New Kia Cee'd vs rivals

Can the all-new Kia Cee’d topple the best cars in the class? We test it against the VW Golf and Hyundai i30

New Kia Cee'd vs rivals
The Kia Cee’d has always existed on the fringes of the family-car class. With its value price, generous equipment and seven-year warranty, this car has generally been bought with the head rather than the heart. As a result, it’s tended to fall short of the class leaders.
However, the new model is set to change that. Boasting sleek looks and an upmarket cabin, the MkII Cee’d aims to topple its mainstream rivals. Kia hasn’t forgotten its key strengths, though: the newcomer is still well equipped, attractively priced and backed by a brilliant aftersales package. To see if it delivers, we test the £20,095 Cee’d 1.6 CRDi 3 against two of its toughest rivals.
The VW Golf is our current class champ, and in £20,445 1.6 TDI Match form it’s efficient, well specced and great to drive. We’ve also lined up the Kia’s near-identical twin, the Hyundai i30. Launched earlier this year, it sets the standard for value, yet has the looks and quality to rival Europe’s finest. We test the range-topping £20,295 1.6 CRDi Style Nav.

Verdict

So does the new Kia Cee’d go straight to the top of the family hatchback class? On paper, it has all the ingredients necessary to succeed: it looks good and boasts an upmarket cabin, plus it has composed driving dynamics and comes with a generous haul of standard equipment. As a result, it narrowly beats the Hyundai.

In terms of performance, kit and running costs, the sister cars are evenly matched. But the firm ride counts against the i30, while we prefer the Kia’s sleeker lines and classier interior. Plus, it undercuts the Hyundai by £200.

But what about the Golf? The Kia is cheaper to buy, has lower CO2 emissions and comes with an excellent seven-year warranty. Yet despite this extra showroom appeal, it just fails in its bid to topple the talented VW.

The Cee’d can’t match the Golf for driving dynamics or interior quality. The VW’s 1.6-litre engine is also more efficient, while its rock-solid residuals mean you’ll easily recoup the slightly higher price tag. It wins this test – but only just.

Winner VW Golf ★★★★

The VW takes the victory, yet it emerges from this encounter battered and bruised. Although it’s still the benchmark, rivals are closing in. Either way, it’s great to drive, refined and spacious, while our Match model has all the kit you’ll need. Strong economy and residual values complete the package.

2nd Kia Cee'd ★★★★

Kia should be very happy that the all-new Cee’d has come so close to toppling the Golf. The latest model boasts sleek looks, a quality cabin and a brilliant seven-year warranty, while it’s almost as good to drive as the class-leading Volkswagen.

3rd Hyundai i30 ★★★★

Third place really is no disgrace for the Hyundai in this company. We like its bold styling, airy cabin and generous equipment list, plus it’s backed by a five-year guarantee. Yet in the final reckoning, it’s hobbled by a firm ride and weak residual values.

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