We are looking forward to driving the 272kW, 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 rear-wheel-drive Kia Stinger when it arrives here at the end of the year.
The Optima GT is a very different animal to what the Stinger promises to be, but we were more than happy to reacquaint ourselves over a month of testing with what, arguably, is one of the benchmark medium-size cars.
A few extras – LED headlights, upgraded sports seats and an electronic sound generator (it artificially enhances the engine note and pipes the sound to the cabin) – were added for model year 2017 to Optima GT late last year.
The price also rose $500.
It’s not the cheapest car in its class, but it certainly delivers an impressively-long list of standard equipment, driver assistance technologies and safety features at an affordable price.
There’s also the practicality of a full-size alloy spare stashed under the floor board of the capacious boot.
Our test car’s sharp looks drew compliments from several people, and inside is equally handsome with a well laid-out, user-friendly cabin.
It’s a pleasant place to be, with the comfortable leather-trimmed front seats offering good shaping and powered adjustability, plus heating and cooling.
The latter was a real boon through the long swelter we endured over summer. A handy feature is the inductive (wireless) charging pad for compatible smartphones.
There’s a high standard of finish throughout, though the interior, pleasing as it is, doesn’t quite muster the premium look of a Mazda6, with some areas of hard-looking plastic trim visible.
Kia back the car with an industry-leading, seven year/unlimited km warranty.
The 2.0-litre, turbo-charged direct-injection petrol engine not only sounds the part, courtesy of the new sound generator unit, but delivers satisfyingly solid urge through the rev range.
It can be a bit thirsty though, especially around town or if you keep the right boot into it.
Kia’s own six-speed auto gets the power to the front wheels. Shifts are quick, smooth and well-timed.
The Michelin Pilot Sport tyres provide good grip levels giving it a secure and planted feel, while the steering is well-weighted and faithful to driver inputs.
Through the twists and turns it feels dynamically adept. Kia has achieved a nice compromise between a firm, but still comfortable, ride and sportier handling.
The Optima GT was easy to live with and I was a touch sad handing the key back.