PASTURES GREENER: Kia has given its cee’d family hatchback a mid-life nip and tuck, as well as some new eco-friendly tweaks. Jack Carfrae reports
It’s fair to say that the Korean car makers have had their finger on the button of late. Kia and Hyundai have enjoyed massive success in the UK since the introduction of the scrappage scheme, and their no-nonsense, quality-on-abudget approach is going down a storm with cash-strapped British motorists.
And the cee’d embodies that school of thought. Since its introduction in 2006, the family hatch has been consistently praised for its excellent value and top dynamics. Not content with that, Kia has now refreshed the styling and added a super frugal EcoDynamics 1.6 CRDi diesel version to the range. Inside, it’s a case of evolution rather than revolution. Anyone familiar with the previous cee’d will notice a series of subtle differences – most notably a tidier centre console that now has just one small screen containing all the relevant information at the top, as opposed to the three separate items that made the old cabin appear slightly cluttered. The lightly dished steering wheel is also a neater and sportier affair, with its twin silver spokes at the bottom and small, wheel-mounted stereo controls. The whole interior is clean and functional, but, with the exception of the plasticky indicator and wiper stalks, it’s not short on quality – the dash is robust and soft to the touch while the seats are firm but supportive. There’s bags of space in the cabin and the boot too, which can hold a worthy 340 litres of luggage with the seats upright and a whopping 1,300 when they’re folded down.
Fire up the 1.6-litre diesel unit and you’re met with a light clatter, but this disappears as the revs rise – the cee’d is quiet and silky on the move. The 89bhp powerplant is no ball of fire, but it’s smooth and pulls well from low revs. The gearbox complements the engine well, with its soft but precise change. The first few cogs feel slightly too close together though, and it’s easy to end up in third gear when you’re aiming for first. This model’s party trick is its eco friendliness. EcoDynamics models get an Intelligent Stop and Go (ISG) system – Kia’s name for stop/start technology, which, combined with low rolling resistance tyres and a sixth gear, reduces CO2 emissions from 119 to 110g/km and improves the fuel economy on the combined cycle from 62.8 to 67.3mpg.
But it’s the price and spec where the cee’d really earns its keep. At £14,195, the Kia undercuts the sector’s benchmark – the Ford Focus ECOnetic – by over £5,000. It’s hardly under specced either – buyers get the likes of MP3 connectivity, a Bluetooth hands-free system, front fog lamps, 16-inch alloy wheels, a six speaker sound system, Kia’s leather pack and plenty more.
The cee’d might not be the enthusiast’s choice, but at this price, with this level of kit and such low running costs, it makes an awful lot of sense and humbles more established rivals.
RIVALS: FORD FOCUS ECONETIC 1.6 TDCi, HYUNDAI i30 1.6 CRDi COMFORT ISG, VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BLUEMOTION 1.6 TDI
- Engine: 1582cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max power: 89bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max torque: 173lb ft at 1,750 to 2,500rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,400kg
- Max speed: 107mph
- 0-62mph: 13.5secs
- Combined consumption: 67.3mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 110g/km (B)
- Bootspace: 340/1,300litres
- Insurance group: 14
Exceptional value for money, tidy and quality interior, low running costs
Cheap feel to the wiper and indicator stalks, gearbox takes some getting used to