BUY A NEW Kia Cee’d (it’s pronounced “seed”) and you will have no repair bills to pay until 2014. If you sell it before then, you can transfer the warranty, which will add to the car’s retained value. The only things you will have to worry about will be having it serviced at the correct intervals — and laughing off that silly name. Kia says it stands for “Community European Economic European Design”, with the third E omitted. No kidding.
The other warranty limitation, apart from the reasonable demand that the car must be serviced correctly, is that the mileage is covered up to 100,000; after that, you’re on your own — and with a car as pleasant to drive and as economical to run as this, you might well be tempted to run up more than the permitted 14,300 miles a year!
Our test car was powered by the 1.6litre diesel engine, which was not too happy to pull at low revs, but quiet and smooth when the gears were used to keep it revving well. It took a very reasonable 20.1 seconds to accelerate through the gears from rest to 80 mph, and it also proved exceptionally economical on fuel, returning 54.6 mpg.
Two versions of the engine are available, one giving 90 bhp and the other 115 bhp, and they have the same economy and CO output (impressively low at 125 g/km, putting it in band C for annual tax at £115), so I’d go for the more powerful one. Extra cost is £250, taking the price of the 1.6 CRDi with LS trim to £14,545. The range starts with the 1.4-litre petrol model with S trim at £10,995.
The tow hitch fitted to the test car had a permissible weight limit of a generous 1,400 kg, so I coupled up my Avondale Rialto caravan and was impressed at how well the Cee’d coped. Naturally the engine has to work much harder in this role, but still returned a very reasonable 29.0 mpg.
Cee’d is easy to drive, with good controls, an especially light five-speed gear change and accurate steering. The brakes are discs front and rear, and the handbrake is nice and close to the driving seat. The only slight awkwardness is having the indicator control on the right and the wiper switch on the left — a more convenient layout for a right-hand-drive car, but you do have to adapt to it.
The downside of the Cee’d is the suspension — rather bouncy on any but the smoothest surfaces, with a lot of wheel thump and tyre roar. The plus side of fairly firm suspension is the precise handling on corners, which goes with the good directional stability to make the Cee’d a reassuring car to drive.
Seats are comfortable and on the LS version their outer parts are leather, with tough fabric centres. Many clever details are included in LS, such as goodsized door pockets and front compartment, a container for sunglasses, and a light round the ignition keyhole to help you find it at night. Front fog lamps are standard.
Huge screen pillars and a triangular mounting for the door mirrors make a fairly large block to corner visibility, but forward view is good, with the wipers neatly at the base of the windscreen. A ratchet lever gives height adjustment for the driving seat.
An impressive audio unit with CD slot is standard, but the two-tier centre compartment beneath the armrest is just a bit too small to store CDs. Plug-in points are provided for USB and iPod.
The rear hatch has a concealed electric release, secured with the remote central locking and opening to reveal a spacious load area. A space-saver spare wheel nestles beneath the floor. The rear seat is divided 40/60, with the backrests folding down easily on to the cushions, or the cushions can be tipped forward first, for a level extension of the load platform.
Kia is soon to add a 2-litre diesel and an estate to the range and it expects to sell 10,000 Cee’ds in a full year. They are so good value, we will soon be seeing them everywhere.
Sure to grow popular: Kia Cee’d, with a choice of three engines and three trims — and a tempting warranty