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In-depth reviews

Kia Optima Sportswagon estate (2016-2020)

"The Kia Optima SW estate joins the four-door Optima saloon in the Kia range, giving buyers a more practical and spacious option"

Carbuyer Rating

3.3 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Pros

  • Low running costs and great Kia warranty
  • Smooth and comfortable ride
  • Smart styling inside and out

Cons

  • Not much fun to drive
  • GT model looks expensive
  • Some rivals more practical and efficient

The Kia Optima Sportswagon (SW) estate joins the Kia Cee’d SW in offering a more practical choice to customers of the brand who don’t want a big SUV like the Kia Sportage or Kia Sorento. As a large family estate car, the Optima Sportswagon is a rival for the Ford Mondeo Estate, Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, Volkswagen Passat Estate, Peugeot 508 SW, Toyota Avensis Tourer, Skoda Superb Estate and Mazda6 Tourer. But its closest rival of all is probably the Hyundai i40 Tourer – which is practically the same car under the metal.

The Optima SW is a good-looking car – better-looking than the saloon, in our opinion – with sleek, handsome lines and eye-catching shapes all around the exterior. Seeing as Kia is hoping the top-spec models will steal buyers from German compact executive cars, it’s appropriate that it cuts more of a dash than the somewhat drab Mondeo, Insignia, Superb and Passat, although we still think the Mazda6 Tourer is the style champion in this company.

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Stylish looks outside don’t mean poor practicality inside, however: appropriately for a big estate, the Optima SW has a hefty 552-litre boot, expanding to 1,686 litres if you drop the rear seats down. That’s not bad, but the Superb Estate is still king when it comes to sheer carrying capacity.

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Up front, there’s a comfortable driving position, but this isn’t quite a car to put a smile on your face in the manner of a BMW. The steering is quicker than the saloon’s, but the Optima leans a bit more in corners than you may like. The upside is that it rides quite smoothly and comfortably, so it’s a particularly good motorway cruiser.

Aside from the PHEV hybrid model, which we've reviewed separately, there’s only one engine option: Kia’s familiar 1.7-litre CRDi diesel, with 139bhp. As in other Kias, it’s a bit noisy when you start it up first and accelerate away, but it quietens down nicely at speed and has plenty of punch for overtaking.

You do get a choice of gearboxes with the diesel engine: either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. We prefer the former, as the automatic increases running costs a bit. In manual form, the Optima SW goes from 0-60mph in just under 10 seconds, while claimed fuel economy is 64.2mpg and CO2 emissions are 113g/km.

Standard equipment is generous – another familiar Kia trait – and while the Optima SW itself hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP yet, the saloon model was awarded the maximum five-star rating when it was evaluated in 2015.

Overall, the Optima SW is a commendable package, but not a perfect one; the most expensive (albeit very well-equipped) GT Line S model is in danger of pricing itself out of the market, when you consider that a BMW 3 Series estate is a comparable price and a far better investment. The more down-to-earth models in the range, though, demand serious consideration if you’re in the market for a large and comfortable family car and would rather not go down the crossover or SUV route.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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