"The Kia Cee'd is a well-made, spacious family hatchback with a seven-year warranty but it lacks the dynamics of rivals like the Focus."
If you are not bowled over by the appeal of the seven-year warranty offered by the Cee’d or three-door Pro_cee’d, then you'll be impressed by the car's build quality and practicality. The driving experience isn't as good as the best European hatchbacks like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, but all Cee'ds have air-conditioning and plenty of safety equipment. A simple range offers four specifications, named 1, 2, 3, 4 and EcoDynamics. Either variant of the 1.6 CRDi diesel engine provides very low running costs, while EcoDynamics cars are the most environmentally friendly.
It can’t match class leaders like the Volkswagen Golf for driving fun, yet the Kia Cee’d has a solid feel that underlines the quality of its engineering. The steering, pedals and gearshift feel light and easy to use, but never flimsy. The only real issue is that the driving position lacks adjustment.
The Cee’d proves quiet and comfortable about town, smothering lumps and bumps well. On the motorway it begins to lose some of that comfort, letting in lots of wind and tyre noise. All the petrol and diesel engines are smooth, but while they are quiet at lower revs, they are a little noisy and strained when pushed. There's no lack of space though, front or back, with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room even for rear passengers. The three-door Pro_cee’d is equally roomy, and the wide-opening doors mean access to the back seats is reasonable.
The Cee’d has a five-star Euro NCAP adult occupant rating and four stars for child occupants which is average for a small family car. All cars get six airbags, Isofix child seat mountings, anti-lock brakes, and active head restraints to prevent whiplash - although electronic stability control is optional on all but the top-spec Cee’d 3 and 4. The upper dashboard is covered in soft-touch plastic and even the lower half is rubberised for better feel. Buyers needn’t worry about reliability, either - the Cee'd came 26th out of 100 for reliability in Driver Power 2010.
The Cee’d's 340-litre boot is average for a small family car, but it's still big enough to swallow a weekly shop or a child's buggy. However, the rear suspension encroaches into it and the floor is set deep, which creates a high load lip. In the cabin there's plenty of storage space, including a standard air-conditioned glove compartment and a box between the front seats.
Value for money
While the Cee’d undercuts the majority of its rivals like-for-like on list price, buyers are better served further up the range, because the Cee’d 1 feels slightly too basic - it has wind-up rear windows and a four-speaker stereo, for instance. The Cee’d 3 is very well equipped, though, with 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, black gloss interior trim, a Bluetooth phone connection and cruise control. Cee'd 4 models come with leather interior as standard.
The 1.6 CRDi diesel is available with 89bhp or 113bhp, and both versions offer over 60mpg. Although the diesel EcoDynamics version has start-stop to save fuel when the car is stationary, it's hardly any more fuel efficient in reality. The 1.4-litre petrol engine offers 48.9mpg compared to the 46.3mpg of the 1.6-litre, but both will cost notably more than the diesels in Road Tax. Whichever engine you choose, you’ll enjoy the Cee’d's low insurance costs, and, of course, the industry leading seven-year warranty.