2012 KIA OPTIMA SI
Kia Australia has added a new base-model Si variant to its Optima line-up, entering beneath the top-shelf Platinum and cutting $6500 from the midsizer's sticker price.
The Platinum variant has been the only Optima available since the sharp new sedan's local launch earlier this year, arriving with an optioned-out features list and a $36,990 price tag.
With the arrival of the Si variant, the price of entry into the Optima range is now $30,490. It will hit showrooms on January 20.
The Si's price makes it a match for the entry-level Altise variant in the brand-new 2012 Camry line-up, while undercutting the equivalent 2.4 litre Hyundai i45 (the Optima's platform mate) by an even $600.
Power for the Optima Si is provided by the same 148kW 2.4 litre four cylinder engine that drives the Optima, rather than the 2.0 litre unit that was reported as a possibility earlier this year.
Speaking with TMR today, Kia Australia's Kevin Hepworth said that the brand's bean counters have managed to bring the Si price down through features rather than an engine downgrade, allowing the more powerful engine to stay on board.
"The features that have been removed to make the Si are the sort that, while appealing and enjoyed by Platinum buyers, aren't necessarily items that owners see as must-have features," Mr Hepworth said.
"Removing those features and keeping the powerful but efficient 2.4 litre engine represents a better value proposition for buyers."
Around 30 features have been lopped from the Platinum's standard features list to create the Si grade, including the sunroof, sports bumpers, LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights, and HID headlights.
The 18-inch alloy wheels have been swapped out for 17-inch hoops wrapped in narrower 215/55 tyres, and the leather seats have been dropped in favour of a hardy fabric trim.
The Platinum's eight-way power-adjusted driver's seat has been dropped in favour of manual adjustment, and the seat's heating and ventilation features are also gone.
The high-spec Infinity audio system has been downgraded to a simpler package, and the full-colour multi-function display has also been dropped.
The alloy pedals are gone, but dual-zone climate control remains, as does the leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Strained supply has been a thorn in the Optima's side since its debut in January, but Kia Australia's Kevin Hepworth said today that while exact numbers for 2012 can't be locked down, the introduction of the new Si variant means that supply is set to improve.
Priced on par with the popular Camry, we might also expect to see the Optima Si offered to fleet buyers in 2012.
The $6500 gap between the Platinum and Si grades mean we could also see a mid-spec SLi variant join the line-up in the future, although Mr Hepworth said there are no solid plans on that front.
With the addition of the Si and the freeing up of supply, Kia Australia will be looking to build on its 2011 Optima sales which, at the end of November, were sitting at just 773 for the year.
Satellite Navigation for Optima, Sportage, Sorento
The Platinum grades of the Optima, Sportage and Sorento has been well-received by the the market, but the absence of GPS satellite navigation has been a point of contention for some time.
Kia Australia has been working on an Australian-developed system over the past year however, and a debut for satnav has long been expected to arrive this year.
Mr Hepworth confirmed today that the factory-fitted system is close to being signed off, with first-quarter 2012 availability expected.