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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Sharply styled Kia K5 revealed as Optima replacement South Africa cannot have

Despite being front-wheel-drive, an all-wheel-drive option can be specified as an option.

Dropped from South Africa some six years ago, not long after a subtle mid-life update, Kia has stuck with the Optima as its flagship sedan in a number of markets, until earlier this year when the designation was phased-out in favour of the K5 moniker used in South Korea.

Now, less than a year after making its debut, the fifth generation model has been detailed in North American-spec where it will compete against the likes of its Hyundai Sonata sibling, the Volvo S60, Honda Accord, Mazda6, the segment-leading Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Dodge Charger and the soon-to-be discontinued Ford Fusion.

Boasting a distinctive coupe-like look with a fastback rear-end, the K5 rides on the same NU3 platform as the Sonata and will go on sale in the States with a choice of four trim levels; LX, LX-S, sporty GT-Line (grey) and EX with the range-topping GT (blue) following later this year. Measuring 4 905 mm in overall length with a wheelbase of 2 850 mm, height of 1 445 mm and width of 1 859 mm, the K5 is both longer and wider than the Optima, but slightly lower with Kia nonetheless claiming improvements in interior space.

Features, depending on the trim level, includes an eight or 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite navigation, wireless smartphone charger, Remote Engine Start, a panoramic sunroof, a flat-bottom steering wheel on the GT-Line and GT, an acoustic laminated windscreen and a four mode drive selector; Smart, Normal, Sport and Custom with the GT receiving a Sport+ setting.

Safety is extensive with tech on all models consisting of Forward Collision Warning, Lane Following Assis, Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Leading Vehicle Departure Alert, Rear Occupant Alert and Lane Departure Warning.

Also available, albeit this time depending on the trim grade, is Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, Parking Collision Avoidance Assist, the adaptive Smart Cruise Control with Highway Driving Assist, Safe Exit Assist and Reverse Park Distance Warning.

Up front, two engines will be offered; a 1.6 T-GDI with 132kW/265Nm and for the GT, a 2.5 T-GDI that pumps out 210kW/422Nm. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard on the 1.6 with the 2.5 getting a brand-new eight-speed dual-clutch. The 0-100 km/h is said to be over in 5.8 seconds. Despite being front-wheel-drive, an all-wheel-drive option can be specified as an option, but only on the LX-S and GT-Line.

Pricing in the States is set to kick-off at around $25 000 (R430 871) but as mentioned, the K5 will not be offered on local shores.

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