Kia cee’d first drive

Kia cee’d  The all-new second generation Kia cee’d  has recently gone on sale, first with the family sized C-segment  five door hatchback, most recently with the five door Sportswagon estate and to come are the three door pro_cee’d models.

Designed, built and tuned in Slovakia for Europe the cee’d family first introduced nearly six years ago has been responsible for the emergence and acceptance of the South Korean Kia brand and 55,000 of them are currently on UK roads. The cee’d was also Kia’s first model range to have their seven-year 100,000 mile warranty, a feature now standard on every Kia model sold in the UK.

The cee’d family helped Kia to a total of 55,000 UK total sales of all their models last year, 65,000 is the target for this year and 100,000 is the aim in the next few years.  The cee’d in its various forms is a core model range appealing to retail and business/fleet customers. It follows the now familiar path adopted by all major manufacturers of volume selling cars, sharp styling, roomy, comfortable, well specced and with good fuel economy, low emissions and hence low running costs.  The industry best seven year warranty is of significant appeal as well.

The cee’d five door hatchbacks are all new in body construction and they use the latest updated versions for lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy. There is the choice of 1.4-litre 98bhp and 1.6-litre 133bhp petrol engines and 1.4-litre 89bhp and 1.6-litre 126bhp CRDi turbodiesel units.  The 1.6-litre petrol and diesel units also have ISG intelligent stop and all models have a six-speed manual gearbox as standard.  The 1.6-litre diesel engine has the option of a six-speed auto gearbox while the 1.6-litre GDI petrol unit can be specified with a six-speed twin-clutch auto transmission. CO2 emissions range from as low as 97g/km to 140g/km. With specification levels, depending on the choice of engine, of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 4 Tech, prices range from £14,395 to £23,795.

Kia cee’d  The heartland best selling cee’d five door hatchback is likely to be the 1.6-litre CRDi 126bhp with level 2 specification and manual gearbox and this costs £18,295 on-the-road. This is marginally cheaper than the official price of a similarly powered Ford Focus five door hatchback and quite a bit cheaper than a similarly powered VW Golf five door hatch but discounts are readily available on these models and the Focus and Golf are sharper to drive in the handling department.

My test car was the model described above and with CO2 emissions of 100g/km VED road tax is free, fuel consumption is officially 74.3mpg in the Combined Cycle and Benefit-in-Kind company car tax is 14 per cent. The insurance group rating is 13E.  In reality my test drive mileage, using motorways, A/B roads, country lanes and the usual stop/start commute ended up at 54.7mpg, too far away from the official figure.  Interestingly when I drove the new Hyundai i30 five door hatch, the sister car to the cee’d, this also had the 1.6-litre CRDi engine but with 109bhp of power  and that returned for the same type of driving over roughly the same distance a real-life 67.1mpg, much closer to Hyundai’s official figure. The i30 range is marginally cheaper to buy as well but a customer considering buying one or the other needs to check out the like-for-like specification. To me there seems little to choose between them.

The all-new cee’d looks very smart on the outside, mostly anyway.  Being longer than the original cee’d it has a wedge shaped side profile with a rising waistline. There are plenty of sculptured panels to give the car visual impact with plenty of brightwork to catch the eye.  The smart front lights are extended further along the front wings which highlights the long 4,310mm length appearance of the new body.  The only down-point for me is the horrible grille, it looks like a pursed mouth of a fish and the glossy black mesh insert looks cheap – but it’s all a matter of taste.  My grade 2 test car came with standard 16-inch alloy road wheels and I would recommend choosing that specification. Larger wheels will unsettle the ride and not be as comfortable according to reports from my fellow motoring scribes who have tried them.

Kia cee’d  The interior is really a huge improvement. The quality over the previous generation has gone up considerably. There are nice textures of plastic, its well finished with more brightwork to lighten the generally dark finish.  The instrument layout is first class with big dials right in front of the driver and others controls on the fascia and upper centre console canted towards the driver so it looks very sporty. The fabric seat trim looks modern, if a little on the cheap side but it should be durable. The seats I found really comfortable on my long motorway journeys and overall the cee’d made impressive light work of long trips.  The rear passenger legroom is really good, better than most others in this sector.  With all five seats in use there is a load area with 380-litres of space. Fold the split rear seats down and this goes up to 1,318-litres. Good news, under the load floor is a useful large oddment carrying tray and beneath that is a spare wheel, no useless inflation kit – thankfully”

The handling isn’t as sharp as the best in this segment but by no means would it put me off buying one and in fact real customers, rather than go-faster motoring magazines journos, will see no issues at all.  Even the steering responses can be adjusted for just the right amount of weight and feedback.

Kia cee’d  The grade 2 specification  will be ideal for most customers and includes electric front and rear windows, electrically operated door mirrors, air conditioning, six-speaker audio system, steering wheel mounted controls, leather trim for the steering wheel and gearlever, cruise control, remote central locking, Bluetooth, front, side and curtain airbags, cornering lights, front fog lights and reversing sensors.

The choice engine from the range is the 1.6-litre, 126bhp CRDi turbodiesel.  The other units, both petrol and diesel, I know are a bit lethargic so it’s worth paying a bit more for this unit. Even so the 192lb ft of torque is only available from 1,900rpm, a bit too high up the rev range. With its fuel saving long legged gearing, fourth and fifth gears need to be used more than is ideal to get the required response from the engine during acceleration. In the cruise sixth gear gave a relaxed and quite drive. The engine mapping needs tweaking so the turbocharger gives the engine more of a boost at lower speeds, say 1,500rpm, and then it would be really good. It should also improve the real-life fuel economy with less gearchanges needed.  I suspect that the European tuning has taken into account the less congested straight motorways of mainland Europe rather than our busy UK winding and hilly roads which require engine ‘grunt’ and flexibility.  Top speed is 122mph and zero to 60mph takes 11.5 seconds so it’s no ball of fire but it is easy on the pocket.

Kia cee’d  Most customers looking to buy an affordable family sized hatchback would be pretty pleased with the new Kia cee’d, that’s not undue flattery; it’s a real-life fact. But Kia, like its co-brand Hyundai, is entering price-wise the realms of the Ford Focus, VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra and their models are all currently available with heavily discounted prices reflecting the tough market conditions. The South Korean brands have the edge on warranties but no longer price.

MILESTONES. Kia cee’d 2, 1.6 CRDi with intelligent stop and go, manual, 5-door hatchback. Price: £18,295.  Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel, 126bhp, 192lb ft of torque from 1,900rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 122mph, 0-60mph 11.5 seconds, 74.3mpg (54.7mpg actual), CO2 100g/km, VED road tax £0, BIK company car tax 14%. Insurance group: 13E. Load space: 380 to 1,318-litres. Braked towing capacity: 1,500kg. For: Attractive modern styling, plenty of interior space, high specification, well made, comfortable, 7-year long warranty. Against: Front grille design, fell too short of the official fuel economy figures during our road test, lacks low down engine flexibility and acceleration response, prices are no longer the main reason to buy.   Miles Better News Agency

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