Kia Cee’d 1.6 CRDi LS

It’s the best Korean car yet – but is the Cee’d a match for its rivals here?

If the Leon was a radical model for SEAT, then the Cee’d has been a revolutionary one for Kia. The brand can finally be seen as a genuine mainstream contender in the family hatch sector – a situation that was totally unthinkable only a few years ago with the old Cerato.

Put simply, it’s the best car the firm has ever made, and the fact that it’s even present in this test is a testament to the progress made by the Korean manufacturer. The design is tidy and inoffensive, but not instantly recognisable. Kia seems to have taken influence from existing family hatchbacks, so there’s a hint of Toyota in the look. It’s nothing special, but overall, it’s a modern and tastefully styled car.

Inside, it’s a similar story. While there’s nothing particularly striking, it’s clean and intuitive, with everything logically positioned. We like the chrome finish on the centre console and the well laid out stereo controls, so it’s a shame that the instrument binnacle and door control panel have such a cheap-looking, shiny finish. A large glass area ensures that the cabin feels light and airy, and the driving position is spot-on, too. While it’s not as good as the Leon’s, there’s little to criticise.

Despite being the shortest car here, the Cee’d has the longest wheelbase. The result is that it boasts the biggest boot on test, and the greatest area for rear passengers. Not only does it have the most legroom – 720mm compared with 660mm in the SEAT and Citroen, and 630mm in the Bravo – but it also offers the best head space.

The engine impresses, too. The 1.6-litre common-rail diesel is excellent – it’s quieter than the acclaimed Fiat unit, and equally smooth. It can’t match the larger Bravo engine for power, but feels punchy enough and rarely runs out of breath, even under hard acceleration.

It was off the pace at the test track, though – managing the 0-60mph sprint in 10.9 seconds, which was quicker than the SEAT, but, surprisingly, slightly slower than the Citroen. However, it was faster than both the C4 and Leon from 30-70mph through the gears, taking 11.0 seconds. With more horsepower and torque than those two rivals, plus long gearing, the unit proved very flexible, and picks up well from low revs.

None of the cars on test had great brakes, and in this respect, the Kia was no different. While a stopping distance of 38.3 metres from 60mph is a distinctly average result, this still outperformed both the SEAT and Citroen, although the Spanish contender was figured on a wet track.

Better news comes with the handling, though. There’s not a huge amount of feedback in the steering, but body control is good and the Cee’d is reassuring through corners. It’s also a capable long-distance cruiser, thanks to a competent ride and high levels of refinement. Wind and road noise are well insulated, and the engine is quiet, too – 70mph equates to 2,400rpm.

But perhaps the best thing about the Cee’d is the price tag. At only £14,245, it’s the cheapest car here, and a whopping £1,870 less than the C4. Yet Kia is not merely a value brand – the hatch comes with a market-leading seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, and its dealers were the best performing of the four brands in our Driver Power 2007 survey.

Add in a decent kit tally, including climate control, six airbags and an MP3 connector as standard, and it becomes an even more attractive package. Will this help it take the honours here?


Price: £14,245Model tested: Kia Cee’d CRDi LSChart position: 2WHY: Designed and built for Europe, the Cee’d is Kia’s best car yet, and is great value, too.


During the Kia’s time with us, we saw an impressive 45.9mpg – good for such a punchy engine. And even though it has the smallest fuel tank, the Cee’d boasts a range of 535 miles.


Despite its appeal, the Cee’d struggles residually. The petrol 1.6 GS is the strongest, holding on to 37.3 per cent of its value, while our CRDi retains a modest 35.9 per cent.


While Kia came 15th in our survey, the network isn’t perfect. Owners are not happy with cars being left dirty, and prices were criticised. Three checks on the Cee’d total £604.


Thanks to its low price tag, the Kia comes out on top for business users. Lower-band drivers will face an annual company car tax bill of only £564 – that’s £74 less than for the Fiat.

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