It’s not too often that manufacturers change the names of their models when redesigning them, however, for the Kia Optima, the name change came with a complete redesign. And while we may never exactly why certain cars are named the way they are in the first place, we do know that the Optima name was finally becoming more of a household name as it was revamped throughout the years. So why did the Kia Optima get renamed the K5 for the 2021 model year?
What’s in a name?
According to Kia, the Optima renamed the K5 in order to make it consistent with the brand’s global identity. Believe it or not, the South Korean automaker does market its cars in countries other than the U.S., so when it comes to more accurately portraying its cars everywhere, Kia thought it would be a wise move to rename their popular mid-size sedan accordingly. For example, the Kia Cadenza is also known as the Kia K7 in other countries.
We think it’s a little weird, though, as alphanumeric naming conventions are typically more well-suited for European brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, however, Kia probably knows best. We just hope that they paid attention when Infiniti started switching over all of its model names from “Gs” to “Qs” and “QXs,” effectively confusing the general public and auto media in the process.
The Kia K5 is more than just a name
Regardless of what it’s going to be called, the Kia K5 does show a lot of promise. For starters, it will have more performance the outgoing Optima model; using a standard 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that will produce 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque as well as an optional turbo 2.5-liter engine that will put out 290 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. The latter engine will be used in the K5’s GT-line and will be mated to an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission that is being developed in-house, which is a first for Kia. Also, we can reportedly expect the K5 GT to get to 60 mph in about 5.8 seconds, which is a full second quicker than the Optima, according to testing by Car and Driver.
It’s not all about power, of course, as the new Kia K5 boasts some handsome styling and striking design features that should set it apart from its rivals from Honda and Toyota. The interior looks like it will be well-appointed as well, complete with leather seating surfaces, a Bose premium sound system with 12 speakers, and an optional 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control and automated emergency braking will be standard as well.
Will the Kia K5 be successful?
It’s really hard to tell if the name change from Optima to K5 will have any lasting effects on the future sales success of the car, however, we do think that Kia has a good shot with this one. If the unique styling features, potent engine choices, optional all-wheel drive, and standard features are enough to win over mid-size sedan buyers, then the car’s shortened, the alphanumeric name should cause no issues.