The Kia Cee’d is a highly competent all-rounder that has an impressive interior environment, lots of space, is capable of 74.3mpg, and is cheaper than its rivals.
When the first Cee’d was unveiled in 2006 it heralded the arrival of Kia as a genuine mainstream competitor. For the first time Kia showed that it could build a car that competed with the Europeans in terms of material quality and design whilst maintaining a lower list price. As a result the second-generation model has a lot to live up to.
Kia has correctly identified some of the key characteristics that makes the Cee’d a success and has wisely stuck to them. Just like the original, the latest model has been designed, developed and built in Europe and retains the expensive fully independent rear suspension that sets it apart from the bunch.
A big effort has been made to increase refinement further with more sound deadening and thicker glass providing an impressively hushed interior. The sense of quality is further bolstered by the liberal application of soft touch materials on the dashboard. The design and materials of the interior makes the Cee’d a pleasant place to be. Switches have a quality feel and even the steering wheel feels good, and it comes with lots of useful controls for features such as the stereo and cruise control. There’s also lots of storage space, and the interior and boot are both amongst the largest in class – at 380 litres, the boot is larger than that of a Golf.
The exterior shows progress over the previous model, even though it’s still slightly anonymous and certain elements seem somewhat similar to other cars in its class; the rear three-quarters in particular is very Astra or SEAT Leon-like. We’d say that the Cee’d looks better than its sister car, the Hyundai i30 .
The 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine’s torque output is bang on class standard producing 191 lb. ft. between 1,900 and 2,750 rpm. The power output is even better with 126 bhp at 4,000 rpm putting it ahead of key rivals. This gives the Cee’d a better turn of speed than the competition whilst the standard ISG engine stop/start system keeps urban fuel consumption in check.
There really is nothing wrong with the driving experience of the Kia Cee’d. Every area has been worked on to make it an equal to its European rivals: steering, braking, gear change, ride, handling, performance, economy – they’re all good. Competitors such as the Ford Focus may have a slight dynamic edge but overall the Cee’d is very competent, and, importantly for many potential buyers, it’s a comfortable car. The diesel engine can sound a little gruff at low speed , but at higher speeds the Cee’d is a refined package.
The Cee’d ‘2’ 1.6 CRDi has a combined fuel economy figure of 74.3mpg , and emissions of 100g/km CO2. The Intelligent Stop and Go (ISG) system helps with keeping the emissions low. No, we didn’t achieve 74.3mpg on test, but we did average 55.4mpg – which is better than many other rivals. Sit on a motorway between 60 and 70mph and there’s a good chance that you’ll see 60mpg. The most economical model is the Cee’d ‘1’ 1.6 CRDi, which, with 15-inch wheels rather than the 16-inch items fitted to our ‘2’ test car, emits 97g/km CO2 and returns 76.3mpg. Just one word of warning – specify the automatic transmission with the 1.6-litre CRDi engine and the emissions shoot up to 145g/km CO2.
The Kia Cee’d ‘2’ 1.6 CRDi costs £18,295. The only option on our test car was metallic paint, at £445. In total there are five trim levels: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 4 Tech. All models get air conditioning, front electric windows, central locking, an iPod-compatible CD stereo and Bluetooth connectivity. There’s a choice of 1.4 or 1.6-litre petrol engines, or 1.4 or 1.6-litre diesels. There’s also the choice of a 6-speed manual, a 6-speed auto, or a new DCT double-clutch gearbox. For the range as a whole, prices start at £14,395 and rise to £23,795. The Cee’d comes with an impressive seven-year/100,000-mile transferable warranty.
The Kia Cee’d continues to offer excellent material and build quality with great fuel economy and good performance. It’s not bad looking and is practical too, with good interior and boot space on offer. If you’re after an efficient family hatch the Cee’d ticks a lot of boxes. The seven-year warranty is a big bonus and the keen pricing is the icing on the cake.
In fact, we’d take the Cee’d over the new Golf S 1.6 TDI. The Kia has a more attractive interior environment, with much more equipment, a more interesting exterior design, more space, a driving experience that is as good as the Golf if not better, and the Kia is £1270 cheaper: £18,295 compared to £19,565 for the Golf. However most people will go for the Golf, because it’s a Volkswagen Golf and it’s not a Kia Cee’d. These people may gain a Volkswagen badge on their drive, but they’re missing out on the better buy. To get round this issue, Kia should target the fleet market, where fleet managers rather than private buyers make the decision to buy a Kia.
Kia needs to keep producing cars as good as the Cee’d, and it needs to keep improving the image of its brand. Perhaps it also needs to consider changing the name ‘Cee’d’, which many people seem to find a bit strange. However we’ve always judged the cars not the badges; the Kia Cee’d gets a Green-Car-Guide rating of 9 out of 10.