REVIEW DATE: 27 Nov 2009
Kia is doing its bit for the planet with the cee'd EcoDynamics. Steve Walker reports.
More people than ever are buying environmentally-friendly cars. Good, you might think, but is it because we're all intent on saving the planet or is it because within today's legislative framework, a 'green' car is also a cheap one to run? In the end, it doesn't matter too much but an eco model that wasn't necessarily cheaper to run might reveal our true motives and intentionally or not, Kia may just have created one. It's the cee'd EcoDynamics.
It doesn't really matter why we buy more fuel efficient cars, as long as the levels of fossil fuels we burn and harmful emissions we produce go down. If, however, low costs are your number one priority, it pays to tread carefully when chasing the latest headline-grabbing economy figure.
It's the same across the eco-models offered by most manufacturers. A series of modifications are made that improve efficiency but you pay more to get them. If this price hike over a standard model is too large or the efficiency gains too small, you may find yourself needing to drive to the moon and back in order to recoup the extra outlay in fuel savings. So does the cee'd EcoDynamics stack up on the balance sheet?
Typical Kia cee'd EcoDynamics buyers won't be adopting a bat out of hell driving style but will, presumably, still want a car that shifts with some eagerness. It's the lower powered version of the cee'd's 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine powers the EcoDynamics model. It has 89bhp and 235Nm of torque between 1,750 and 2,500rpm, which makes for decent pull from low speeds. The 0-60mph sprint of 13.5s and 107mph top speed put it at the lower end of the family hatchback performance scale but it's not going to cause much complaint in urban driving or on the motorway. The engine is matched to a six-speed gearbox, designed to be lightweight in order to boost economy.
"Kia has booked its seat on the environmentally-friendly bandwagon"
It's in built-up areas that the cee'd EcoDynamics will make the most sense. It's fitted with Kia's ISG Intelligent Stop and Go system that cuts the engine when you come to a standstill to save fuel. Competent in the way it brakes, steers and stops, the cee'd offers decent visibility and isn't quite as bulky as some cars in its class, so parking will be that bit easier.
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.
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.
The cee'd EcoDynamics is available exclusively in the cee'd '2' trim level. There are no glaring omissions in an equipment list that features air-conditioning, 16" alloy wheels, an MP3 compatible CD stereo with AUX inputs, electric heated mirrors and electronic front windows. Six airbags are fitted as well but ESP stability control is confined to the options list. The EcoDynamics package is also available in all of the cee'd bodystyles, so buyers can choose the three-door pro_cee;d, the five-door cee'd or the cee'd SW estate.
The cee'd EcoDynamics is priced at the same level as the 1.6 CRDi cee'd 2 which uses the same engine but with its power upped to 113bhp. If you want the 89bhp version of the 1.6 CRDi unit in a non-EcoDynamics cee'd, you can pay £1,300 less and have it in lower spec cee'd '1' trim. Overall, pricing looks competitive against other family hatchbacks but within the context of the cee'd diesel range, it's easy to see buyers being tempted away from the cee'd EcoDynamics by the cheaper or more powerful alternatives.
With its ISG stop/start technology and low rolling resistance tyres, the cee'd EcoDynamics isn't modified as comprehensively as some of the eco-special family hatchbacks out on the market but that doesn't stop it returning 67.3mpg on the combined cycle and emissions of 110g/km. This is a respectable if not class-leading performance.
The real problem for the cee'd EcoDynamics, however, is that the standard 89bhp 1.6-litre CRDi cee'd returns 65.7mpg and 113g/km while the more powerful 113bhp engine turns in 62.8mpg and 118g/km. There's very little to choose between these engine options in terms of economy, emissions and, ultimately, running costs, so will customers be willing to pay more or forgo some extra performance for the EcoDynamics model?
Where the cee'd EcoDynamics may swing an advantage is in town where Kia claims its ISG system has the potential to cut fuel consumption by 15%. It also cuts noise levels by stopping the engine when you're stationary, so choosing to go with EcoDynamics could be seen as an environmentally and public spirited choice, if not a particularly cost-effective one.
Kia has booked its seat on the environmentally-friendly bandwagon with the cee'd EcoDynamics. Adding the ISG stop/start technology and economy tyres to the already economical 1.6-litre CRDi cee'd has upped its game in terms of efficiency and running costs. In general, the cee'd package looks stronger than ever and a genuine alternative to the class leaders.
The question is whether this greener cee'd brings big enough advantages over the standard cars in the range for buyers to choose it. The cost savings it offers aren't huge so it may only be financially beneficial for drivers in urban areas where the stop/start system can really do its thing. Of course, if your primary motive is reducing your carbon footprint, this is the Kia cee'd to go for.
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