Kia Optima Plug-in hybrid revealed
Kia has revealed that a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant of its Mondeo-rivalling Optima saloon will be in showrooms soon. Featuring a conventional 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 50kW electric motor, it will be able to travel up to 33 miles on electric power only and has a startlingly low C02 output of just 37g/km.
Unlike the company’s recently revealed Niro crossover – a conventional hybrid – the Optima gets plug-in technology similar to that seen in the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The 2.0-litre petrol engine produces 154bhp, while the electric motor provides a further 67bhp thanks to a 9.8kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack.
In hybrid mode, it manages a 0-62mph run of 9.1 seconds, while official economy stats state that it’s capable of an astounding 176.6mpg. Figures that high probably won’t be attainable in the real world, but Kia claim it has a 33-mile range on electric power alone, at speeds of up to 75mph too.
It comes with a six-speed transmission that connected directly to the electric motor, while its batteries are located where you’d usually find the spare wheel. This has negated boot capacity somewhat, with luggage space reduced from 510 litres to just 307.
Other advanced fuel saving tech has been harnessed, including a regenerative braking system that uses kinetic (moving) energy to recharge the batteries when the car is coasting and braking. Another clever addition comes from a ‘HVAC’ system, that heats the driver’s side of the cabin, but saves energy by excluding unoccupied seats.
Kia is keen to point out that its plug-in technology is not the be all and end all, and says the Optima PHEV is ‘a unique, extensively equipped stand-alone model in the Optima range’.
It’s certainly the Optima with the most comprehensive kit list, featuring an 8in touchscreen infotainment system, satnav, a wireless phone charging point, a 10-speaker sound system, parking sensors, a reversing camera, dual-zone air con, cruise control and a leather-trimmed steering wheel.
The infotainment system is fully compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (available later in the production run), while the exterior also sees updates. There’s PHEV-specific front and rear bumpers (to make it as aerodynamic as possible), an active air-flap front grille, chrome trim and 17in alloy wheels.
The Optima PHEV has been unveiled just weeks after Kia revealed the upcoming Niro crossover – a conventionally powered hybrid aimed at biting into the Toyota Prius’ market share. The Optima hybrid on the other hand, is designed to take on the latest generation of plug-in hybrid saloons such as the Ford Mondeo hybrid and the Volkswagen Passat GTE.
After the government’s plug-in grant has been taken into account, it will have a list price of £31,495. We’ll have to wait and see how much lease prices will be, but thanks to its low-emission credentials, it does get a BiK (Benefit in Kind) rate of just 7%, so that should keep fleet managers happy.