Kia Cee'd review
The Kia Cee'd has a range of talents that make it strong enough to rival the Ford Focus and VW Golf
Kia’s march on mainstream rivals like the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra continues apace. In terms of driving enjoyment, the new Cee'd is still some way off the pace of the dynamic brilliance of the Golf and Focus. But the Korean car maker has created a stylish and spacious small family car that’s well built, easy to drive and even easier to live with. For once, though, this is a Kia Cee’d that is about more than just a seven-year warranty – it has the quality and desirability to really appeal among such strong rivals. There will soon be a rakish three-door model added to the range along with a performance version using the same 1.6-litre turbocharged engine from the Hyundai Veloster Turbo.
Our choice: Cee’d 1.6 CRDi 2 ISG 5dr
In a conservative market, the Kia Cee’d stands out. From its oversized ‘Tiger’ grille to those large headlamps that swoop around the sides of the car, it’s more striking than the conservative Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. The high-rising waistline is not unlike the Vauxhall Astra's, while the tidy back-end features protruding rear lights that wouldn’t look out of place on an Alfa Romeo. The styling inside is just as impressive: from the easy-to-read dials to the simple air-con controls, it blends good looks, high quality and excellent usability. However the more expensive high-spec '3' models are significantly better trimmed than the basic entry-level versions.
The Cee’d is not a fun car to drive. The steering is overly light and doesn’t improve if you go for a model with ‘Flex Steer’ with its Sport, Comfort and Normal modes. The nose feels heavy when you go into tight corners and you’re constantly adjusting your steering line, both in the bends on straight roads, too. All four engines are satisfactory, but no more, while both ride and steering feel very relaxed and indirect. Only the comparatively thirsty 1.6-litre petrol manages 0-60mph in less than 10 seconds, which is disappointing for such a modern family hatch. Still it is fairly relaxing to drive and would cope with long distance journeys easily thanks to its hushed cabin and comfortable, wallowy ride.
The old model gained a full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, and with six airbags as standard, the new model scored just as highly in all areas tested. Kia has also further developed its anti-skid systems, while safety kit such as lane departure warning is available. Kia’s strong showing in our Driver Power surveys over the years mean your car should remain pretty much trouble free, while dealers are rated reasonably well. And just in case anything should go wrong, there’s the reassurance of Kia’s famous industry-leading seven-year warranty.
The Kia Cee’d is a seriously spacious small family car. Its rear legroom and headroom is particularly impressive, with full-sized adults being able to sit comfortably behind a six foot driver. There’s decent shoulder room and the boot is one of the biggest in the class, too. At 380 litres, it’s 64 litres bigger than a Ford Focus, and that rises to 1,318 litres if you fold the rear seats down. They’re easy to fold perfectly flat, too, and there are plenty of places for water bottles, mobile phones and other bits and pieces dotted around the cabin.
Our pick of the range is the larger 1.6 CRDi Ecodynamics diesel, which actually outperforms the 1.4 CRDi both in terms of performance and economy. It'll manage 76mpg and just 100g/km - making the smaller unit largely pointless, especially when you consider the tiny price premium commanded by the 1.6 CRDi. That said, although your fuel bills won’t be massive, they’ll be no better than if you were running a VW Golf BlueMotion or Ford Focus EcoBoost. If you want an automatic, you can either get a six-speed auto with the 1.6 CRDi in '2' trim, or go for the thirstier and dirtier 1.6 GDI petrol. It's worth noting that Kia offers a comprehensive seven-year warranty to shield you from any unexpected bills, while servicing won’t dent the finances too much, either.