Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - BOOKS -

Ihave a habit of choos­ing the ‘kilo­me­tres to empty tank’ op­tion as the main vis­ual piece of in­for­ma­tion on a car while I’m driv­ing. I like to know what’s left in the tank. Truth to tell, I’m a bit fix­ated by it. I’ve no doubt it is as a re­sult of be­ing so fre­quently stranded in my younger days when cars had no­to­ri­ously in­ac­cu­rate fuel gauges and I was ridicu­lously op­ti­mistic that ‘E’ still sig­nalled ‘enough’.

No sur­prise then that the ‘kms to empty’ fig­ure was the first I checked when I picked up the lat­est Kia Ceed small-fam­ily hatch — a car whose re­cent pre­de­ces­sor I’ve reg­u­larly rec­om­mended new and sec­ond­hand.

The es­ti­ma­tion shown was that I should be in a po­si­tion to travel just short of 1,000kms on my tank­ful. Now that is a se­ri­ous fig­ure for a car of this size — es­pe­cially at a time when diesel gen­er­ally is be­ing ham­mered heav­ily and, of­ten, un­fairly.

Was 1,000km too op­ti­mistic? We will see, but it sure put the fo­cus on the over­hauled 1.6-litre diesel en­gine. Fur­ther­more I needed to drive as I nor­mally do so as not to dis­tort the con­sump­tion.

Of course the Ceed is not all about diesel or MPG, by any means. There were tech­ni­cal, crea­ture-com­fort, safety and price con­sid­er­a­tions to be take into ac­count, too.

And let’s not for­get, the Ceed range ac­com­mo­dates lower-mileage driv­ers with a 1-litre petrol and those who like a bit of zip with a 1.4-litre petrol.

But for many with longer com­mutes, could a diesel such as this 1.6-litre make a ma­jor dif­fer­ence to fuel bills?

I liked the old cee’d a lot (the apos­tro­phe has been dropped for the new model — it’s Ceed). This one is, of course, bet­ter in many ways — higher spec, nicer dé­cor, lay­out, han­dling/ ride (I’ll come back to that) and so on. Yet it says a lot for the out­go­ing motor that the new gen­er­a­tion doesn’t to­tally wipe it.

That said, the new all-round in­de­pen­dent

■ Kia Ceed 5dr small-fam­ily hatch,1.6litre diesel (115bhp, €180 tax, 3.8/4litres/100km).

■ Stan­dard spec in­cludes: 16ins al­loys, 7ins LCD dis­play, re­vers­ing cam­era, An­droid Auto/Ap­ple CarPlay, cruise con­trol, for­ward col­li­sion/lane keep/high­beam as­sist, driver at­ten­tion warn­ing, Ve­hi­cle Sta­bil­ity Man­age­ment sys­tem, voice recog­ni­tion. K3 spec (on test) also had LED front/rear lights, cloth/ar­ti­fi­cial leather seats, wire­less phone charger, elec­tric win­dows, park­ing sen­sors.

■ Prices from €22,695 (1-litre petrol), €24,995 (1.6 diesel).

■ K3 diesel on test: €26,595.

sus­pen­sion sys­tem made a big dif­fer­ence to how the car felt, drove and han­dled (it was solid at all times thanks to its new un­der­pin­nings) while a glance at the stan­dard spec list un­der­lines how ex­ten­sive a range of equip­ment they have com­piled now.

I was grate­ful too for the sig­nif­i­cantly en­hanced di­men­sions of the boot, while one of the taller cousins pro­fessed him­self quite happy with the room in the back seat — space over­all is a nice bonus. I had no quib­ble with road or tyre noise ei­ther.

But irony of ironies, the one item that let it down most was the one that also made its claim to MPG fame — yes, the en­gine.

It has had quite a go­ing-over to meet new reg­u­la­tory stan­dards and emis­sions tests (the lat­ter, called WLTP, is a more re­al­is­tic trial of what a car con­sumes and emits).

But its noise sup­pres­sion was poor long af­ter startup and ev­ery time I used the clutch. I was dis­ap­pointed.

I also thought the in­ter­vals be­tween gears was poor; fifth was too high for speeds at which I would nor­mally choose that gear. I no­ticed that es­pe­cially in my shorter jour­neys, of which there was a rea­son­able pro­por­tion.

In the new car’s favour, how­ever, was a smart in­te­rior with an easy-to-use 7ins LCD in­ter­face, ex­cel­lent seats, loads of el­bow room, plenty of stowage and good vis­i­bil­ity. In short: every­thing we have come to ex­pect from a mod­ern small-fam­ily hatch­back. Add in the fa­mous seven-year war­ranty, those good spec lev­els, de­cent pric­ing etc make a strong case.

Which brings us back to where we started: could it do 1,000kms on one tank and show long-drive com­muters how eco­nom­i­cal it can be? Well, here’s a rough run through of my mileage over a rel­a­tively quiet week:

Mon­day, 40km, tip­ping around Dublin sub­ur­bia; Tues­day, not a budge; Wed­nes­day, 260km, mix of slow and mo­tor­way to the mid­lands; Thurs­day, 90 grind­ing kms around the city and to the air­port; Fri­day, noth­ing; Satur­day, 250km trip to home town and sur­rounds to mark a bit­ter-sweet 50th an­niver­sary; Sun­day, 90km short trip and air­port; Mon­day, 15km be­fore leav­ing back. To­tal: 745kms. And there were still a com­puter-es­ti­mated 170kms left in the tank. Which by my cal­cu­la­tions gave a driven-and-po­ten­tial-to­tal of 915kms (roughly 4.5l/100kms).

I didn’t drive easy; some was bru­tal city-lock. If I were a bit softer on the ac­cel­er­a­tion and brakes I’d pos­si­bly have nudged 950kms. But I still think 915km was quite im­pres­sive for my ‘real world’ driv­ing.

So would I buy it if in the mar­ket for a small-fam­ily diesel? Not for the quite noisy en­gine (and for be­ing a bit dull over­all — the dark-colour test car was no help).

But yes, I would for the com­fort, space, price, spec, seven-year war­ranty — and, for sure, the 915kms I’d get on one tank.

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