Kia Optima Hybrid Unlikely For Australia, 2.0 Litre Optima On The Cards Photo:
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Mike Stevens | May, 12 2011 | 6 Comments

CORRECTION: 2.0 litre engine under consideration for Australia is not the US-market turbo engine. It is Hyundai-Kia's new 'Nu' 132kW naturally-aspirated engine. Article updated.

A hybrid version of Kia's stylish Optima hits the US market next month, packing the same petrol-electric powertrain driving its stablemate, the Sonata (i45) Hybrid.

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.

In regular 2.4 litre petrol form, the Australian-delivered Optima offers a combined fuel consumption figure of 7.9 l/100km.

Don't expect this fuel-sipper on local roads however. For now, the Optima Hybrid is built in left-hand-drive only, and there are currently no plans to produce a right-hook version.

One likely addition to the local line-up however is the company's new 'Nu' four-cylinder engine, producing 132kW and 213Nm of torque.

The engine has yet to debut anywhere in Optima form, but in the all-new Hyundai i40 it offers a 0-100km/h time of 9.7 seconds and fuel consumption figures of 6.8 l/100km when combined with a six-speed manual transmission.

Speaking with TMR today, Kia Australia's Kevin Hepworth said that while the details are still being worked out, the smaller 2.0 litre model is a strong chance.

"The 2.0 litre models, if they come in, would likely arrive either very late this year, or early in 2012," Mr Hepworth said.

"With production currently limited by high international demand however, customer orders for the 2.0 litre Optima would only replace orders for the 2.4 litre engine - rather than representing additional stock on top of what's currently been made available."

Mr Hepworth added that the 204kW turbocharged 2.0 litre Optima available in the US market is on Australia's wishlist, but remains a dream until a right-hand-drive version is locked in.

"It's not entirely off the books, it's simply a matter of engineering resources. Once Kia can free up the development time and resources to get a right-hand-drive version of the turbo model underway, it's one that we'll be pushing for - along with the UK and probably South Africa, too."

Since its launch in January, the Optima's Australian sales have been strong, although strained supply has kept numbers down.

In April, all 54 Optima cars available for the month made their way to new homes. Buyers are still looking at a three to four month wait on delivery.

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On the bright side, Mr Hepworth confirmed that wait times for Kia's Sportage compact SUV have improved dramatically, with petrol variants hitting driveways within one to two weeks.

Supply of diesel models in the Sportage line have also improved, with wait times falling from 7-8 months to around two months.

Mr Hepworth added that production of North American models is scheduled to shift to a new plant in the US from September, meaning that Australia's supply from Korea could increase in the new year.

A good problem to have? Sales kept low by supply rather than poor product would seem a preferable spot to be caught in, but as eager buyers look elsewhere for their next car, Kia will be keen to get local supply sorted as quick as possible.

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