Kia has earned itself quite a reputation for providing vehicles with more than most would expect.
Enter the Kia Optima K5, recently facelifted after its Malaysian debut in late 2011.
Subtle alterations to the front and rear fascias have been applied, but the loudest would be its new set of 18-inch alloy wheels which replaced the bulky-yet-solid looking 10-spoke fan blades on its predecessor.
The use of 225/45 sized tyres continues, and our test car came with a set of Korean Nexen SU1 tyres.
Other visual differences include the relocation of daytime-running-lights (DRLs) to just above the main headlight clusters (previously inhabiting the lower corners above the fog lamps).
Other changes at the front include the use of slats just below the tiger nose grille, and a cluster of four LEDs for its fog lights.
The rear, however, gets a diffuser and a new pair of LED combination lamps that are similar to the Cerato’s uninterrupted circular illumination.
The overall effect is a tidier and more sophisticated look.
No revision in the engine department; it maintains the use of the 2.0-litre CVVL (continuously variable valve lift) Nu engine, producing 163bhp at 6,500rpm and 198Nm of torque at 4,800rpm.
The power is managed by a six-speed automatic transmission, which provides smooth gear changes regardless of the rev-needle’s location.
Within the cabin, it’s a dark affair with leather-upholstered seats but ultimately, it’s a familiar sight when put next to its predecessor.
We like the front ventilated seats (that’s right – both driver and front passenger get them), and that certainly ups the ante on luxury amenities along with a reverse camera.
However, we think the 4.3-inch TFT colour-LCD display can be larger.
The door shuts with a solid thud.
With our foot on the brake pedal, pressing the Start button not only gets the engine going, but also plays a melodic start-up tune – shutting the engine off gets a goodbye-tune as well.
Apart from the start-up tune, we also liked the needles in the instrument cluster stirring up – commonly found on performance-oriented bikes.
At responsible speeds, the K5’s ride quality is impressive as we experienced a high comfort level and low NVH (noise, vibration and harshness).
When pushing speed limits, it excels at being a straight-line cruiser.
The suspension on the K5 strikes a good balance between sportiness and comfort.
The electric steering has a firm sporty weight to it during high-speed driving.
However, the brakes require a little travel before getting the stopping power we desired.
Driving the K5 in Eco mode helps to keep the rev-counter low.
But if there’s a sudden need for power, power is what it will provide.
In Normal driving mode, it provides a nice blend of power and economy, but once Sport mode is engaged, the steering gets tighter and gear changes are delayed to get the most out of the engine.
Although the K5’s front tracks well to sudden directional change, one has to be a bit wary about the rear end and thankfully, its VSM (vehicle stability management) is there to do the job.
This manages the interaction between electronic brake-force distribution, anti-lock brake system, brake assist, traction control and hill-start assist control.
With items such as an Infinity sound system, sunroof, HID xenon headlamps with auto levelling and static bending lights, LED daylight running lights, ventilated front leather seats, rain sensors, Bluetooth handsfree connectivity and keyless entry, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the K5’s value proposition.
The K5 is priced at RM149,888 on-the-road and comes with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty. Colour options are Snow White Pearl, Satin Metal, Aurora Black and Smokey Blue.