Kia Cee'd ecodynamics

Standalone eco model is a strong choice

With new models such as the Soul supermini and all-new Sportage crossover, Kia is proving that it’s not afraid of making bold style statements.In contrast to these models, the Cee’d is rather conservative, but it’s still a tidy looking family hatch.

The Cee’d was designed in Frankfurt, Germany, and its familiar proportions and dimensions look at home on UK roads. A mid-life update last year introduced a new grille and sharper headlights, but its overall shape was largely untouched.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Kia Cee'd


Visual similarities between it and the i30 are obvious, although the more rounded wheelarches and cleaner detailing of the Cee’d give it the more modern look.

Inside, both cars share the same dash architecture and cabin dimensions. The switchgear layout is ergonomically sound, while reach and rake wheel adjustment, plus a height-adjustable driver’s seat, make it easy to get comfortable.

Decent quality materials and solid build are plus points, while rear legroom is plentiful. But with two near identical cars, the devil is in the detail, and it’s here that the Kia steals a march.

Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) technology is only available on the Kia in 2 EcoDynamics trim, which also includes electric mirrors, alloy wheels and leather trim on the handbrake, gearlever and multifunction wheel – none of which is fitted to the Classic-spec Hyundai.It is the only trim option matched to the firm’s 89bhp CRDi diesel, so opting for an identical engine in the i30 means less kit.

But as you’d expect for cars with the same engine, there are few differences on performance. At the track, the Kia was three-tenths of a second faster from 0-60mph, in 12.3 seconds, but in-gear responses were closely matched and the models feel virtually identical from behind the wheel.

The European built 1.6-litre common-rail unit has a bit of diesel rattle low in the revs, but power delivery is smooth. And given its modest 89bhp output, it feels surprisingly punchy. It’s refined at motorway speeds, too, although the six-speed gearbox is let down by a notchy shift.

Kia’s ISG system, on the other hand, is impressively smooth. Combined with low rolling-resistance tyres, it helps to deliver fuel-sipping economy and low emissions. Despite its eco rubber, the Cee’d’s wider wheels and better suspension provide more front-end grip than the Hyundai. A decent ride and light steering round off the competent chassis.

The Cee’d is frugal, comfortable and well equipped, but is the 2 EcoDynamics good enough to beat its cheaper i30 cousin?


Chart position: 1WHY: In 2 EcoDynamics trim, the Cee’d comes with stop-start technology as standard. It costs more, but higher equipment levels count in its favour here.

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