"Spacious small estate that's well built and errs on the side of comfort, not sportiness."
The Kia Cee’d Sportswagon offers an interesting alternative to the Ford Focus estate, Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer or Volkswagen Golf estate. Interesting, not only due to the seven-year warranty, but because it offers marginally more space than its rivals, some impressive quality and a decent level of comfort, too. Don’t go thinking the Sportswagon lives up to its name, however – in spite of the fancy Flex Steer system, with its Sport, Comfort or Normal modes, this car is far from sporty. Being called Comfortwagon would be closer to the mark thanks to the laid-back nature of the two diesel engines (there's no real punch of acceleration to either of them) and the smooth ride. High equipment levels will pamper you, although Kias aren't cheap anymore – the Sportswagon is priced at almost the same level as its Ford, Vauxhall and VW rivals.
Kia may call its Cee’d estate Sportswagon, but it's far from sporty. The diesel engines may not be that quick, but the 1.6-litre diesel is smooth and pleasingly refined. You may well have to hunt for a lower gear from the easy-to-shift gearbox to give you extra power up hills, especially if the car is fully loaded with passengers and luggage, but that's not a major chore. Similarly, the steering is more relaxed than quick reacting, even if you select Sport mode from the three settings on offer from Kia's Flex Steer system – we’d just leave it in normal, to be honest. The ride errs on the side of comfort, too.
As with the Cee’d hatchback, there's plenty of space for adults in the front and back of the Sportswagon, with good leg and headroom all round. You’ll even get three adults abreast in the back, though they’ll be bumping shoulders if they’re very broad. There’ll be decent space for everyone's luggage in the back, too. The ride is firm doesn’t get too bumpy, either – it's settled over potholes and not so floaty as to make passengers feel sick. It's a good balance.
Kias are no longer just about the seven-year warranty, but it helps. Even without that extended cover, the cars would compete well in terms of quality. The Cee’d Sportswagon may not be a match for the latest VW Golf, but it is a match for the Ford Focus estate and Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer. The dashboard is stylish and easy to use, while the plastics on top of the dash and doors are good quality and appear hardwearing, especially if you go for the high spec ‘3’ models – the ‘1’ and ‘2’ versions are more basic inside. Kias also compete with rivals by including the latest electronic safety kit, too.
The Cee’d Sportswagon outstrips the Focus estate and Astra Sports Tourer on sheer space, although it's ever so slightly smaller than the old Cee’d SW. Hidden compartments add further practicality, but if you want to fold the rear seats forward, you have to pull up the seat bases first to get a flat loading bay. Still, the Cee’d scores on interior space and practicality, with plenty of room for passengers in the front and back, and lots of useful cubby holes dotted around. Plus, it shares the same massive 1,642 litre boot as the Hyundai i30 Tourer with the seats folded.
Value for money
The days when Kias were cheap cars are long gone. Today, they’re priced to compete with mainstream rivals Ford, Volkswagen and Vauxhall. Kia dealers have less money to haggle with, so you could end up paying more for a Kia than a VW. The balance is a strong level of equipment, from level 1 right up to top-spec level 4 Tech (via easy-to-remember 2, 3 and 4). Every model gets air-con, remote locking, plus Bluetooth and iPod connections. The ‘3’ also comes with a huge touchscreen sat-nav and media system as standard. Then, of course, there's Kia's famous seven-year warranty – if you plan to keep your car a while, it's a compelling proposition.
Both diesel Cee’d Sportswagons claim average fuel economy in the mid-sixties mpg, with sub 120g/km CO2 levels to keep road tax costs down. There's that seven-year warranty to make sure there are no unexpected bills along the way, while Kia dealers will try to sell you a service pack that will take care of routine servicing costs for a few years, too. In most cases, they’re worthwhile and will end up saving you money long term.