THERE'S no denying that this year’s facelifted Kia Optima is a stylish and rather distinctive saloon.

It may not have the joie de vivre of the BMW 3-series for example, but this isn’t really Kia’s goal – its success lies in offering practicality, comfort and value for money. The Optima’s good looks are an added bonus.

There’s just the one engine choice - a 134bhp 1.7-litre turbodiesel engine and three trims, the straightforward ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’.

All manual versions feature Kia’s EcoDynamics fuel-saving, CO2-reducing measures, including Intelligent Stop & Go, while automatics have a Drive Select Mode featuring three modes: Normal, Eco and Sport which alter the transmission shift timing, throttle mapping and steering wheel weighting accordingly.

Smart Park Assist, heated and cooled ventilated seats, cornering lights and an automatic cabin defogging system are also available.

Features include alloy wheels, LED daytime running lamps, cruise control with a speed limiter, RDS radio/CD with MP3 compatibility and Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming .

The mid-grade version adds black leather upholstery, an eight-way adjustable heated driver’s memory seat, faux leather trim on the door and centre console armrests, LED front foglights, paddle shifters (on auto only), a reversing camera integrated into the seven-inch sat-nav screen and the Parallel Park Assist System.

A high-end Infinity audio system delivers 550W of stunning sound through 12 speakers in eight different locations throughout the car, including a boot-mounted sub-woofer.

I drove the more luxurious Optima ‘3’, which added a tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof with automatic electric roller blinds, Xenon headlamps with automatic levelling and washers, UV-reducing solar glass, ventilated front seats, a smart key with illuminated engine start/stop button, ambient interior lighting, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Keep Assist System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System.

The dual-zone air-conditioning was particularly effective and kicked in quite quickly too – a relief after a day in a very hot office.

Boot capacity is 505 litres and the low loading lip makes the business of lifting in luggage less strenuous.

The Optima comes with Kia’s unique seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, subject to conditions covering wear and tear items. The warranty is fully transferable to subsequent owners as long as the age or mileage limits have not been exceeded.

Kia Optima
On the road: £24,495
0-60mph: 10.2 seconds
Top speed: 125mph
Fuel: 57.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 128g/km