ON THE ROAD: THE Optima has always been one of my favourite cars. You might think that a little odd, given that its not from a marque associated with executive estates. But there is something about Peter Schreyer's design that really catches my eye. The latest incarnation is no different, sharp, bold and memorable, it stands out from the crowd.

The Northern Echo:

In the UK, you only get the one engine option - a 1.7 diesel putting out 139bhp and with 340lb/ft of torque.

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It's a responsive unit, if rather noisy under acceleration, and there is some vibration felt through the pedals, but it's really at home in cruising mode, which is great for those of us who like to take the family away.

Steering is light, if a little uncommunicative. Our GT-Line S badged car came with a seven-speed automatic gearbox which changes smoothly.

The Optima rides OK, perhaps not as well as more lofty rivals, but on the motorway there is little to complain about.

The Northern Echo:

ON THE INSIDE: THE Optima's interior is designed around the driver. The centre console, for example, is angled towards them, while the touchscreen is set at the same height as the main instrument cluster so your eyes don't have to dart all over looking for information. The design is clean and fresh, with buttons kept to a minimum - much of what you need is accessed by the touchscreen.

There's soft-touch materials and either faux or black leather trim, depending on the grade of car. Again, it might not be to the standard you might get in BMW or a Mercedes, but I was more than happy to while away the hours in the Optima's cabin.

WHAT DO YOU GET: OUR car came with the likes of 18ins alloys, dynamic cornering lights, LED rear combination lights, satin chrome and body coloured door handles, panoramic sunroof with tilting and sliding function and automatic electric roll blinds, black leather upholstery with red stitching, eight-way power adjustable driver's memory seat, electric parking brake, front heated seats, all-round electric windows and smart key with illuminated start-stop ignition.

In addition, there was DAB radio with MP3 compatibility, Bluetooth and music streaming, Android auto connectivity, voice recognition, Smart Park Assist System, 8ins touchscreen satellite navigation system, reversing camera, Harman/Kardon premium sound system with eight speakers and hill-start assist.

The Northern Echo:

HOW PRACTICAL IS IT: THE Optima is a big car - 4,855mm long and 1,860mm wide - and so it should be fit for purpose. There's room to stretch out in the front and space for three in the rear, though, where adults are concerned, it's probably best suited to two.

The boot has 522 litres of load space, which is up there with the best. It's also simple to get access to and the powered tailgate on our car made life even easier. The rear seats split 40:20:40 and create a flat floor when folded.

RUNNING COSTS: KIA reckon you should be able to get 61.4mpg on the combined cycle. CO2 emissions are 120g/km.

VERDICT: Classy, spacious with a few minor niggles.

ALTERNATIVES: SKODA Octavia estate, Ford Mondeo estate