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.