The Kia Sportswagon
When the car was asked to show that it was as roomy and as practical as the neatly crafted words from the PR people suggested, it was actually able to match the promise.
A nice start!
We had driven the Kia Optima sedan before, which we classed as a very fine machine, so the rich talk of the new space giving Sportswagon (an estate, if you like) being able to gobble up loads sounded interesting.
Up to 552 litres of cargo space was available behind the second row of seats; the 40:20:40 split folding rear seats (standard) offered wonderful versatility.
Our test drive just happened to coincide with a trip to the Recyling Centre.
A lot of you might know the drill - cramming the bins, bags of plastics, which are the hardest to store, stacks of paper, magazines and what have you into the car.
The Sportswagon gobbled it all up. Honestly!
The low, flat boot lip was a blessing when loading the bins, offering plenty of height between floor and roof. Talk about being practical in design!
Someone designed this car with my bins in mind.
It wasn't the usual, packed to the roof experience. In fact, the thought crossed the mind before setting off to the 'Centre that the neighbours might need some stuff recycled.
Another time, perhaps!
One doesn't want to labour the point, but for sheer practicality one could see the Sportswagon as an alternative to many an SUV, albeit without the height.
The room is there for passengers; the 'how you want to use it' room is there for countless other tasks.
And the Sportswagon is a fine looking machine as well.
In Europe, two third of all sales in the D-segment, and three quarters of all fleet sales in this class, are made up by Sportswagon-like motors.
A 1.7 diesel engine
The 1.7-litre CRDi diesel engine is expected to be the big seller right across Europe.
It is available with a 6-speed manual transmission or Kia's new 7-speed double-clutch transmission, which is bred to handled the higher torque output of the turbodiesel engine.
The 141bhp engine is a great performer, yes great, in terms of the spirit it puts into the drive. It never laboured.
It never left you with the thought 'I want more'.
It was up to the job, quietly tackling the demands of secondary road and motorway conditions. The suspension has been engineered to isolate vibrations and bumps from poor road surfaces, and it works.
There was a lovely feel to the rack-mounted electric motor driven power steering, with traction during cornering most reassuring. The general feeling about the handling was it was razor sharp.
The Sportswagon is thrifty too. We did some long and hard driving, but at times the fuel gauge didn't appear to be keeping up.
Kia made the good decision to give a high quality feel to the interior, using soft touch materials liberally, which one reckons aids soundproofing.
The Sportswagon is equipped with Kia's latest audio-visual navigation system (AVN), with the AVN system offering the full Kia Connected Services package with up to date driver oriented information.
The touchscreen infotainment system is paired with a six speaker audio system as standard.
All very well and fine, but can the Sportswagon stretch and respond to the unusal needs of our every day life?
For me it did the job, just as the PR material had promised!
Kia Optima Sportswagon 1.7 CRDi 6-speed manual transmission from €29,950, 141bhp at 4,000rpm, four cylinder turbocharged, 1685cc, max torque 340 Nm at 1,750 to 2,500rpm, top speed 200kph, fuel consumption 5.2l/100km (urban), 3.8 (extra urban), 4.4 (combined), CO2 113g/km, annual road tax €200.
Standard specification - automatic cruise control/speed limiter, dual zone air con, auto cornering lights, 7" sat nav, Tom Tom Wi-Fi, android auto, 18" alloys, auto wipers, parking assist, rear power outlet, USB, luggage side partition, privacy glass, Smart Power Tailgate, Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), seven airbags. Options include - Lane Keeping Assist System, automatically adjusting High Beam Assist, Speed Limit Information Function, 360 degree around view monitor with four cameras, Panoramic sunroof.
Warranty - 7-years.