2011 Kia Optima (Magentis) Revealed Before New York Show

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Which company has the hottest design team?  Certainly a number of premium brands create some seriously sweet eye candy, but this is expected being that styling is one of the reasons people pay more to move up to a luxury or sports car.  It's within the entry-level brands that beautiful design is harder to find, and Kia has finally figured out that good looks will take them everywhere! 

"The next generation Optima (Magentis) possesses the power to surprise," commented Peter Schreyer, Kia's Chief Design Officer.  "It's a car that people will simply not expect from Kia – and that's exactly what we set out to achieve."

Not expect from Kia?  We don't see it that way, Mr. Schreyer.  Kia has revised its lineup almost entirely, and its cars are some of the most attractive in their various segments.  It started with the ultra-cool Soul compact crossover and has since been followed up with the hot little Forte sedan and two-door Forte Koup.  The Cadenza concept was shown next, seemingly a thinly disguised flagship replacement for the poorly received Amanti luxury sedan, after which the all-new 2011 Sorento broke cover.  Recently an all-new Sportage compact crossover was revealed, going from functional but somewhat frumpy to fun and extremely stylish. 

What do all of these vehicles have in common? Except for the Soul, which stands apart in its own extremely funky way, they all sport Kia's new chiseled design language internally dubbed 'tiger' family, a look that will also transform the mildly-styled Magentis from midsize wallflower to four-door superstar. 

Set to debut at the New York International Auto Show in a few weeks, badged with the US-only Optima nameplate, Kia's midsize sedan looks fabulous, not only due to the new design but also because it is longer, lower and wider than its roundish predecessor. 

Kia uses the words "athletic confidence" to describe its "raked roofline, the high and pronounced shoulder line of its sculpted flanks and its extended wheelbase… complemented by boldly flared wheelarches and a shallow glasshouse that create a saloon with a muscular and self-assured stance."  Projector headlamps add to the midsize model's upscale appearance. 

"The Optima embodies Kia's confident new design direction," adds Schreyer. "It's a global car with individual appeal."

As far as what's behind the glass or under the skin, Kia isn't letting anything out of the bag just yet.  Everyone knows that the Magentis/Optima shares its underpinnings with the Hyundai Sonata, also redesigned for model year 2011, so it will likely share the two four-cylinder engines being offered by its sleek and luxuriously appointed new Korean cousin.  The base Sonata engine is a 2.4-litre DOHC, 16-valve, direct-injection four-cylinder with Dual-CVVT making 198hp and 186 lb-ft of torque while achieving an estimated 8.7 / 5.7 / 7.4 city / highway / combined L/100km respectively partially thanks to a 6-speed manual transmission; an optional six-speed automatic with manual mode gets 9.4 / 5/7 / 77 respectively.  The upgrade engine in the Sonata is also a 2.4-litre, but turbocharged to make a V6-like performance.  Hyundai has not yet released specifications for the turbo, or an upcoming hybrid model, but both are expected to debut in New York as well.  

Kia promises a "spacious" interior and "class-leading levels of safety and luxury equipment" too, with an "intelligently configured and driver-oriented cabin" underpinned by "newfound poise and presence." 

The new Optima/Magentis debuts on April 1st at New York's Jacob Javits Center. 

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Kia, 2011, Magentis, Optima, $20,000 - $29,999,

Geographic location: New York

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