You know it as the Kia Optima, but the next generation is going to be called the K5. In many other parts of the world, Kia’s product portfolio uses an alphanumeric badging system — the Forte is the K3, the Cadenza is the K7. The K5, which will be offered in LX, EX and GT-Line trims, arrives with a stunning style and the wherewithal needed to back up its salacious new looks.
The exterior style adopts a Stinger-like profile, minus the liftback. This means a fastback four-door sedan with a coupe-like profile. Up front, the latest expression of Kia’s “tiger nose” grille is flanked by slim headlights that are underscored by LED daytime running lights. The large under-bumper air opening then suggests the K5 means business. Around the back, the use of a full-width taillight design adds yet more pizzazz. It is, as four-door sedans go, a good-looking piece with a striking presence.
Kia’s third-generation “N3” platform underpins the new K5. It’s now larger and more accommodating; overall length is up 50 millimetres, width is up 25, and the wheelbase is now longer — at 2,850 millimetres, it will now have more rear-seat legroom — and the outgoing Optima was already generous in that regard.
Peek inside and the cabin has been reworked to great effect. Replacing the infotainment screen that was built into the dash on the outgoing model is one of two free-standing screens. On most models it will be an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. New is the fact these two apps can be connected wirelessly while the phone is being charged on a Qi pad. The optional display is a 10.25-inch unit. It features server-based navigation with real-time traffic data, a more intuitive user interface, and new multi-connection Bluetooth wireless connectivity. The K5’s interior can be further customized with a selection of black leather seating, chrome metallic and wood-like finishes, a flat-bottom sport steering wheel, and an available panoramic sunroof, along with a 12-speaker Bose audio system
Standard safety equipment includes Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with automatic braking, a drowsy driver monitor and lane follow assist. New is the availability of Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA) and Junction Turning (FCA-JT). It helps the driver avoid a collision when making a left turn through braking intervention, if an oncoming vehicle is approaching and the driver does nothing to avoid it. Blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross-traffic alert was standard on the outgoing Optima, so one hopes this continues with the new K5.
Under the hood, the new base engine is a 1.6-litre turbo-four that produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm. New is the Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) system, where independent control of the valve open time provides a boost in performance and better efficiency. This engine drives the front wheels through an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. The combination promises to deliver much better performance than the previous entry-level 2.4L four-cylinder and six-speed automatic.
The boss engine is going to be the 2.5L turbo-four. It fires 290 horsepower and 311 lb.-ft. of torque through a new eight-speed dual wet-clutch transmission. The advantage to the wet part is as the clutch pack runs in an oil bath, it doesn’t burn and become smelly when forced to slip as the dry-clutch units tend to do. This combination will a be a late arrival for Canada. The good news is when it does arrive, this K5 variant will boast a quick zero-to-100 km/h time of 6.6 seconds, according to Kia. As with the outgoing Optima, expect a hybrid powertrain option down the road.
The K5’s adjustable drive modes features Smart, Comfort, Eco, Sport, and Custom settings. The 2.5L turbo-four gets a Sport+ mode as well. Depending on the mode selected, the system sharpens the throttle, and changes the transmission’s shift points and the steering feel.
In other markets, the K5 will be offered with all-wheel-drive. It will be available in the U.S., but according to Kia Canada, “the plans for Canada are still being finalized” and “we’ll have more spec details this fall.” Reading between the lines suggests AWD likely isn’t coming; of all of the improvements, the addition of AWD for the first time in Canada would be one of the more newsworthy items. So, fingers crossed the right decision will be made, because when winter hits AWD is a boon.
The 2021 Kia K5 arrives in the fall of this year. Pricing and detailed specifications will be released closer to the launch date.
Copyright PostMedia Network, 2020