Kia cee’d 1.6GDi: the downsizers dream

The Kia cee’d has been well and truly planted in the UK for some time now.

It’s a car that does pretty well what it says on the tin – it looks solid and well built, and it undoubtedly is.

But now, in its latest guise, it no longer wants to play the role of worthy but humble family five door hatchback.

Some of you might think it’s getting ideas above its station when you look at the £23,795 price tag hanging from the rear view mirror of this week’s test car. A definite move up market and out of the cheap and cheerful category and yes, it is a tidy sum to part with for a C class contender.

But worry not. because cee’d ownership can start at a more wallet friendly £14,395 (1.4 99hp six speed manual).

What this particular European designed model highlights is the fact you don’t have to scrimp on anything at this level of the motoring ladder. And I mean anything.

It’s a hatchback is full of Eastern promise, and you just can’t ignore the fact it comes with a full seven year warranty – a warranty so long that you’ll probably throw the keys to the car way before it runs out.

So anyone considering downsizing can still, as they say, have their cake and eat it with this version, the ‘4’ Tech specification with its 1.6 GDi 133bhp engine and six speed auto transmission.

As well as its body coloured bumpers, door mirrors and door handles, chrome window surrounds, rear privacy glass, LED daytime running lights, panoramic sunroof and smart 17 inch alloy wheels to set off the smart exterior, inside you’ll find black leather heated seats with contrast grey inserts, electric parking brake and black hi-gloss trimming, as well as the full gamut of safety equipment – ABS, vehicle stability management, emergency stop signalling, hill-start assist, lane departure warning system, speed sensing auto door locking. You name it, it’s in there somewhere.

The interior is super smart, with loads of room, and while in some cars you can find there are just too many buttons and switches and lights and they look a mess, the Kia has all that – but it somehow manages to look incredibly neat. Even the steering wheel, which is heated by the way, has more buttons than a big girl’s blouse yet isn’t that difficult to fathom out. You even get paddle shifts for the auto gearbox. Central in the dash is a seven inch touchscreen sat nav and it also comes with a  rear view camera and park sensors.

The driving position gives you plenty leg room and you don’t feel cramped at all behind the wheel. It’s comfortable and classy.

The 1.6 petrol unit here ambles along in a relaxed and smooth way, only sounding harsh when you hit the accelerator for some instant oomph and overall cee’d displays a really nice ride quality, soaking up the bumps well without crashing back though the bodywork or sending shudders back through the suspension. It sits very well on the road, displays a rail-like cornering ability and responds well to steering inputs. There’s no vagueness so you always feel in control of the front wheels. Kind of reassuring, that.

Designed in Europe, because if you want a car to appeal to Europeans the only place to put it together is in Europe, cee’d is built at a state-of-the-art factory in Slovakia. And the build quality is good.

It sells well because it has that user-friendly Euro hatchback look, with the sort of neat five door styling that makes it not a lot different to its main rivals, the Focus/Golf/308/Astra pack in the C sector.

Its wide track, long wheelbase and relatively tall roofline means here is plenty room aboard for five adults, and there’s a decent boot for luggage too.

And when you live in the UK, you’ll always be very appreciative of the puddle lights that shine down from the door mirrors and the little lights in the door handles that help you keep your brogues in tip-top condition

One of Kia’s goals is to be one of the world’s top three manufacturers for actual quality in the very near future. They’re definitely getting there.

FASTFACTS: Kia cee’d ‘4’ Tech; £23,795; 1.6GDi six speed DCT Auto (1591cc 4 cylinder 16v); 133bhp@6000rpm, 121lb/ft@4850; Top speed 121mph, 0-60mph 10.4secs; Fuel: urban 35.3, extra urban 57.6, combined 46.3 (53 litre tank); CO2: 140g/km; Insurance group 15; How big: 4310/1780/1470 (l/w/h); 7 year/100,000 mile warranty.


Wheelwrite 2012