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Kia Becomes A Player

Posted on: 16th Jan 2013

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Will It Suit Me?
It wasn't long ago that a Kia was something you bought on price. You'd really rather have had something else but Kia did it for less. Not quite as smartly and effectively perhaps but you bought a Kia and you got the job done.

With the second generation cee'd, it's time to start looking at this Korean brand in a different way. Here is a car that is at least as good as the Family Hatchback class favourites - your Astras, Focus's and Meganes - but costs less to buy and to own. That works for me.

For someone like me who in the past has had some experience of some frankly rather poor South Korean products, the reality of climbing aboard this Kia comes as something of a shock. From the moment the doors thunk shut to the dawning that some of the interior finishes are class-leading, the c'eed has the capacity to surprise. Even the base-spec 1.4-litre variant I tried carries the right stuff in its DNA. It's not flashy. It won't be the darling of the style set but it's a whole lot more car than you could imagine at this price point.

There's plenty of space in the rear and I had no problem lumping child seats in and out - or with the weekly Tesco shop. The plastics seem pretty hard-wearing and the design seems as child-proof as it's possible to get at this price point.

Behind the Wheel
It's fair to say the 98bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine is probably the least impressive aspect of this car. If it was me, I'd find a little extra to get the equivalent 1.6-litre petrol variant with another 35bhp and another slug of torque that makes it usefully more relaxed at motorway cruising speeds. Still, the 1.4-litre model has a bit more go than you might imagine given the c'eed's size.

Conspicuously lacking the higher performance options offered by its rivals, the cee'd concentrates on keeping costs manageable with a choice of this 1.4, plus a larger 1.6-litre GDI petrol engine, along with a choice of either 1.4 or 1.6-litre CRDi diesels.

The 1.4-litre petrol unit I tried manages a 12.4s 0-60mph time, while the 1.6 has 133bhp getting it to 60mph in 9.8s. The CRDi diesel option will be the best cee'd engine choice for many with its common-rail injection system and is available in 89bhp 1.4 or 126bhp 1.6-litre guises. The higher powered model benefits from a variable geometry turbocharger and can cover the 0-60mph increment in 11.5s.

Value For Money
No need for a crash course in Kia trim level nomenclature. The manufacturer has thoughtfully kept things simple by presenting buyers with a choice of cee'd 1, cee'd 2, cee'd 3, cee'd 4 and cee'd 4 Tech models and this design comes as a five-door hatchback or an SW estate. Crucially, and as any Kia dealer will be at pains to remind you, all cee'ds come with Kia's excellent 7-year/100,000-mile warranty.

As standard, cee'd buyers get remote central locking, an MP3 compatible CD stereo with AUX/USB port, air-conditioning, a trip computer and airbags of the front, side and curtain varieties.

Whichever trim level you choose, the interior of the cee'd is an impressive piece of design. It's a touch bigger in most of the key measurement criteria than a Focus without looking like an MPV in the process. Where the car really succeeds is in resisting the temptation to once more lapse into wackiness, the controls being beautifully finished and resolutely straightforward to use without losing the focus on design elegance. The best designs are those which function best and in this regard, the cee'd scores a bullseye.

Could I Live With One?
Rather to my surprise, the answer is yes. Some of the other cars in the sector still feel slightly more sophisticated but the price saving and that achingly long warranty would more than make up for that.

Here is a Kia that needs no apologies - a car that sells on quality as well as price. If you're buying a car in this sector, it's an alternative you can't afford to ignore.



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