Nobody's ever really explained why cheap things are so rarely designed well, and nowhere is this more mysterious than in the car business. Even if you drop $1 million to hire a great designer to make your economy car beautiful, if you plan to sell 50,000 copies of the vehicle you've increased its per-unit cost by maybe 0.001% but increased its desirability immeasurably. We're not sure how many bills it took for Kia to pry designer Peter Schreyer away from Audi, but they clearly did the same math we did and it's paid off. Kia's whole lineup shows improvement, but we're kind of stunned by Schreyer's new Optima, which looks handsome from all angles—something even the BMWerken and Lexii of the world rarely achieve. Is it a great car? Not our department, although the reviews have been good. We're just glad to see someone who makes affordable cars for the masses truly care about design.

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