Kia Cee'd Sportswagon review
The Kia Cee'd Sportswagon offers more space than the Focus Estate, but lacks the sporty drive its name suggests
Let’s ignore the name – the Kia Cee’d Sportswagon is anything but. Instead it’s a big, comfortable and well-built rival for the Ford Focus Estate, Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and Volkswagen Golf Estate. Prices are on a par with those rivals, too – which may surprise anyone expecting the Kia to be the value choice. Instead it offers good levels of kit, slightly more space and strong economy to compete. Plus the famous Kia seven-year warranty. The two diesel engines are smooth, but not especially powerful, while the ride is more comfort than sport-orientated.
Our choice: 1.6 CRDi 3
It all starts so well with one of Kia’s famous former-Audi designer Peter Schreyer’s nicest front end designs. Kia’s signature tiger nose grille features, with large swept back headlights and fancy LED daytime running lights. As with the hatch, the window line continues to rise towards the back of the car, but that’s where any design flair finishes – it’s a bit bland at the back and looks similar to the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer. The Sportswagon still has more flair than the Golf and Focus Estates though and on high spec '3' models the gloss black dash design is attractive and thoughtfully laid out with a seven inch-touchscreen mounted in the middle of the centre console.
If only the Kia Cee’d Estate wasn’t called Sportswagon – it isn’t remotely sporting to drive. The 1.4 and 1.6-litre diesel engines are smooth, refined and economical, but not especially punchy, and they’ll need to be worked hard if you’ve got a car full of passengers and luggage. The handling errs on the side of comfort, which is no bad thing unless you wear a Sportswagon badge. Similarly, the steering isn’t especially quick to react, even with Kia’s FlexSteer system in Sport mode – frankly we wouldn’t bother changing out of Normal, you’ll hardly notice any difference. If you want a gentle, refined, comfortable small estate, then this could be for you though and the light controls mean its effortless in town while the refined cabin and soft ride make it a fine long distance cruiser too.
The Cee’d Sportswagon is built in one of Europe’s most modern car plants in Slovakia, alongside the Kia Cee’d hatch, Sportage and Venga – that bodes well for its reliability and longevity, too. Good job really, as Kia has the confidence to back its products with a seven-year warranty – worth its weight in gold if you plan to keep your car for more than three years. Kia’s record in our Driver Power survey is reasonably, good, but could be improved upon. The cars are generally reliable, but dealer service needs to improve. The Cee’d Sportswagon comes with all the expected safety gear from a full suite of airbags to stability and traction control systems. And as it’s based on the Euro NCAP five-star rated Cee’d hatch, we’d expect a similar safety score for the Sportswagon.
The Kia Cee’d Sportswagon may be slightly smaller than the old SW model, but it still claims a bigger luggage capacity than either a Ford Focus Estate or a Vauxhall Astra Sport Tourer with 528 litres of room with the seats up, going to a maximum of 1,642 litres when the rear seats are folded down. That’s easier said than done – the seat backs are split 60/40, but to get a totally flat boot floor you have to flip up the seat bases before pushing the seat backs down. There are some hidden storage spaces under the boot floor, though, and lots of storage around the cabin. There’s decent space for four or five people inside with excellent head and legroom for this class of car and comfortable seats.
Kia has decided not to bother with petrol engines in the Sportswagon for the time being – a clear indication that this car is aimed at fleet buyers. Instead, there’s a 1.4-litre version in basic (although decently equipped) 1 level. To get 2, 3, 4 or 4 Tech trim you have to go for the 1.6-litre diesel. Both claim average mpgs in the mid-sixties and sub 120g/km emissions. Other running costs should be low, especially if you opt for a pre-paid servicing pack. Then, of course, if anything does go wrong that shouldn’t do, you’ve got Kia’s seven-year warranty to make sure there are no nasty bills to pay later down the line.