Hyundai is still not allowing its Sonata brother - the Kia Optima/Magentis - to catch up. The 'new' Optima has refreshed engine compartments, but must continue to battle in the lower tier of the midsize sector with low levels of power. Might Kia be on to something?
Monday, March 24, 2008
The 2.7L V6 makes 190 horsepower, just 15 more than the 2.4L 4-cylinder powerplant. Battling with smaller, less powerful engines than its competitors may permit the Kia Optima to be seen as a fuel-efficient alternative. Whether that will bear itself out on public highways and city streets remains to be seen. At present, the Optima has a base MSRP a few hundred dollars below that of the Hyundai Sonata in the USA. The story is the same in Canada, where the base MSRPs of both vehicles are over $4,000 higher than in America.
Remember hearing so much about Hyundai being positioned as the Toyota competitor while Kia took it to sportier brands like Mazda and Honda? Taking a look through the showrooms presents a contrarian view. Kia is the company with the lower-powered midsize car. Hyundai is the brand with a new rear-wheel drive coupe and a sedan with a V8 engine. Then again, one New York auto show concept sends a new message.
The Koup looks to be a real Civicesque Si knockoff. That's ok. Kia's sporty little 2-door has some relatively unique character traits. And there's no denying this Kia is sporty. Four-cylinder engines are progressively more potent. Mate the 2.0L capacity with a turbocharger and direct injection and you get yourself 290 horsepower.
Kia needs this car if it ever wants to be seen as anything that approaches a sporting brand.