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 |  Nov 01 2011, 12:35 PM

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After taking the championship in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge street tuner challenge this year, Kia is announcing further commitments to the world of motorsports.

In addition to the 2012 Rio B-Spec racer, built by Kia Racing and Kinetic Motorsports, Kia has unveiled an Optima Hybrid pace car for the United States Touring Car Championship. The Optima, built by GoGoGear.com, actually replaces the modified Soul that severed last year.

It may be a hybrid, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring, already deliver over 200-hp in stock form the car gets a Magnaflow exhaust system and air intake kit. So it’s not sloppy when out on parade laps the car also gets a coilover suspension, and looks the part with a new aero kit (including front splitter and rear spoiler), plus the usual light bars. And no SEMA car would be a SEMA car without an over-the-top 2400-watt Infintiy audio system.

Look for the Optima Hybrid Safety Car to first hit the track at the USTCC in March of 2012.

GALLERY: Kia Optima Hybrid USTCC Safety Car

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See AutoGuide’s complete 2011 SEMA Show coverage here.

 |  May 12 2011, 11:44 AM

South Korean car firm Kia has been enjoying a lot of praise given to the styling of their new cars, especially the Optima sedan. Now the Optima Hybrid version is about to hit the market and we have learned it’s prices will start at $26,500.

That’s not all, because that price-tag does not include the $750 extra you’ll have to pay for the destination and handling. That means, this fuel-sipping sedan is not cheap, and crucially, it is $705 dearer than the similar Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

Kia says the reason the Optima Hybrid is more expensive is because it comes with more standard equipment, like a reversing camera, a rear spoiler, auto-down front windows, a cooling box, a compass and “Uvo”, which is their latest infotainment system.

Expect this model to hit the showrooms very soon.

Read AutoGuide’s 2011 Kia Optima Review

 |  Nov 18 2010, 4:20 PM

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Poor Kia, always playing second fiddle to big brother Hyundai, including when it comes to Hybrids. Many months after the debut of the new Sonata Hybrid, the car’s twin, the new Kia Optima, now gets its own hybrid variant.

Using the same 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor and lithium-polymer battery, the combined output is 206-hp and 196 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel economy is projected to be 40-mpg on the highway says Kia, and if the package matches the Sonata Hybrid it will also get 36-mpg in the city. As a two-mode hybrid the system can operate on just electric power at up to 62 mph.

Unique to the hybrid model is a new front grille and 16-inch wheels, as well as headlights, fog lights, new front and rear lower bumpers and a rear spoiler.

Standard features include eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, dual zone climate control with rear vents, push-button start with smart key, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, automatic up/down on front windows, chrome interior door handles and a fixed rear seat with ski pass-through. An optional Premium Technology Package includes a panoramic sunroof, four-way power passenger seat, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, HID lights and a Nav system with 8-speaker infinity audio system.

Unique to the Optima Hybrid is a Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS), that plays an engine sound when in pure electric mode to notify pedestrians that the car is running.

Kia will also give the car an industry best 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.

Click Here to Read AutoGuide’s Review of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Click Here to Read AutoGuide’s Review of the 2011 Kia Optima

GALLERY: 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid Debut in LA

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GALLERY: 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid

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Official release after the jump:

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