This is the second time I’ve been banned from driving. But I’ve managed to keep a smile on my face during this recent stint, as my husband has taken time off to play chauffeur in my new Kia Cee’d Sportswagon. And this has given me the perfect excuse to be his back seat driver. What’s not to smile about?
On both occasions, the ‘ban’ was merely a medical precaution while I recovered from surgery during childbirth: technically, you can’t do an emergency stop after a Caesarean. But while I was pretty much left stranded and miserably car-less during the last six-week spell, this time I’ve put my ban to good use.
Stepping out from behind the steering wheel can change your outlook on a car entirely. Ride, handling and cabin noise, for example, could all be completely different propositions when experienced from the passenger’s perspective. So how would the Cee’d SW fare from this angle?
Comfort hasn’t been compromised. Even the rear bench is well bolstered, and there’s enough space, and legroom, to stop the interior feeling cramped, even with two kids and all their baggage and toys in tow. That’s some feat.
Naturally, there’s bags of room in the boot, with a useful 528 litres up for grabs with the rear seats in place. It’s already a happy home for baby George’s massive off-road pram, while the neat underfloor storage compartments are perfect for all the usual family odds and ends. Better still, the simple fold-flat seats allowed the car to double up as a removal van recently, helping us to lug all sorts of furniture across the village to our new house.
The Kia isn’t just practical, though; it’s also surprisingly attractive. From its rakish lines to the eye-catching LED lights, my car looks every bit as classy as far more expensive models from premium brands. Meanwhile, inside are plenty of good-quality, soft-touch plastics, and the upmarket upholstery means there are no nasty electric shocks or static hairdos as you shuffle around on the seats.
The sat-nav is impressive, too. Although this is my perfect chance to bark directions at my husband from the back seat, it’s obvious even from there – with the huge colour screen and clear mapping – that the system is more than capable of doing the job for me.
Being chauffeured around means I haven’t had to get my hands dirty at the pumps yet, but my eyes have been glued to the car’s economy figures all the same. And having spent the best part of last year running our extremely efficient Vauxhall Ampera range-extender, I was bracing myself for the worst.
But the estate’s smooth and eager 1.6-litre diesel engine has been surprisingly frugal, given that the car has spent most of its time sprinting along country lanes on short errands. In fact, according to my calculations, the Sportswagon has returned a respectable 42.9mpg during its time with me so far.
These trips have highlighted one blot on the Kia’s copybook, though: the firm ride. The car crashes into potholes, and spoils an otherwise enjoyable experience from the passenger seat.
All the more reason for me to make up for lost time when I finally get to drive the Cee’d later this month. Rest assured I’ll be taking the wheel at every opportunity – and I can’t wait...
“With its sleek looks, decent refinement and long warranty, the Kia is a fine alternative to Ford and Vauxhall rivals. If only the ride was smoother.”
James Disdale, Road test editor
“The warranty got our attention, but now the cars Kia sells are closer to rivals in styling, performance and quality. The Cee’d should have its European competitors very worried.”
Sidewinder, via www.autoexpress.co.uk