on the base model is metallic paint priced at $450.


The Kia Optima gets a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine paired with outputs of 148kW of power at 6300 revs and 250Nm of torque at 4250 revs delivered to the front wheels via a six-speed sports automatic.

The Optima’s official fuel consumption is 7.9 L/100km with 189 CO2 emissions. The specs are competitive against rivals like Honda Accord Euro – which comes close but with less torque at 230Nm.


The spacious interior combines sport styling with comfort, meaning there’s plenty of room for four or five adults. The cabin plastics and dashboard are attractive and well-designed and the Si also comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The boot is large enough for everyday life with a capacity of 505 litres, and that can be increased by dropping the rear seats.

It was a bit disappointing to find the seats are leather-trimmed with ‘pleather bolsters’, rather than the real thing. The base model also doesn’t offer ventilated driver’s seat or a panoramic sunroof. However, these are more compromises in order to keep the 2.4 litre engine rather than move to a smaller one at this price.

The chrome radiator grille, chrome strips over the back bonnet and doors make the exterior aesthetically striking. But sports car lovers should be aware that the base model Si doesn’t come with a sports bumper, LED lights or HID headlights. Even with all these dropped features, the Optima Si is a handsome thing.


The Si has a 5-Star ANCAP crash rating, and has six airbags, anti-skid brakes with electronic helpers, stability control, hill-start assist, speed sensing auto door lock, child proof rear door locks and impact sensing auto door unlocking.

Visibility is good, and the reverse parking sensors and the rear view camera, wide-angle mirror display and parking guidelines make city parking a hell of a lot easier than in some rivals.


Kia has made an effort to make the Optima Si as inviting as possible. Cabin space is impressive with plenty of legroom, comfy seats, smooth pedal feel and adjustable steering. Tall drivers and passengers will appreciate the generous head and legroom in the front and the rear, as well as the rear door apertures.

The dashboard is tilted logically towards the driver and the cruise control and audio buttons on the steering wheel are conveniently placed. The Si comes with speed dependent volume control, however it wasn’t a noticeable feature. 

The Si was a surprisingly quiet ride with hardly any wind or road noise. The six-speed auto served well through heavy stop start traffic in the city. But the Si felt a bit gutless when facing a climb, with the automatic transmission struggling to find the right gear.

Once you’re on the open road you’ll want to shift into Sport mode to really get the most out of the car. While the Si is far from a sporty, steering was responsive and well-weighted, with more grip than expected from a front wheel drive. The Si turned corners with ease and the acceleration was more than sufficient for a vehicle of this size. Overall, the Si was extremely easy to drive but may lean to the dull side for some drivers.


If you’re looking for a mid-sized sedan the base model Optima Si is one to consider - a well built car that is great for the city.

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Range and Specs

Platinum 2.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $10,990 – 17,990 2012 Kia Optima 2012 Platinum Pricing and Specs
Si 2.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $8,750 – 12,995 2012 Kia Optima 2012 Si Pricing and Specs
SLi 2.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $12,998 – 15,990 2012 Kia Optima 2012 SLi Pricing and Specs
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