First Drive: 2011 Kia Optima reviews kia first drives auto articles
2011 Kia Optima SX. Click image to enlarge

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Kia Optima on Autos.ca

Manufacturer’s web site
Kia Canada

Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

Photo Gallery:
2011 Kia Optima

Miami, Florida – At a time when some other vehicle manufacturers are struggling, Kia is getting it right.

Under the design guidance of Peter Schreyer (formally of Audi), Kia has revised nearly every model in its line-up. The oldest model is now the Rondo, introduced just four years ago. All are attractive vehicles and consumers have taken notice, driving Kia sales in Canada upward.

The most recent revision is the Kia Optima (formerly the Magentis, but known in nearly every other market as the Optima) and the timing for its introduction to the Canadian media couldn’t have been better – the last day of the month, the day that monthly sales figures are released.

Sales for Kia in March topped 5,000 vehicles – 5,394 to be exact – up 21.6 per cent over 2010. Year to date sales are 25 per cent better than last year at this time. Among all manufacturers, only Porsche has seen a higher percentage increase in the first three months of the year compared to last year.

Without a doubt, the new Optima will steal sales from both Japanese and North American rivals – and sister Hyundai as well – and help keep Kia sales pointing upward.

First Drive: 2011 Kia Optima reviews kia first drives auto articles
2011 Kia Optima SX. Click image to enlarge

Although it shares many components with its Hyundai sibling, the Sonata, the Kia Optima is definitely different. Whereas the Hyundai is stylishly distinctive and elegantly swoopy, the Kia has the solid presence and understated strength of a European sports sedan. Look around and you will notice borrowed bits from a variety of European imports. Those fender gills could have been lifted from the BMW M3, for example. But the overall package is distinctly Kia’s own.

And it is a winner. The Kia Optima won a coveted red dot award for 2011 in the annual design competition held in Germany (the Kia Sportage was also awarded a 2011 red dot award, while the Kia Soul was honoured with a red dot award in 2009). The Optima also claimed the 2011 red dot ‘best of the best’ title, the competition’s highest distinction, for which only the best products in each category are eligible.

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