Kia Cee'd Sportswagon estate

£16,750 - £25,495

This car might be called the Kia Cee’d Sportwagon but this stretched, load-carrying version of the Cee’d hatchback is an estate, pure and simple. Admittedly, it looks quite sporty thanks to its rising waistline, soft curves and, on all models from trim level 2 upwards, alloy wheels and LED running lights, but it certainly doesn’t feel it.

Instead, it's a comfortable car with relaxed performance, a generally smooth ride, light steering and a good level of equipment. It also has a long, industry-leading seven-year warranty, which should make you feel even more content.

Importantly for an estate, it's also surprisingly roomy. The back seats are a little difficult to fold but once tucked away the boot boasts 1,642 litres of loadspace – almost as much as a Skoda Octavia estate, a model praised for its cavernous interior.

Talking of the Octavia, the Cee’d Sportwagon, or Kia Cee’d SW as it's also known, faces some other very tough competitors including the recently refreshed Ford Focus estate, the very capable Volkswagen Golf estate, the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer (another estate that would rather be called something else) and fellow Korean, the Hyundai 130 Tourer (again, read ‘estate’).

Our recommendation is the 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel. It is only marginally more expensive to run than the 1.4-litre diesel, and is available in all trims, while the 1.4-litre diesel appears in the entry-level ‘1’ trim only.

Stylish on the outside, and stylish on the inside, too. With the exception of the basic level 1 model, the Sportwagon's cabin is smart, of reasonable though not Volkswagen quality, and thoughtfully designed. The dashboard is clear and straightforward with mid-spec models and above benefiting from an easy-to-use sat-nav. There's plenty of space in the front, and room enough for even tall passengers in the back.

Our favourite trim is the ‘3’, which comes with some ‘big car’ features, such as sat-nav, rear parking camera and Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming.

The Cee’d Sportwagon's small diesel engines are reasonably economical with the 1.6-litre returning 70.6mpg and costing just £20 to tax. That should please both private buyers and company car drivers (regarding the latter, the model's good specification means they will have no need to buy options, so incurring no additional benefit-in-kind tax).

Prices are higher than you might expect, being broadly on a par with rival models from Ford and Vauxhall. Fortunately, resale values are at last improving as used car buyers wake up to Kia's much-improved model line-up, impressive customer satisfaction record and that reassuringly long warranty.