Earning a slice of Europe

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By Nick Jones

The mainstream market is what Kia are aiming for these days.

And with its neat little Cee’d, who could deny the Korean manufacturer a deserved slice of that all-important larger slice of the pie.

The Cee’d has always been a decent car but things have moved more upmarket in the latest model and shown the main protagonists (Ford, Vauxhall, Renault et al) that Kia is serious about getting its car where it needs to be in terms not only of price but also quality.

Yes, it was cheap when it first came out, but the materials reflected that and it wasn’t as well screwed together as one might have liked, but that has been redressed with this latest face-lifted model.

It has sharper looks, a more ‘efficient’ face, using the wide chrome-ringed grille and bonnet creases, plus some new LED lights at the back and subtle but effective bumper tweaks fore and aft making for an overall look that’s perhaps not stunning but is much improved.

The list of engines in the Cee’d is quite impressive, with a choice of 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol engines plus a 1.6-litre CRDi diesel.

The 1.4-litre petrol stirs 90 horses and gets comfortably to 110 miles per hour, with 0-60mph taking just a tad over 11 seconds. The 1.6-litre is quicker to 60mph by over a second, and hits 124 miles per hour.

Fuel returns are fine thanks to the latest technology, and the result is that both engines can achieve over 40mpg with emissions ranging from just 139g/km for the 1.4-litre entry-level model (and an annual road tax cost of just £110) to 146g/km, and again, a low VED of just £125 per year.

The 1.6-litre diesel is probably the one to opt for given choice and you can have either 89bhp or 113bhp. Naturally the latter is the swifter, hitting 120mph and with a 0-60mph time of 11 seconds. Both are really frugal and with emissions between 113-118g/km both benefit from a £0 charge for the first year on VED, £30 thereafter.

Internally is where Kia has really upped the ante, and very pleasing it is I have to say it’s never going to be VW-quality in here but I tell you what, it’s not far behind.

There’s a definite upmarket feel inside, like a genie has come out of a lamp and decorated everything from an expensive parts bin.

There’s plenty of room up front and in the rear, with four adults easily able to make a long distance trip no bother.

And there is room for their luggage too in the cavernous boot – good enough to swallow nearly 350 litres, over 1,300 if you drop the rear seats.

Kia has made the trim levels 1, 2 and 3 with standard kit comprising remote central locking, CD stereo, electric windows, air conditioning, airbags and a trip computer (plus a USB port), then the ‘2’ adds electric mirrors, 16in alloy wheels and leather trim, whilst ‘3’ gets sporty body kit and larger wheels, climate control and a stability management system which includes traction control and the like.

There is even an EcoDynamics version which features Stop and Go, restarting the engine when the clutch is depressed; that Cee’d uses the 89bhp 1.6-litre CRDi engine and returns nearly 68mpg.

So yes, Kia is in better shape now, and with prices starting at just £12,595 for the basic Cee’d 1 with the 1.4-litre petrol, things haven’t really climbed in the price stakes, certainly not when compared to how much higher Kia has raised the bar when compared with its rivals.