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After a lengthy pre-launch campaign, the fourth-generation 2016 Kia Optima has finally made its debut at the ongoing 2015 New York International Auto Show (2015 NYIAS). The new D-segment contender will be made available in five different trim levels (LX, LX Turbo, EX, SX Turbo, SXL) when it goes on sale later this year.

Aimed at “consumers looking for a fresh alternative to an otherwise staid segment”, the new Optima adopts an evolutionary design theme, conceived under the guidance of president and style guru, Peter Schreyer. The front end now sports a revised ‘Tiger Nose’ grille that’s flanked by HID head lamps with Dynamic Bending Lights and High Beam Assist. The LED daytime running lights are housed inside the main assembly.

Profile wise, the new Optima sports a raked A-pillar that lends it a swooping, sporty silhouette while alloy wheels, ranging in size from 16- to 18-inch depending on trim level selected, are present. Depending on what lies under the bonnet, a minute side vent above the front wheel arch bears the ‘Turbo’ tag within its frame.

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At the rear, a subtle lip spoiler sits atop while (optional) elongated LED ‘halo-style’ tail lamps reside below. Additional aesthetic character comes courtesy from the twin oval exhaust outlets at each end which are embedded into the diffuser. Three new paint schemes are added into the Optima’s palette.

Under the bonnet lie three engine options, all petrol-powered. The latest engine also happens to be the smallest one – a 1.6 litre, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 178 hp and 264 Nm of torque is mated to a just-as-new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. This treatment is only available on the Optima LX Turbo.

Elsewhere, a turbo’ed 2.0 litre GDI four-banger with 247 hp/352 Nm and a 2.4 litre, four-cylinder mill with 185 hp/241 Nm are featured. The former can be specced on the Optima SXL and SX turbo variants while the latter, the Optima LX and EX. Both engines are mated to a six-speed auto (SX and SXL add on paddle shifters) while all three powerplant/transmission setups send power to the front wheels.

Inside, much of the focus has been diverted to decreasing the NVH levels while at the same time increasing the interior ambience up a notch or two with more premium materials employed in the construction. Depending again on trim levels selected, the seats can either be trimmed in fabric, standard quality leather or the full-on Nappa treatment while either a “rich merlot” or “dark aubergine” interior finish can be specced.

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An eight-inch touchscreen is home to Kia’s UVO connectivity system which features four eServices functions – Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score. Also making its debut on the 2016 Kia Optima is the Android Auto and Apple Carplay platforms – the latter to be available in the future. Two ‘fast-charge’ USB ports are present with one in front and the other out back in the rear seat.

A six-speaker audio system comes as standard while audiophiles can opt for a 14-speaker Infinity Premium Audio System that features Clari-Fi technology. Additional conveniences include a reverse camera, standard on all variants, while the SX and SXL variants can be had with the optional 360-degree Around View Monitor.

Along with the inclusion of high-strength steel in its construction, the 2016 Kia Optima comes with a plethora of safety features. Optional driver aids include Advanced Smart Cruise Control system, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Autonomous Emergency Braking.