Monday, October 25, 2021

Auto Review: 2019 Kia Optima Si and Optima GT

MUCH improved. That’s how we’d describe the new 2019 Kia Optima Si and its sporty counterpart, the Optima GT. Now although there’s less choice in the model range, the mid-sized sedan has had an overhaul, complete with keener pricing.

First things first, this is not an SUV. Praise the Lord. It’s a family sedan. Not a large family sedan, but one of those in the middle types. The base model Si is packed with features and the GT is well, we’ll come to that part later.

Jump into the new Kia Optima Si and you’ll find comfortable seating and a simple, sophisticated interior. Everything is where you would expect it to be and the soft closing compartments are a very nice touch.

Although the Si is meant to be the entry level, you actually don’t miss out on much at all, and it’s got plenty of power too, with a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine pushing out 138kW of power and 241Nm of torque through a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy is pretty good at 8.3-litres/100km, and it’s a surprisingly powerful combination that’s perfect for cruising down the freeway or heading for family trips away. The rear seats are comfortable and there’s plenty of leg and head room.

It’s got safety features out the wazoo too, including lane keep assist, hill start assist, emergency stop, reversing camera and parking sensors, cornering lights, and autonomous emergency braking.

Our Runway Red Optima Si looked pretty damn good, but if red is not for you, it also comes in Clear White, Silky Silver, Platinum Graphite and Gravity Blue. It hit the road at $33,390 plus on-roads.

Right then, let’s talk all things GT. Think of this Optima variant as the baby brother to the 200 GT-Line Stinger, as they share the same size engine. Now imagine that engine shoved in a mid-sized sedan rather than a bigger family sedan.

Now add a deep red leather interior, and paint the outside Aurora Black. If you haven’t just pictured cool and powerful then you might have to slap yourself. Under the hood is 180kW of power and 350Nm of torque out of a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder.

It’s mated to the same 6-speed auto as the Si, but it’s not until you fire it up that you realise that the GT is for someone that wants to have a professional look whilst having fun at the same time.

Throw it into sport mode and the the instrument cluster waves see ya later to the fuel economy gauge and brings up your speedo, boost gauge and torque gauge. It’s Kia’s way of telling you that you’ve just entered party mode.

We like party mode. All the fun of the quick GT aside though, it’s also got some great practical features including SatNav and a larger infotainment system that’s easy to use and quick to set up.

It’s loaded with safety features and gets blind spot monitoring and lane change asssist over and above the Si. It does miss out on the cornering lights the Si has though, and has a lower braked towing capacity; 1400kg versus 1700kg.

We did have the opportunity to spend a couple of hours just sitting back with a coffee looking at how the design has improved and sharpened over the last few generations of the Optima.

It’s when you get the chance to do that you notice things like the fact the rear curtain windows actually follow the shape of the roof, and the front grille shape is repeated in the front windscreen. It’s the little things that make up a car’s style and the Optima has it.

The 2019 Kia Optima GT rolls out of the showroom at $43,290 plus on-roads and comes in all the same colours as the Si, plus Snow White Pearl and the Aurora Black we had as a test vehicle.

We had buckets of fun in both model variants that make up the range, and the Optima has plenty of space, plenty of power and is a genuinely comfortable mid-sized sedan to get around in.

If we had to choose though, we’re going GT. It’s too hard to pass on the super cool digital instrument cluster and those spanking red leather seats.

Our test vehicles were provided by Kia Australia. To find out more about the 2019 Kia Optima Si and 2019 Kia Optima GT, contact your local Kia dealer. Images courtesy of Cameron Cooke Photography.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness


Pros - great driving position; cornering lights on the Si; funky gauges on the GT.
Cons - no GPS or turbo on the Si; crowded controls on the GT; lack of engine noise.

The scores listed are for the 2019 Kia Optima GT.
The 2019 Kia Optima Si scored 8/10 for driving experience and 6/10 for technology and connectivity, giving it an overall score of 7.6/10.
Cameron Cooke
Cameron Cooke is a professional photographer and writer with extensive automotive industry experience. He's living the dream as far as he's concerned, working in a career in digital photography and penning automotive content.


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