An Australian debut remains a pipe dream for the foreseeable future, but Kia's Optima Hybrid is winning hearts and minds overseas with a record-setting cruise across the United States.
Travelling through 48 US states over 14 days, the Optima Hybrid logged a 12,712 kilometre journey and achieved a Guinness-confirmed fuel consumption average of just 3.64 l/100km - besting its EPA-approved figures by 61 percent.
The Optima Hybrid went through 5.5 tanks of petrol over the distance, achieving an average range of 2282 kilometres between fill-ups.
Combining a 123kW 'Atkinson cycle' version of the company's 2.4 litre GDI petrol engine with a 30kW electric motor, Kia says the Optima Hybrid will return 6.7 l/100km in city driving and 5.8 l/100km on the highway.
"The drivers had to complete their unsupported drive through all kinds of American terrain and weather conditions and they did it without a single hitch from the Optima Hybrid while setting what is such an impressive fuel consumption figure," Senior Executive Vice President and COO of Kia Motors Corporation, Thomas Oh said.
"While travelling across the United States the Optima Hybrid experienced temperatures ranging from more than 47 degrees celsius to less than freezing point. The team climbed through the formidable Rocky mountain chain and negotiated rush hour traffic in Chicago, New York City and Las Vegas - which makes the Optima Hybrid's fuel consumption figure all the more impressive."
The record set is officially titled "Lowest fuel consumption driving through all 48 contiguous US states in a gasoline hybrid car," which is a new category created by Guinness World Records.
Kia's new record-setting achievement is impressive, but Australian buyers may never get the chance to attempt their own record in a hybrid-powered Optima.
For now, the Optima Hybrid is built in left-hand-drive only, and there are currently no plans to produce a right-hook version.