The Kia Cee’d Sportswagon is, in spite of its athletic name, a mid-sized family estate car that competes with the good-to-drive Ford Focus Estate and class-leading Skoda Octavia Estate. Kia isn’t alone in trying to evoke an exciting lifestyle with the Cee’d Sportswagon's name: the SEAT Leon ST and Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer are similarly sized, similarly priced and similarly sensible estate cars.
With rivals as numerous and competent as this, the Cee’d Sportswagon (known as SW for short) stands out thanks to its handsome looks and generous standard equipment. The real highlight of Kia Cee’d SW ownership, though, is the brand's unparalleled seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. The Sportswagon manages to undercut most of its rivals on price, too.
The available engines also appeal to the head rather than the heart. Kia offers two petrols and two diesels. The cheapest is the 98bhp 1.4-litre petrol, which returns a reasonable (if not astounding) 42.8mpg and emits 138g/km of CO2, for an annual road-tax bill of £130. The better petrol choice is actually the smaller (though turbocharged) 118bhp 1.0-litre petrol, which manages 54.3mpg and costs just £30 a year to tax.
The entry-level diesel is an 89bhp 1.4-litre, which returns 67.3mpg and costs just £20 a year in road tax. The 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel doesn’t have to be worked as hard and is more economical as a result. Managing 72.4mpg, this is the most economical engine in the Cee’d Sportswagon range, while CO2 emissions of just 102g/km mean you’ll still only pay £20 a year in road tax.
Whichever engine you choose, performance is reasonable rather than exciting. The 1.6-litre diesel is quickest, taking 10.7 seconds to go from 0-62mph, while the 1.4-litre diesel is slowest, with a 0-62mph time of 13.4 seconds. The 1.4-litre petrol isn’t much faster, though, and needs to be worked hard in order to make progress.
While performance like this is unlikely to set pulses racing, the Cee’d SW offers a comfortable driving experience. Its soft suspension does a good job of minimising body lean in corners, while isolating you from poor road surfaces.
Inside, the Cee’d Sportswagon has a well designed dashboard, which represents a great improvement over those of previous Kias. It's by no means radical or particularly eye-catching and the Skoda Octavia Estate's interior is built of nicer-quality plastics, but everything works intuitively and feels built to last. Front and rear-seat passengers get plenty of leg and headroom, while the 528-litre boot is larger than most estates of this class, only being beaten by the aforementioned Octavia Estate.
Kia is also generous with the amount of standard equipment it fits, as all Cee’d SWs come with DAB radio, air-conditioning, front electric windows, remote central locking and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Kia's trim naming strategy used to be fairly straightforward: you could choose levels 1, 2, 3 or 4, paying more money and receiving more kit as you went up the range.
While these models still exist, Kia also offers the Cee’d Sportswagon in SR7, GT-Line and 4 Tech trims. SR7 is the cheapest option and is only available with the 1.4-litre petrol engine. Unlike the slightly more expensive Sportswagon 1 (which is only available with the 1.4-litre diesel), SR7 includes alloy wheels and rear parking sensors. GT-Line sits just below the Sportswagon 3 and adds a subtle bodykit, while the top-spec model is now the Sportswagon 4 Tech. We recommend 3 or GT-Line trim, as these include sat nav and other useful features, without pushing the Cee’d SWs price up too high.
Reliability should be a simpler affair: while the Cee’d Sportswagon comes with Kia's seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, it's unlikely you’ll need to make use of this: the Cee’d hatchback, on which the Sportswagon is based, came 34th out of 150 cars in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, with good scores for reliability, build quality and in-car technology. Safety is similarly reassuring, thanks to the Cee’d hatchback's five-star rating from Euro NCAP.