I was given the Kia Optima PHEV for one week to test out. I wanted to test the fuel efficiency and general performance of the car so I took it on a long journey.
The car has a 2 litre petrol engine and an electric motor, which is powered by batteries. The car can be powered by the electric motor and uses the petrol engine as a generator at low speeds and will drive the wheels at high speed. Roughly, the range of the batteries is 33 miles, though petrol will cover you almost 500 miles.
Short Journey Experience
For those short journeys during the week, you can rely on the batteries for a maximum of 33 miles. But fear not, if you do use all of your miles, the petrol engine kicks in and you can carry on your journey seamlessly.
I was able to charge the car using the Kia supplied three pin plug that is capable of charging the car fully in around four hours. Charging overnight also causes very little problems. As a city car, the technology works really well and the driving experience is excellent when you’re on full electric.
Long Journey Experience – Kia Optima PHEV
But how does the Kia Optima plug-in hybrid get on on long journeys? Can it still provide good high mpg figures? To find out I arranged the journey from Birmingham to the Yorkshire moors and back in just 24 hours.
Prior to my journey, I researched to see if there was an appropriate place to stop and recharge electric batteries using public chargers on the way. But there appeared to be no free public chargers available, with the most common service charging around £6 for 30 minutes charge. This is a little bit disappointing. But if you were to be running a plug-in hybrid on a daily basis, lots of companies offer subscription based services for a connection charge of around £1.20.
Charging the car the night before meant that it had around 33 miles of electric charge and 410 miles left in the petrol tank. So, with my journey estimated at around 340 miles total, I should be able to do this with plenty of petrol still left in the tank. That’s the theory.
At the start of my journey, the car used the electric power first to run down those 30 odd miles. Not using a petrol engine means there was hardly any noise or vibration on the motorway. Exceptionally good. This is one of the major benefits of having a hybrid vehicle.
Of course, after 30 minutes, almost all of my electric power was exhausted, causing the petrol engine to kick in and continue the journey. I couldn’t even notice it switch over, incredible. After that, the car uses its petrol engine to drive the car forward.
The Kia Optima PHEV uses regenerative braking to put energy back into the batteries. It then identifies how to use this power to increase the fuel efficiency. If you watch closely, you will see the engine turn off and the electric motor cut back in every now and then, but you can’t feel it occur. It’s very clever.
As I neared my destination, the Optima’s MPG’s figures were still high at around 73 mpg and 30 miles covered on electric power. This Kia works hard to really squeeze every last bit of energy out of the car even on a long cruise.
We arrived at our destination of the Black Swan Hotel, in Helmsley. Here, we spent time in the local area before heading back the following day.
The Kia Optima PHEV Deals With The Return Leg
Unfortunately, we’d had nowhere to re-charge the car overnight. So, the next day we had zero electric miles left and around 300 miles of petrol range. When we headed back, the car charged from regenerative braking. Using the electric power, the car made the most out of the batteries. You don’t need to fully understand how the plug-in hybrid technology works. It simply works in the background and results in a higher MPG figure for yourself. That’s even without a regular place to plug in the car.
The Kia Optima PHEV is a great, motorway cruiser. It’s soft, quiet and feels very consistent in power delivery. On our home arrival, we had averaged just under 60 mpg for the round trip of 360 miles covered. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great result for this car. But, had we had an overnight charge point at our destination, we could have done even better! A perfect long-distance companion as well as being an ideal city driver, it really is a clever hybrid.