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Kia Optima and Hyundai i40 driving report: Notchback signs of life

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi and Hyundai i40 1.7 CRDi in the driving report
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W he has actually claims that limousines with a separate luggage compartment are out? Of course, SUVs and other crossover models are far more popular right now. But even if vehicles in the classic three-box design only achieve single-digit market shares in this country, there are still markets and regions in which the cars with the kink at the rear are still enjoying a certain popularity.

In addition to the Asian home of the Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi and Hyundai i40 1.7 CRDi, this also applies to the countries of South America and, to a lesser extent, to southern Europe. So the dominant vehicle shape of the late 20th century still has its justification - especially when it is interpreted in such a modern way as in our case. In any case, the designers Bürkle (Hyundai) and Schreyer (Kia) have shown a lucky hand in creating a harmonious whole from three boxes.

Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi comparatively conservative

The Kia With its horizontally subdivided front, the Optima 1.7 CRDi appears comparatively conservative, but its large wheels and the upward curve in the window line of the rear doors make it appear very dynamic. Fleeting glances often create associations with Jaguar or Saab models - not the worst design references.

The Hyundai i40 1.7 CRDi takes a different approach in terms of style and confidently carries the new brand front. This is characterized by the hexagonal grill, which is interrupted by a ribbon in the color of the car. There is also an eye-catching wave-shaped LED daytime running light, the line of which is taken up by the fog lights and the taillights. Despite the similar basic shape, the Hyundai looks shorter than it actually is thanks to an additional side window on the C-pillar.

But there is nothing to be felt in the interior. Above all, the driver and front passenger of the Hyundai i40 enjoy a very good sense of space and seating, not least thanks to the good headroom and the multiple electrically adjustable seats. Only in terms of interior width, the Hyundai has a little less to offer than its corporate brother Kia Optima. Which in turn extends its longer wheelbase almost completely to the passengers in the back seat, who only have to make slight compromises in terms of headroom. Because the two-part glass roof with electrically operated interior blinds costs a few centimeters of air withoutHowever, to have to wear the warning “dangerous to hairstyle”.

Equipment level in both notchback sedans is high

Basically The equipment level in both models is high, the top variants Spirit (Kia) and Premium (Hyundai) already come with all of the extras typical of the class, such as xenon light, two-zone automatic air conditioning, parking sensors and a hands-free telephone system. Nevertheless, the two brothers in the group differ in some details: For example, while the map navigation system including a reversing camera is standard in the Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi, the customer has to pay 1,510 euros extra for the Hyundai i40 1.7 CRDi. The panorama roof is part of the optional premium package in the Kia Optima, which for an extra charge of 1,290 euros also includes steering wheel heating, rear seat heating and the electrically adjustable front passenger seat. In the Hyundai i40, on the other hand, it costs an impressive 1,410 euros as a single extra.

More important than the fresh air supply are the available assistance and safety systems. Here, Hyundai offers a technology package for the i40 (1,970 euros surcharge) which, in addition to dynamic cornering lights and high beam assistant, has an active parking function and the lane departure warning system with steering intervention. As a bonus, there is a tire pressure monitoring system and a high-resolution TFT display in the instrument cluster. The latter plays its pretty animations as standard in the Kia Optima, but incomprehensibly only with English function descriptions. Parking and lane departure warning systems, cornering lights and counter-steering support are standard in the Spirit equipment of the Kia Optima - bravo!

Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi surprises with smoothness

Why so many words about the equipment? Because the Korean cousins ​​are technically closely related, have the same diesel engine under the hood and are also similar in their driving characteristics. Both offer a neatly coordinated chassis that makes a good impression in terms of handling and comfort. Despite its standard 18-inch wheels, the Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi surprises with a suppleness that we would not have expected, and it also gives in a bit more willingly. The otherwise pleasant steering of the Hyundai i40 1.7 CRDi, on the other hand, occasionally passes rough bumps on to the driver unfiltered.

What both front-wheel drive vehicles have in common is their tendency to understeer in fast corners, which the ESP slows down early on. Their diesel engines are characterized by a certain phlegm below 2,000 tours, but beyond that they really do. Especially in connection with the easily shiftable six-speed gearbox, the Hyundai i40 1.7 CRDi ensures good readings. The Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi was supposed to serve the sporty customers and Hyundai the comfort group ... They are successful notchback sedans, anywayboth.

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