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Kia to launch downsized Optima Hybrid in Europe

The Optima Hybrid has proved popular in South Korea and the United States, where it is sold with a 2.5-litre petrol engine and competes against a crowded sector of full-size hybrid saloons. When it comes to Europe, powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine, it will be the first petrol-electric hybrid in its segment, beating the forthcoming Ford Mondeo Hybrid.

Aside from the smaller engine, the hybrid system operates in exactly the same way as its counterpart. Combining the petrol engine with the electric motor produces 188bhp and allows the Optima Hybrid to reach 62mph in 9.4 seconds. It can also de-couple the petrol engine and drive on electricity at speeds of up to 62mph.

Kia said this allows it to use 10% less fuel on the combined cycle, 28% less on the urban cycle and to produce 21% less CO2 than the 1.7 CRDi Optima with an automatic gearbox. Optima Hybrid uses a six-speed automatic transmission, with the electric motor and clutch housed where the torque converter would normally be fitted.

Also unique to Kia and sister brand Hyundai is the lithium polymer battery pack. Developed by South Korean manufacturer LG Chem, it’s claimed to be 20% lighter and 40% more compact than the commonly used nickel metal hydride batteries. Kia said it will hold its charge for 25% longer when not in use, and was chosen for its ability to balance power delivery, energy density and thermal stability. The manufacturer has included the battery in its seven-year, 100,000 mile warranty.

Benny Oeyen, vice president marketing and product planning, Kia Motors Europe, says: ‘The new Optima Hybrid combines the best of both worlds – performance and fuel economy. It's the fastest accelerating automatic transmission Optima and also has the lowest emissions.

‘By adding a hybrid model to our Optima line-up in Europe, we are providing customers with a fascinating powertrain choice. Our first hybrid production model in Europe showcases ingenious engineering and advanced technologies that will have a unique appeal, attracting new customers to the Kia brand.’

 

Alex Grant

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