All-new 2021 Kia K5 Takes Torch From Optima

A few weeks after its debut in South Korea, the all-new 2021 Kia K5 had its North American premiere today during a virtual media event. It’s the next generation of the Optima midsize sedan and the name change reflects the automaker’s international nomenclature.

The K5 will be available in LX, EX and GT-Line trim, the last one being a new addition aimed specifically at sporty drivers.

“K5 is the breath of fresh air that the midsize sedan segment never knew it needed,” says Kia Canada Chief Operating Officer Elias El-Achhab. “K5 delivers the top-of-the-line design finishes drivers love, with the added bonus of turbo performance, a roomy interior and the latest in safety technologies.”

Mean Looks

One glance is enough to see that designers injected a good dose of muscle and aggressiveness into the car. The front end is particularly striking with a bulging, creased hood that drops down as if to crush the grille. The latter consequently appears less tall and much wider, stretching all the way to the corners and featuring an awesome mesh design inspired by shark skin.

The redesigned headlights are quite eye-catching, especially with the zigzag-shaped “Heartbeat” LED daytime running lights (similar to a line on an ECG machine). They stand above a heavily revised front bumper with three large openings, the ones on each side incorporating the fog lights.

The profile of the Kia K5 is characterized by new wheels and a chrome strip that emphasizes the four-door coupe silhouette, spanning the roofline and wrapping around the rear window in one continuous stroke. In the rear, the LED taillights are connected to form a single element, while a tiny contrasting spoiler and new diffuser add flair to the GT-Line model.

Roomier and Sportier Cabin

The new interior is defined by wide horizontal lines and a reimagined cockpit. Highlights include a driver-oriented centre touchscreen (8.0 inches standard, 10.25 inches optional), a flat-bottom steering wheel and generously bolstered seats in GT-Line trim, as well as a panoramic sunroof. Too bad the shifter is so dull-looking.

Photo: Kia

By the way, the 2021 Kia K5 is 50 mm longer and 20 mm lower (width is unchanged), with 50 mm of extra wheelbase length that results in more passenger room. The new N3 platform also makes the car lighter, more rigid and more agile on the road, the company claims.

Big Guns

Unlike its cousin, the Hyundai Sonata, Kia’s midsize sedan doesn’t offer a naturally aspirated engine. Rather, it comes standard with a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder producing 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, managed by an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology, an industry first, improves performance and efficiency at the same time.

The real star, of course, will be the K5 GT-Line’s turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine making 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, paired with an equally new eight-speed “wet” dual-clutch transmission for fast and precise gear shifts. Another great surprise is the addition of an AWD option.

Photo: Kia

Finally, technology enthusiasts will appreciate multi-connection Bluetooth connectivity, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility (but only with the smaller 8-inch screen, strangely) and a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system. Kia’s suite of advanced driver assistance systems now has more to offer, with some of the key features including standard Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Driver Attention Warning and Lane Following Assist.

Pricing and full equipment details for the 2021 Kia K5 will be announced closer to its on-sale date this fall. The outgoing 2020 Optima starts at $28,495 plus freight and delivery charges.

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