By on October 30, 2019

While the writers of this website do not universally endorse the designs coming out of Hyundai Motor Group, the general consensus is that there has been a concerted effort on behalf of the styling department to up its game. Pretty much everything the company as previewed for us over the last couple of years has at least been interesting. We even said so earlier this week, after Hyundai teased the new Azera/Grandeur.

While that model is likely to remained locked inside other parts of the globe for now, North America is getting boldly redesigned versions of the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. Whereas the Sonata is being prepped for sales this fall, Optima is a bit further out — likely arriving for the 2021 model year. But it should have a similarly ambitious and impactful design, assuming the latest mockups are indicative of the production car. 

Structurally related, both models will be 4-door fastbacks with heaps of accenting illumination near the headlamps and taillights that stretch across the vehicle’s entire rump. However, the Kia keeps its signature “tiger-nose” grille and incorporates enough of the old version to be vaguely identifiable as its successor. Nobody is going to have any trouble telling the two apart, but they will also be able to point out the obvious similarities.

On the inside, Optima looks subdued and classy. Kia’s renderings showcase a handsomely uncluttered space, perhaps a bit more upscale than what we would normally expect from the brand. There’s a digital gauge cluster, larger multimedia screen, and a rotary shift knob … though it could be a multimedia controller similar to BMW’s iDrive. We didn’t see anything else to get you out of park, so we’re making an assumption.

Guts remain a mystery but it’s extremely probable that the manufacturer will borrow equipment from the Sonata. Expect the Optima to come with a turbocharged 1.6-liter motor (180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet) or the less flashy 2.5-liter (191 hp and 181 lb-ft). Both engines should end up with an eight-speed automatic transmission as their partner in crime.

While a more-powerful engine has been rumored to be in development for the Sonata, it’s not expected at launch. However the Kia should be eligible when (and if) it finally manifests.

We’ll learn more about the Kia Optima over the coming months, once it has debuted in South Korea (where it’s called the K5). Models slated for North America probably won’t start appearing until 2020 — with sales commencing closer to the year’s end or early 2021.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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