Just like how the Hyundai Sonata morphed from dull NF to four-door coupe style YF, this stylish new Kia Optima bears zero resemblance to its anonymously styled three-box predecessor. Completing the Peter Schreyer design-led range transformation after the Forte, Sorento and Sportage, the new Optima (Magentis in some markets) had input from Kia’s European and US studios and reinforces a “signature look” for the brand, just like how you know a BMW when you see one.

The new Optima is longer and wider, but lower than the vehicle it replaces, and the 2795 mm wheelbase (identical to the Sonata’s) is only 5 mm short of the Honda Accord’s 2800 mm. The Mondeo still remains the class leader with a 2,850mm wheelbase. The Optima is powered by the Theta II engine family; US buyers can choose between a 2.4-litre GDI, a 2.0-litre GDI turbo or a 2.4-litre hybrid.

The hybrid, which should share much of its tech with the just launched Sonata Hybrid, will be available next year. The GDI twin-scroll turbocharged engine sounds delicious though; 274 bhp and 365 Nm of torque from 1,800 rpm to 4,500 rpm. Kia doesn’t quote performance or consumption figures, but the same engine in the just launched Sonata 2.0T does 7.8 km/l in the city and 12 km/l on the highway. Transmission is a six-speed auto with Sportmatic manual mode.

The interior looks pretty much identical to the sketch we previously showed you. The instruments are sandwiched by air con vents on each side and it’s linked to a centre stack angled towards the driver, creating a cockpit that wraps around the pilot. Also contributing to this cozy, sporty feel is a high centre tunnel and short shifter. Look closely and you can see a leather strip outlining the “driver’s area” of the dashboard. Those who love having a lot of buttons will like the Optima’s steering wheel, which has controls on every spoke, besides shift paddles for the auto ‘box. Very nice.

The engine mix for Europe will be different for the new Optima. Lovers of oil burners will be able to buy an Optima with a 1.7 litre VGT turbodiesel engine, and there will also be a 2.0 CVVL engine, which is something I’ve never heard from Kia before. Looks like their 2.0 litre has been upgraded even further to have variable valve lift, as I’m guessing the L in CVVL means Lift.

Have a closer look at the gallery after the jump.

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