2021 Kia K5 debuts as replacement for Optima

2021 Kia K5 debuts as replacement for Optima

The third-generation Kia Optima was a design revelation for the boring sedan segment when it was launched in 2011. The fourth-gen followed in 2016, bringing some edgy styling to the table and the once ugly duckling turned into a darn good-looking swan. For its fifth gen, Kia has dropped the Optima name altogether and has launched it as the 2021 Kia K5, which has been its Korean-market name for the past decade.

Any new Optima is expected to flaunt an edgier design than before and the 2021 Kia K5 does not disappoint. While the closely-related Hyundai Sonata wears a graceful cloak, the 2021 K5’s wardrobe choice is a bit more aggressive. Very few traits of the outgoing Optima can be found on the new K5. The signature tiger-nose grill of the new K5 is wider and narrower than ever and it flows into the sleek headlamps. The hood flows into the grill while the air intake on the bumper is connected to the LED fog lamps on either side via a narrow black plastic trim. The LED DRLs flaunt a “heartbeat” pattern that will soon appear on other Kias as well.

A signature feature of the Optima that found its place on the K5 is the chrome line that follows the roofline and on to the C-pillar.  It then goes on to wrap the rear windshield along its bottom edge. The rear is more raked than before, emphasising the fastback-like stance of the K5 (but remains a sedan with a small boot opening). The now customary full-length LED panel is here too. An eyesore on the rear design is the pair of fake air extractors placed on either side of the bumper.

The interior is all-new, just like the exterior. The top GT-Line and GT trims get a flat-bottomed steering wheel. A large gear selector finds home in this cabin, instead of the fiddly knobs and buttons that modern cars are now regularly getting. A standard 8.0-inch touchscreen is offered, while a 10.3-inch unit is offered as an option. The package includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A huge list of safety features is also bundled in as the Kia Drive Wise safety suite. This includes lane-keep assistance, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, and driver-attention warning as standard. On top of these, optional features like lane-centering assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, and navigation-based adaptive cruise control can be added.

Doing business at the front is either a 150 hp 2.0-litre engine or a bigger 2.5-litre 191 hp engine, both offered in the GCC. In regular Kia Middle East fashion, the new standard engine for the international markets — a 180 hp 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo unit — does not seem to be destined for our market. The spicier Kia K5 GT will arrive later in the United States with a turbocharged 2.5-litre engine producing 290 hp and 422 Nm. Given the trend of offering only older engines here, we would not get our hopes high to see that on our roads. There is another tech that the GCC-Spec Kia K5 does not get — all-wheel-drive. Though not demanded by our weather, it would be nice to see a near-300 hp sedan with AWD for a relatively low price in our market. Especially when it looks this sharp.

For prices and options on the 2021 Kia K5, check out our Kia K5 buyer guide.

What do you think?



  1. What a value-for-money beauty!

  2. Big pity that AWD turbo will not come here… Actually, with some many SUV on the market, there is a huge space for budget AWD sedans, currently only Subaru with Legacy. Even Altima 4×4 will be available only in us, but not here in GCC.

  3. dear Drive arabia did we ever find out why kia skips on these engines and advance saftey tech like lanke keep and radar cruise.. even though all is offered now by honda … even toyota is doing same stupidity with camry,, nissan is also giving all bells whistles mazda also … really would be interesting to know the logic really good looking cars but with outdated features and engines.. heck even kia cadenza skips on radar cruise and also i think stinger …

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