Kia Cee'd review
The Kia Cee'd offers stylish looks and a seven-year warranty to rival the Ford Focus and VW Golf
The Kia Cee'd is the Korean company's answer to the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, and it truly cements Kia as a manufacturer that can compete with these established models. When it comes to quality and desirability, the Kia Cee'd can keep up with its rival cars, as well as the likes of the Vauxhall Astra - and it has value for money on its side as well. When it comes to driver enjoyment, the Cee'd falls behind a bit, especially when compared to the Ford Focus. The Kia Cee'd excels in terms of style and interior space, though, and you can even get it in estate form. The Kia Cee'd Sportswagen has a bigger boot than the the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and Ford Focus Estate. The Kia Cee'd comes as a five-door, but there is also a three-door model called the Pro_cee'd. This more stylish version sits on 40mm lower suspension and both versions of the Cee'd are available with extra engine power and a sportier drive, badged as the Kia Pro_cee'd GT and Kia Cee'd GT. These models use a 201bhp, 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and offer a way to get into a fast hatchback for not too much money. Of course, the most popular Cee'd model will be the economical diesel version -the excellent 1.6-litre CRDi.
Our choice: Cee’d 1.6 CRDi 2 ISG 5dr
With the Kia Cee'd competing against the Ford Focus and VW Golf, it had to stand out from the crowd to get some attention - and it has definitely managed that. The large Kia grille and distinctive headlights give the nose of the car a unique look, while the rear could even be compared to an Alfa Romeo thanks to some neat-looking taillights. The high quality of the interior and the straightforward layout mean it feels upmarket inside - perhaps not something people used to expect from a Kia. The Cee'd is offered in seven specifications: 1, 2, 3, 4, 4 Tech, GT and GT Tech. Air-conditioning, Bluetooth and a connection for your MP3 player are standard on the entry-level 1, but you'll have to go without alloy wheels. Go for a 2 to get 16-inch alloys, as well as LED daytime running lights, parking sensors and all-round electric windows (on five-door models). A seven-inch touchscreen sat-nav system come on the 3 specification, as well as tinted windows and a reversing camera and automatic lights and wipers. Moving to the top-of-the-range 4 Tech model, you'll get a panoramic sunroof and a Parallel Park Assist System, which can judge whether the car can fit into a gap and automatically control the steering to help park.
It's clear that the Kia Cee'd has been engineered with comfort in mind. The steering is very light, even in models with the adjustable set-up, but the driving experience is not very engaging as a result. You can choose between Normal, Comfort and Sport modes with this system, but it doesn't feel much, if at all, different in each mode. In the corners the nose feels heavy and the steering needs constant adjustment while you're driving. You can choose between two petrols, 1.4 and 1.6 litres in capacity, and two diesels, with the same displacement. All offer good performance and economy, but at the same time, none are particularly exciting. However, there is an exception in the engine range: a 200bhp turbocharged petrol in the GT models. This version is punchy and feels fast on the road, so for keen drivers it's the only option. For drivers who do a lot of miles, the diesels are the best choice, however, thanks to good power delivery in normal driving. This, combined with the car's decent refinement and good noise insulation, means the Cee'd is comfortable on long journeys.
The original Kia Cee'd scored well for reliability, coming in sixth overall on its Driver Power debut in 2009. By 2013, however, it had fallen to 83rd position. The low running costs, practicality and accessories were its strongest points, but owners weren't happy with the lacklustre handling and poor build quality. The new Cee'd hasn't appeared in the survey yet, but Kia's overall ranking of 12th means it looks likely that the car will be pretty reliable. The Euro NCAP crash tests saw the Kia Cee'd scoring the full five stars, partly thanks to an 89 percent rating for adult occupant protection. The safety equipment list is great, and includes stability control, Isofix child seat fixings, seatbelt reminders and six airbags as standard. You can also get lane-departure warning as an optional extra.
It might seem small from the outside, but the Kia Cee'd is actually very spacious inside, and is practically one of its most impressive aspects. It's just 4,310mm long and 1,780mm wide, but it gets a large 380-litre boot, which is about 60 litres larger than that of the Ford Focus and 10 litres bigger than the Vauxhall Astra's boot. Plus, you can fold down the rear seats to free up 1,318 litres of space. The Kia Cee'd Sportswagon estate model gets a 1,664-litre boot, which also beats its closest rivals for space. There are loads of little storage places around the interior for family life, and the rear head and legroom is very impressive. It's not common for hatchbacks this size, but a six-foot passenger can sit behind a six-foot driver.
It's often the case that smaller engines get better economy, but in the Kia Cee'd it's actually the 1.6 CRDi EcoDynamics diesel that gets the best mpg figures. It beats the 1.4-litre engine by not needing to be worked as hard to go the same speeds, so it returns 76mpg and emits 97g/km of CO2 - keeping it tax exempt. The 1.4-litre unit gets 68.9mpg and 109g/km, so we'd always go for the larger engine. These fuel economy figures are solid for the class, and there won't be much to choose from between the EcoDynamics Kia and a Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion. On models with the 1.6 CRDi and 1.6 GDI petrol engines you can choose to have an automatic gearbox, but it reduces fuel economy figures. Being a Kia, you get an excellent seven-year warranty as well, meaning bills should be kept to a minimum. Servicing is affordable, too, thanks to the availability of fixed-price, pre-paid servicing packs.