Kia Optima K5 review: The car that makes head turns

03 May 2012 Christopher In Uncategorized

The car that makes people’s head turns… The new Kia Optima K5

I am not a Kia sales representative nor having any relationship with Kia. This write up is purely my personal thoughts after driving and owning a Kia Optima K5 for almost 1 month and drove approx 5500 KM.

A glance of my decision
My previous car; Honda CRV 1st generation was with me for a period of 4 years, I decided to sell my car as it was already 12 years old and things were not as reliable as before. After going through some personal research and analysis, I decided to go for Kia Sportage mainly due to value for money as I am getting great features.

My visit to Kia showroom in December 2011
I went there with an intention to place a deposit for Kia Sportage but learned that the waiting list was about 3 months and depending on the color.
While glancing through the Sportage, I saw a new model launched and it was the Optima K5. After checking the features and going through the brochure with the build quality, features and engine, I was thinking that this car will cost at least RM150K.
But later learned that it was RM 143,888 which is RM 5000 more than the Kia Sportage.
After a short review and discussion, my deposit ended up on the K5 within the same hour. That’s how my decision was made.
2 months later, I got my K5 and it’s really breath taking experience for me. Thank you Kia for keeping your promise and deliver the car as promised.

Exterior of K5
My first impression of the K5 was the front grille that is sporty yet elegant. The latest design from Kia’s chief designer Peter Schreyer simply blow any minds off. The “tiger face” design is really nice and I just fell in love with it.
I also imagined K5 to be in yellow color and it does at some angle resembles the Bumblebee Camaro from the Transformers. (well, at certain angles and some wild imagination)
The sleek design running from the front towards the rear in a slim sporty look. The chrome line guides as a leading line (photographic term) to bring you from the front all the way to the rear of the car instead of cutting down to the 3/4 as in the traditional design.
The rear side of the car is extended with the tail lights making the car look sleek and clean. Although it’s only acting as a reflector and not functional lights, but it’s part of the unique design.
From the front design to the rear, I have no complains and just adore it.

Head Lights & Turning Lights
The head lights are very bright powered by HID lights and high beam with projection lights. The lights are very bright at night and really shines your way home safer at night.
One thing I love about the head lights are the auto leveling where it tracks your car angle if you are going up hill or down hill. The head lights will auto adjust so it continues to shine at the right level.
For example, if you are driving up hill, instead of the head lights shining towards the sky, it will auto adjust to shine low towards the road and vice versa.
Next thing I like to highlight is the turning lights that is placed in between the high beam projector and HID. While you are driving at night with the head lights turned on, the moment you turn your steering wheel to the left / right, the turning light will be lighted up.
It allows you to have a brighter view on your side so you can avoid any holes or drain while you take that turning. Another cool features of K5 for your safety.
Similar to the previous cars that were designed by Peter, K5 have the Day time Running Lights which are lit with a nicely fitted roll of white LEDs.
Other features of the lights are side mirror indicator lights, fog lamp for better visibility and auto lights on.
Moving to the rear of the car, I can see a nicely arranged rear lights with LED. In case of heavy down pour, you can turn on the extra bright red LED for greater visibility from the rear.

Wheels & Rims
The wheels comes in a nicely designed, easy to clean 18″ rims with Nexen sports performance tires. I have to admit that the tires produced some noise but it’s bearable.
It’s just normal for performance tires to be like that. However, when comes to grip, it’s superb and road handling is magnificent either wet or dry. It has been raining every evening in Penang but K5 handles it perfectly.
The K5 also comes with nicely fitted front bumpers and side skirtings to lower the K5 for a sporty look.

Alright, that’s a brief about the exterior looks. Lets go to the interior. Shall we?

What key? Well, it’s keyless technology solved my problem big time as I am a driver that always look for my keys every time I go to my car. Looking through my computer back pack and sometimes I accidentally left it at my office drawer.
Now, I just need to put the key in my bag or pocket without having to take it out. Just walk near to my K5 and the interior lights lit up as the “welcoming” lights. A soft press on the button placed at the door handle unlocks the car security alarm system.

Operating system
As you stepped into the car, close the door, the operating system starts up with a Kia logo and “welcome” message greeting you.
Step on the brakes and push the button to start the engine. Yes! You do not need to insert the key into the ignition to start the engine. K5 just detects the key within 1 meter range and allows you to start the car.
A 3 seconds “check engine” will run to ensure your K5 is in tip top condition.
The petrol and temperature meter are in digital form while the RPM and speedometer are in analog. I like to see my petrol in full tank as it resembles a smiley face 🙂
At the center of the meters, there is a 3″ LCD display info such as Average fuel, real time fuel, trip A, trip B, elapse driving hours and outside temperature.
One thing I like most is the display shows a nice picture of K5 along with the info. The animation is very impressive and presentable.
A slight chrome along the meter also adds a some elegance looks to it.

Steering wheel
The steering wheel is very comfortable and good for gripping. Its a 4 spoke steering wheel with easy navigation buttons. The size of the wheel is smaller and fits as a sport steering wheel.
On the left, you can control the beautifully installed Infinity radio system. Volume control dial, audio mode button and next / previous button allows you to control and skip songs as you wish without lifting your eyes off the road.
On the right, you will have the auto cruise control and it’s very easy to use. On/off cruise control with speed set, increase / decrease speed. When you turn on the cruise control, there will be a green font “CRUISE” on your meter. So you will know when it’s turned on. When you set the speed for your cruise, you will see the indicator on the meter “SET”. Cancel will allows you to cancel the cruise or simple stepping on the brakes.
At the bottom left of the steering wheel, you can see 3 buttons which are RESET, TRIP and ECO.
RESET button allows you to reset the trackings such as TRIP A or B and Average fuel.
TRIP button allows you to toggle for information in the LCD display which as mentioned above.
ECO button is for you to turn on to let K5 takes control of your driving experience. It will help you to save up to 10% of fuel consumption.
On the bottom right side, there is answer call / end call button. YES! That’s right, you can link your phone to the car audio system via Bluetooth. That’s very helpful to me as I always forget to recharge my Bluetooth earphones and run out of battery. Now, I don’t have to worry about running out of battery anymore.

Steptronic gear system
Unlike other cars that I have seen before they either have steptronic gear system either on the steering wheel or at the gear knob for the “+” or “-“. The Kia K5 comes with both at the steering wheel and the gear know for those drivers that prefer either one system. Know you can either be like the F1 drivers changing gears at the wheel or like computer games.

Dashboard or cockpit
Well, Kia sales rep called it cockpit instead of dash board mainly because the driver experience is more to a cockpit airplane experience. With the considerate design from Kia, the cockpit is tilted towards the driver to ease the driver’s reach for buttons and control.
You can have easier reach for the air condition control, radio, emergency hazard lights, USB and display.
The cockpit is lashed with a nice trim of titanium colored trimming making the cockpit looks more professional.
The material of the cockpit is really nicely done from my opinion. It’s not plastic feel but yet have a natural leather feel and texture.
I compared with my previous cars, it really shows a higher class of excellence.

Interior lightings
I describe the interior lighting color as red, but my friends think its orange. So I just conclude as red/orange then hahhaa.
It is the color displaying the air condition display and the radio display as well. It also set the mood at night by shining on the small compartment at the cockpit where the USB and IPod connector is located. There is also interior lighting at the side of the door compartment. Other than that, K5 have a white pin hole lighting shining towards the gear knob in white color giving visibility for the driver at night.
Like the mood setting by K5.

Front compartment with air conditioning
Yes! That’s right. The front compartment is with air conditioning. I put in 3 cans of drinks in the compartment and my drinks are cold within the next 1 hour. Not bad at all.
But please don’t try to put in your ice cream in there, OK.

Radio powered by Infinity system.
This is one of the biggest turn on for K5. It’s installed with a great 6 CD changer system with 8 speakers!
Yes, it’s 8 speakers; 2 front speakers located at the door panel, 2 tweeters & 1 mid locatd at the cockpit panel, 2 rear speakers at the rear door panel & 1 subwoofer at the rear panel.
You can adjust the audio quality and point of focus by changing its fader and balancing to focus on the audio quality. I personally prefer my audio to be more vocal and hence focus on the mid speakers. The bass, treble and vocal is seriously superb. I am happy that K5 comes with it officially and does not need to self upgrade. Wow!!!!
The radio system comes with Bluetooth connectivity and hence you can play your favorite MP3 list from your smart phone.
It can link up to 6 phones and select to pair by priority.

Answering the phone using the car Bluetooth system is a breeze. After connecting and paired, it will auto pair once you are in the car. To answer the phone, just press on the Green button at the steering wheel at the bottom right spoke. End call by pressing the red button.
the microphone is just on top of the driver and is very sensitive. Please do not speak loudly or shout assuming the receiver hardly hear you.
Just speak softly and as how you normally speak to your friend who is just sitting beside you.
The right front speaker will be the one that activates for phone conversation.

One thing I like a lot is the Bluetooth will ask for your permission to access your phone contact directory. After allowing the access, the caller ID will also Be displayed on the radio display. Hence you can see the phone number or name appearing on the display.

During a call is active, the radio audio will automatically cut and resumes once the call ended.

Driver seat electronic system
Wow, at the price I a paying, I am getting this feature for my front seat. I can now set my seat adjustment setting and do not need to readjust after another driver. That is so cool! 8 ways adjustment seat was provided and one of it, is the lumbar support for my back. It really helps me a lot when I drive long distance.
Although the Malaysia imported K5 does not have the seat heating system, it’s still alright as I do not my seats to be warmed anyway. Haha.

Sunroof and moon roof
K5 comes with a sunroof for front and moon roof for rear. With a slight push on a button, the car linen slides towards the center exposing the sun roof and moon roof. Nice feature added to the K5. Now I can enjoy a night drive while enjoying the night lights at celebration street parties.
You can either open the front sun roof entirely or just a tilt. Sadly, at town area, it’s not something you wanted to do as you may need to cleanse your face later. But if you are heading towards Genting Highlands or Cameron Highlands, then it will be so cool.

Seat experience
The front seat experience is wide and spacious for your leg room. With the front seat adjusted to fit average height passenger, the rear leg room is still very large and spacious. Having said that, the rear passenger can enjoy air condition as well as there are air vent at the center console.
Rear passenger hand rest can be drawn down at the center of the seat and comes with 2 cup holders.
There are 2 cup holders for the front passenger located at the center. K5 does not have hand brakes instead of leg brakes.
Hence allowing a larger space for the center storage area.

My experience with K5 have been great and I seriously did not regret a single bit having this car.
Although there are friends who claimed that I made the wrong choice as Kia is a “cold storage” car in terms of resale value. Well, I do agree at some point as Kia designs were really awful previously. But hey, the design today have won many RedDot awards.
I am seeing more and more Kia Forte on the road today. The perception have changed. The demand for Kia is getting its turning points.
Kia may no longer be a “cold storage” car anymore. Check out the other upcoming Kias; Kia Rio and Kia Picanto for example. They are really nice in design and exciting with tonnes of features.

But for what I am getting now for my money, it’s something that I can never get in other cars within the same value.
I am now enjoying all the above and experiencing a nice ride everyday.

As for the resale value, this is something I will only need to worry maybe 6 years later as this will be my car for the next 6 years.
With 5 years warranty from Kia, it will surely give me more confidence in Kia.

Lastly, this is just my personal feeling and experience. You may agree or disagree with me, but it’s just my own opinion.
Cheers and thank you for reading.

Comments: 16

  1. Ruben 10 Jun 2012

    Thanx for sharing your view on k5.
    U have covered almost every aspect of it.
    Planning to get one soon.

  2. addy 24 Jun 2012

    Hye, i think dis cld b fair view from someone who owned d car..n it has put some points for me to consider in buying a 3rd car..ermm n to wut suprise, if God wills, will drive my k5 dis friday – without need to wait at all!
    Yes, bcoz malaysia r full of T&H owners, not so suprise when many views were biased, n again why must fear of resale value when we’re abt to buy a new car with 5 yrs warannty unlimited mileage?! After all, we’re d one who going to pay, not who cares??

    Btw, may we hav a wonderful driving exp n peace of mind..k5 ok!

  3. Christopher 24 Jun 2012

    Hi. I just serviced my car for 10000 mileage.
    Guess what, when it was 10k on the meter, the LCD screen shows, reminder for servicing my car. Then also rotate my tyres.
    An absolutely smart reminder for many drivers whom are busy with their schedule and chores.

    After my 10000 with my K5, I still did not find any point of complain nor regrets.

    Till to date, K5 is still shining bright and glamour every where I go.


  4. Nick Hoh 27 Jun 2012

    i just like to ask somes bout this car..i heard from someone that around my stayplace complaining that this car got some wierd sound and then they take to SC to check but end up with nothing so the sound still i juz like to comform this because i juz booked this car..pls help..

  5. Christopher 28 Jun 2012

    The engine noise when you ramp the engine is very well isolated. The sound proof design is very well done.
    It can be on par with Honda Accord, Camry, Teana and even BMW 5 series.
    Outside noise from other vehicles and etc are isolated very efficient. No noise from bus and cars beside.

    In case you want to know how well the noise is isolated, let me tell you… I always get confused with the engine before and after start.
    Several times, engine already started and I thought the engine still not started.

  6. Nick Hoh 29 Jun 2012

    thanks alot for ur info..i juz worried because i heard from my neighbour that his k5 got some WIERD sound..but doesnt know wher the sound from

  7. Alvin 1 Jul 2012

    How about the petrol consumption? I’m planing to book this coming weeks because after compare new Camry, Kia K5 is worthly.

  8. Christopher 1 Jul 2012

    Hi Alvin,
    I do not know where you stay and how much the mixture of trunk road versus freeway you take daily.
    But I just want to share my personal experience with you.
    Driving a mixture of 35% trunk road and 65% freeway gives me a consumption of 9.2l/100km average on non-ECO mode. And 8.9l/100km average on ECO mode. (freeway at Penang is around 90km/h)
    When I was staying at KL for a week, with 80% freeway and 20% trunk road my fuel consumption was 9.0l/100km on non-ECO mode. ECO mode is around 8.6l/100km (freeway at KL is 110km/h)

    Anyway, it’s all depending on your method of stepping on the acerelator.

    Hope this helps.

  9. Alvin 2 Jul 2012

    Hi, Christopher:

    Thanks for quick reply. I stay at JB. Your comment is useful. Today i will confirmed my order with Kia dealer. Thank you very much.


  10. Christopher 2 Jul 2012

    Hi Alvin,
    This is surely a great news. I am glad I am able to help.
    I am not a professional in car review, but just to share my personal experience only.
    By the way, what color are you taking? Mine is Silver.
    Wanted to get White but after thinking of the maintenance of white color … i just settle for Silver.

  11. Alvin 2 Jul 2012

    Hi Christopher,

    I have a same thinking with you. Currently i’m own a Black color City…really difficult to take care. That why I also choose the Silver color. But according to dealers, that another new color coming – Purple/Blue. Maybe i will take a look, if nice i will change to this new color. Anywhere how thanks for you opinion.

  12. Alvin 13 Jul 2012

    So happy, I can get my Kia K5 tomorrow-Silver color. Is you tinted your K5?

  13. George 25 May 2013

    Mate, I own a K5 as well and I agree with every single word. For RM143,888K, you have various features and these are useful/practical ones as well.

    Proud Optima K5 owner (2013 model)

  14. Vincent Lim 2 Mar 2014

    I am right now looking for a new car. I am really impressed by the new design ok k5. However, l am also scare to know from the forum that the spare parts need to waits for months. Is this true? I am really confuse whether to proceed to buy or…..choose other model. please advise!


  15. Christopher 3 Mar 2014

    Hi Vincent
    Thank your for your visit to my review.
    As I know, the Kia previously and Kia today is very different.
    So far, spare parts are not an issue for the K5. Depending on what parts are you referring to, the time of getting it from Korea varies.
    As K5 is a fully imported car, hence most of the spare parts are available except those not frequent may need to order from Korea.

    However, from the community, we are all very satisfied thus far.

    Once again, dun listen to people too much. Do your own research and be confident in your research.
    You are paying for the car, not them 🙂


  16. Sam 10 Feb 2015

    It would be sooo nice if I can have this car. I have loads of car parts that I got from and I wanna use them sooo bad

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