REVIEW DATE: 13 Nov 2009
It seems like yesterday that Kia were building forgettable cars. Now the Koreans are really raising some eyebrows with models like the c'eed 1.6 - a family hatchback that that more than punches above its weight. Jonathan Crouch reports
Kia's cee'd family hatchback has been usefully improved in recent times. Sharper looks, enhanced dynamics and better economy are not to be sniffed at. How does the most popular 1.6-litre petrol version stack up?
The c'eed is a car that in its short life has already made the major European manufacturers suit bolt upright and take notice. Here we take a look at the car that'll shift the most units - the 1.6-litre petrol model. With 124bhp at its disposal the 1.6-litre c'eed is no sluggard and is usefully quicker than the rather reluctant 1.4-litre petrol unit that acts as the entry-level powerplant.
It does need a bit of right boot to access all of its available performance though, with peak power arriving at a rather raucous 6,200rpm and peak torque of 154Nm not making itself felt until the tacho needle hits 4,200rpm. This means that the engine doesn't feel notably punchy off the line in the same way as the excellent 1.6-litre CRDi diesel does but if you're prepared to keep it on the boil, it can cross country at a respectable clip.
Buyers get a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes. The steering lacks a little of the polish of some of the very best contenders, although we're talking about tiny percentage differences. There's certainly very little in it when it comes to ride quality, the Kia adopting much the same MacPherson strut front suspension as the best of its rivals and a clever independent set-up at the rear that is , in effect, a torsion beam that's articulated in the middle. The cee'd corners well with well-suppressed lateral roll and even when provoked, steadfastly refuses to do anything unexpected. The long wheelbase helps ride quality with only lumpy B-roads showing up any flaws in deportment.
Today's cee'd is a bolder proposition visually thanks to a facelifted front end featuring Kia's wide chrome-ringed grille and sharp creases running down the bonnet to the angular light clusters. The tail end has LED lights and a subtle tweaked bumper design. The car still plays it safe in terms of its overall look but the extra character will not go amiss in marking it out from the crowd.
"Today's cee'd is a bolder proposition."
Although it was indisputably a massive step in the right direction for Kia, the original cee'd interior still lagged a little way behind the family hatch sector's finest. The latest cars attempt to address this and while you'll never mistakenly think you've climbed aboard a Volkswagen Golf, most of the materials and detailing work to pleasingly upmarket effect. There's plenty of space inside the cee'd with ample accommodation for four adults (the fifth might be a little squashed) and a monster of a boot. There's capacity to carry 340 litres in the rear and up to 1,300 litres with both sections of the 60:40 split rear bench folded down. If you need more, there's the option of an SW estate model with 534-litres before you start folding the seats.
No need for a crash course in Kia trim level nomenclature. The manufacturer has thoughtfully kept things simple by presenting buyers with a choice of cee'd 1, cee'd 2 and cee'd 3 models. The cee'd comes as a five-door hatchback or an SW estate. If you want a sporty three-door, there's the even more elaborately punctuated pro_cee'd. Crucially, and as any Kia dealer will be at pains to remind you, all cee'ds come with Kia's excellent 7-year/100,000-mile warranty.
As standard, cee'd buyers get remote central locking, an MP3 compatable CD stereo with AUX/USB port, air-conditioning, a trip computer and airbags of the front, side and curtain varieties. The cee'd 2 adds heated electric mirrors, front fog lights, leather trim details and 16" alloy wheels. Go for the range-topping cee'd 3 and there's bigger alloys, a number of sporty styling enhancements, climate control and Kia's Vehicle Stability Management system.
The 1.6-litre engine does reasonably well at the fuel pumps, returning an average of 46.3mpg. on the combined cycle. The continuously-variable valve timing helps efficiency and also means that the engine is good on emissions, something that hasn't always been the case with South-East Asian powerplants. At just 146g/km, the cee'd is miles better than, say, a Ford Focus 1.6 which emits 159g/km.
Used values will doubtless be propped up quite nicely by Kia's excellent warranty arrangement. Buyers get full cover for seven-years or 100,000 miles. It's about as good as the industry can offer and puts mainstream rivals like Ford and Vauxhall in the shade. This promise of trouble free motoring will be enough to tip the balance for many potential customers. Insurance ratings also look very reasonable, predicated upon a low cost of repair, a generally mature buyer profile and excellent safety provision.
Having driven many of the c'eed variants, it's the road test team's opinion that the 1.6-litre petrol remains one of the best buys. Usefully cheaper than the diesel versions and with a worthwhile amount of shove from the 124bhp engine, it's a very competitive package, especially at prices that will make rivals wince. This used to be about as far as the good news got with Korean cars but the c'eed breaks that mould - and how.
Pay this sort of money for a family hatch and you could reasonably expect it to be marginally sub-par right across the board. If it reached a class competitive level in any objective measure that would be a bonus. The c'eed not only trades blows on level terms with many of the big names but it hands down beats them in certain respects too. It's not perfect but it is just about the best value you'll get in this sector. Expect big things from Kia in the not too distant future.
The results below show the top CEED deals on buyacar
|Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi 3 5dr diesel sportswagon|
|Price £18,179||Save £2,916|
|Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi 3 EcoDynamics 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £17,290||Save £2,805|
|Kia Ceed 1.6 GDi 2 EcoDynamics 5dr hatchback|
|Price £14,713||Save £2,482|
|Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi 1 EcoDynamics 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £14,212||Save £2,083|
|Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi 2 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £11,655||Save £4,340|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT CEED DEALS|
|For CEE'D 1.6 RANGE|
|OVERALL||7.4 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||8|
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