The talk of whether or not Kia will ever build a full-on sports car at times seems like it will go on forever without the car ever actually materializing. But Kia does seem to be getting a little close with this, the new Optima GT, a sport sedan unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show. It’s not quite the same as getting a sports car, but having Kia thinking about performance at all is a welcome sign. The Optima GT is intended for the European market, and although Kia doesn’t specifically say that the car won’t be sold in North America, it is heavily implied.

The car being aimed at Europe actually follows Kia’s previous GT models, the cee’d GT and the 2014 Kia pro_cee’d GT. We haven’t gotten a GT version of those cars either, which are Europe’s versions of the 2014 Kia Forte5, but the Forte is just as fast without the GT suffix anyway. Kia also takes a different approach to the Optima in Europe, and this is why the GT will be staying on that side of the pond. It all seems much more complicated than it needs to be, but we’re here to explain it all.

Updated 09/24/2015: We’ve added a series of new photos we took at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Find them in the "Pictures" tab.

Continue reading to learn more about the Kia Optima GT.

  • 2016 Kia Optima GT
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    241 @ 6000
  • Torque @ RPM:
    260 @ 1350
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.4 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    149 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Kia Optima GT High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 646179

The look of the Optima GT is certainly different from that of the regular Optima, but Americans might recognize some of the touches that set it apart. From the rear end, the GT looks essentially the same as the North American SX and above trims of the Optima, and this gets us to the reason why Americans don’t have to be sad that there is isn’t a GT here; the car is basically the same as the Optima SX Turbo that we already have here.

There are a couple of details that are a bit different, and most of these have to do with appearance. The GT has a slightly different front fascia that I have to confess I think looks better than the American one. The foglights are replaced here with big vents that give a much more aggressive look. The wheels are different on the GT as well, although the GT trim does bump you up to bigger standard wheels. There will also presumably be new paint colors offered, since the blue in the photos isn’t currently offered on the regular Optima.

Exterior Dimensions

Length 4,855 MM (191.14 Inches)
Overall height 1,465 MM (57.67 Inches)
Overall width 1,860 MM (73.22 Inches)
Wheelbase 2,805 MM (110.43 Inches)

Interior

Kia has stated very clearly that the interior of the GT is essentially the same as the one that you would have seen in the regular Euro-spec Optima. That also makes it the same as the U.S.-spec car. Black leather is still your only choice for upholstery, but there are some nice options like the panoramic sunroof and the eServices infotainment system with navigation and voice commands.

Drivetrain

As with SX Turbo in North America, the big difference between this and the regular version of the Optima is the engine. Both the SX Turbo and the GT use a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with gasoline direct injection. For some reason, the GT makes 241 horsepower while the SX Turbo makes 274. It’s difficult to say why this would be, especially when the cee’d GT and Forte Koup SX both make the same 201 horsepower.

But European customers won’t have quite the same expectations for the car when it comes to power because the Optima is currently offered only with a 134-horsepower diesel, so even if the GT only offers 241 horsepower, that will still be a very noticeable difference. For North America, non-turbo Optimas pack 192 horsepower, so turbo models need to offer a bit more to justify the extra cost. Still though, would it have been so bad to give the Europeans that extra bit of power? Nah. It’s ok. It’s usually the other way around.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type Four cylinder in-line, turbocharged
Capacity 2.0-litres, 1,998 cc
Max power 241 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Max torque 260 LB-FT @ 1,350-4,000 RPM
Valves 16 (four per cylinder)
Top speed 240 KM/H (149 MPH)
0-100 km/h (62 mph) 7.4 seconds

Safety

The existing Optima has a four star Euro NCAP crash test rating and that is unlikely to change with the introduction of a new trim level. But like the SX Turbo, it will probably offer a number of safety features that are currently only offered on top-trim versions of the car. These include Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). North American versions also offer a rear camera and backup assist, features that will quite possibly make it across the pond with the introduction of the GT.

Prices

2016 Kia Optima GT High Resolution Exterior
- image 646178

Kia didn’t release any pricing information, but it’s easier than usual to make an educated guess with this car, since it’s so similar to an existing model over here. The SX Turbo starts at $27,700, although the equipment packages you need to opt for in order to have things like navigation and a backup warning will add about $6,000 to that price. Estimating European pricing isn’t quite a straight currency conversion. U.K. pricing is usually nearly the same numbers as U.S. pricing, just in pounds, and pricing in euros tends to be just slightly higher in numbers, but about the same value as the price in pounds. For U.K. customers, that means the GT will cost nearly £10,000 more than the base diesel Optima.

Competition

2013 Ford Mondeo (Fusion)

2013 Ford Mondeo High Resolution Exterior
- image 471725

The GT won’t have nearly as much competition in Europe as it does in North America, where it faces a V6 Accord and a V6 Nissan Altima, but it will still have to compete with the Ford Mondeo, or as we call it, the Fusion. Like the Optima GT, it has the option of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It produces 240 horsepower, one less than the Kia, but it costs just under £22,000, several thousand less than what the Kia will probably cost. That’s a big advantage. Hardly surprising that it’s one of the most popular cars in Europe.

Read our full review here.

2016 Mazda6

2016 - 2017 Mazda6 High Resolution Exterior
- image 578924

The fact that it’ll cost you £25,255 to get a Mazda6 with 165 horsepower should tell you a lot about the availability of sport sedans in this price range in Europe. It’s a segment ruled by fuel sipping diesels without any sporting intentions. Mazda’s offering is fun to drive and a comfortable place to sit, but you will notice the power difference.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

2016 Kia Optima GT High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 646177

The Optima GT is far from being a full-on sports car. It’s barely even a new model, but it’s still something to be happy about, even for those who don’t live in Europe. The GT’s market niche is not a very big one in Europe, and that means that Kia saw an opportunity to sell a sport model in a corner of the market that until now had too few options. Does that mean that same could lead to an actual sports car? Maybe, but for now Europe can simply be happy to have a new sport sedan to choose from that isn’t a hugely expensive German model. Moreover, if the SX Turbo is any indicator, the GT will be a great car.

  • Leave it
    • unreasonable levels of option bundling
    • less power than North American version for no discernible reason
    • likely to be expensive when compared to what competition there is

Press Release

Kia Motors Europe has today announced that a high-powered version of the all-new Kia Optima is in development. The new Optima GT will be Kia’s first-ever high performance Optima in Europe when it goes on sale in 2016.

2016 Kia Optima GT High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 646177

The Kia Optima GT is being shown for the first time today at the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA), alongside the all-new Optima in European production specification. Set to introduce the Kia brand to those looking for a more emotive, performance-oriented drive, the Optima will be Kia’s second GT model, after the cee’d GT and pro_cee’d GT were introduced to the European market in 2013.

More athletic design, inside and out

The Optima GT will boast a more athletic appearance than the standard Optima model – already one of the most distinctive, bold-looking cars in the D-segment. Previewed today as a prototype in Frankfurt, the production-ready Optima GT will feature a redesigned ‘tiger-nose’ grille, bold body styling, and a new wheel design.

Inside, the Optima GT will be based upon the same refined, high-quality interior found in standard versions of the all-new Optima, with a more dynamic intent in its execution, to leave drivers in no doubt as to the sporty character of the car.

On-road performance to match more dynamic brief

The new Optima GT is currently in development as a collaborative effort between Kia’s global R&D centre in Namyang, Korea, and the company’s European R&D centre in Rüsselsheim, Germany. The result will be a sports sedan that matches the dynamic expectations of European drivers.

2016 Kia Optima GT High Resolution Exterior
- image 646178

Ride, handling and performance will each be tuned to match the Optima GT’s more muscular appearance and dynamic brief, without compromising the refinement and comfortable ride of the more conventional models in the range

Engineered for European roads, the Optima GT will get its own unique suspension settings compared to standard models in the Optima range, and will be fitted with a new Electronically-Controlled Suspension system, to provide individualised damping force to each wheel. Larger disc brakes and a tailored version of Kia’s new rack-mounted motor-driven power steering (R-MDPS) will further improve the Optima GT’s dynamic performance.

Offering a higher power output than other models in the range, the Optima GT will be powered by a 2.0-litre T-GDI (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engine.

Further technical details of the Optima GT will be announced closer to the car’s European launch.

All-new Kia Optima range on-sale in Europe in Q4 2015

The standard all-new Kia Optima range will go on sale across Europe in Q4 2015, with the Optima GT to follow in 2016. The Optima range is due to expand in future, with the addition of a new body style inspired by the Kia SPORTSPACE concept car, first shown at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show.

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