Kia Optima GT

Indicative drive away price: $47,988

For several years, Kia has led various segments of the market for value for money, and the value it’s packed into the upgraded Optima has helped the new GT beat all-comers this year.

The Optima oozes state-of-the-art technology, starting with safety. The entire range has active cruise control, which automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front. Tick the box also for lane-departure warning, high-beam assist (which automatically adjusts headlight range according to other vehicles and road conditions) and autonomous emergency braking.

The range-topping GT gets even more safety kit with blind-spot detection and rear-cross traffic alert, a system which warns of other vehicles driving behind you when reversing in carparks.

Other features such as leather trim with contrasting stitching, satellite navigation with traffic information and a wireless Android phone charger built into the console all contribute to what is premium feel and function.

The Optima’s interior displays a sense of smart airiness and there’s good front and rear head and leg room along with a spacious boot. Comfort is looked after with heated and fan-cooled leather front seats, which are also well bolstered and supportive.

Boasting 180kW of power and 350Nm of torque, the new, 2.0-litre turbo-charged direct-injection petrol engine has plenty of power and grunt, and drives the GT to equal-best score in class for performance. Yet it still does well on the environment front with a four (out of five)-star rating, despite fuel consumption that is only ranked as average.

The other area of noticeable improvement is in the minimal sound and vibration experienced in the cabin.

A seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty further sweetens the appeal.

SCORE
1ST: KIA OPTIMA GT , 918
2ND: TOYOTA CAMRY HYBRID ATARA SL, 724
3RD: FORD MONDEO TREND HATCH, 722