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THE rise and rise of the Korean mo­tor in­dus­try has been one of the en­dur­ing in­dus­trial sto­ries of the last decade, right up there with Google, Ap­ple and Face­book and ev­ery bit as im­pres­sive.

From an em­bar­rass­ing bud­get brand base, mar­ques like Kia have in re­cent years been em­bar­rass­ing main­stream mak­ers with style and high tech­nol­ogy at sen­si­ble prices.

It was an evo­lu­tion that took less than ten years and one that all be­gan with one car - the cee’d fam­ily hatch­back, launched in 2007, but bet­ter es­tab­lished in the much smarter and more so­phis­ti­cated se­cond gen­er­a­tion guise we’re go­ing to look at here. there’s only so much you can do with a to­tal length that tends to be just un­der four and a half me­tres, into which you’ve got to slot five peo­ple, their gear, an en­gine and trans­mis­sion - and then en­sure it doesn’t look like an MPV.

In na­ture, this is known as ‘con­ver­gent evo­lu­tion’; where species evolve sep­a­rately but end up look­ing alike. That’s not to say that Kia has pro­duced a bland car. Quite the op­po­site.

In se­cond gen­er­a­tion form, the cee’d has a more con­tem­po­rary stance that’s both longer and lower than its pre­de­ces­sor, with the ris­ing belt­line giv­ing the five-door hatch­back a more ag­gres­sive, dy­namic wedge shape. sur­veys. Cus­tomers have noted that some of the in­te­rior fin­ishes can get scratched quite eas­ily and the al­loy wheels fit­ted to top mod­els are quite easy to kerb.

Other than that, it’s a clean bill of health. Kia’s bril­liant seven-year war­ranty ar­range­ment means that th­ese ve­hi­cles very rarely fall into pre­ma­ture ne­glect. Fo­cus, a Golf or some other con­tender in this class from a con­ven­tional main­stream brand with­out con­sid­er­ing its Korean al­ter­na­tive.

But th­ese will largely be un­in­formed folk yet to fully cot­ton on to the way that prod­ucts in this seg­ment have changed. Thanks to the suc­cess of this cee’d, there are fewer and fewer cus­tomers of this kind around.

Of course, short­list se­lec­tion isn’t the same as a sale.

There are fam­ily hatch folk who’ll want more pow­er­ful en­gines or more dy­namic han­dling than this car can of­fer.

But, we’d sug­gest, many more will en­joy this Kia’s sharp looks, im­pres­sive qual­ity, class-lead­ing practicality and low run­ning costs.

True, the ask­ing prices may be a lit­tle higher than you might ex­pect from a South Korean brand, but don’t judge them un­til you’ve tried the prod­uct, a con­fi­dent de­sign from a very con­fi­dent brand.

We think you might like it.

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