"The new Kia Cee’d competes strongly on space, style and quality – plus Kia's excellent warranty."
The Kia Cee’d is a comfortable family hatchback with bags of style, loads of space, a quality interior, and masses of equipment and accessories – all of which makes it a very compelling overall package. The diesels offer very impressive levels of economy, and while it may be designed for comfort over driving fun, the Cee'd is still a pleasure to drive and a great motorway cruiser. You can choose between a five-door hatchback with a huge boot, or the even more practical SW Sportswagon estate. In 2013, the range was further bolstered by the super-sleek three-door Pro_Cee’d hatchback and a more performance-focused Cee'd GT, featuring a 201bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine. A five-door Cee'd GT is due in 2014.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
None of the wide range of petrol and diesel engines on offer in the Cee’d are especially fast, but they are all fairly clean and eco-friendly. If you tend to clock up a lot of miles on a regular basis, we’d recommend going for the 1.6-litre CRDi Ecodynamics diesel, which manages to return an impressive 76mpg in combined fuel economy while emitting less than 100g/km of CO2 – making it free from road tax. The smaller 1.4 diesel doesn’t really offer any extra economy gains, and, given the only very slight price advantage, we’d suggest avoiding it. There's also an automatic option, too, but it only comes with the 1.6-litre engines. One thing you can be sure of is that when you buy a Cee’d, any unexpected repair bills will be easily kept in check by Kia's excellent pre-paid servicing plans and comprehensive seven-year warranty – just be aware that resale prices won’t be as strong as for a VW Golf or Audi A3.
Interior & comfort
In the age-old yin-and-yang mechanical trade-off, what the Kia lacks in driver enjoyment, it makes up for in its comfortable ride thanks to its suspension, which makes an easy job of ironing out the ruts and bumps in the UK's rough roads. Light steering and responsive controls also make town driving something of a breeze. The Kia's aerodynamic design means that wind, tyre and road noise barely penetrates the hushed interior. Five adults will fit comfortably inside, thanks to generous amounts of leg and headroom, while an array of storage cubbies will keep the interior litter and clutter free. There is also lots of seat and steering wheel adjustment to find an ideal driving position, and the large amount of glass makes the interior feel airy, it also makes visibility better than in the Hyundai i30.
Practicality & boot space
This is one of the areas where Kia and the Cee’d perform well, and if space is one of your main priorities when shopping about, then the Cee’d should definitely be on your list. It offers 380 litres of boot space, which is 64 litres more than you’d get in a Ford Focus and the same as in the new Volkswagen Golf. If you fold the standard-fit split-fold rear seats down flat, the boot expands to a much more flexible 1,318 litres of luggage capacity. There is also lots of room in the back seats, with the surprisingly roomy dimensions allowing for plenty of leg and headroom, with even enough space for a tall adult to sit behind a six-foot driver. There's plenty of adjustment in the seats and steering wheel, so finding a comfy position for longer drives is pretty straightforward, while the abundant storage cubbies and big door bins should help keep the interior free of clutter and rubbish.
Reliability & safety
In line with the brand's drive to improve quality, reliability and desirability, Kia's cars have consistently climbed up the rankings in customer satisfaction surveys. The first generation Cee’d came 12th in the 2012 Driver Power survey, but took a substantial tumble down the rankings to 83rd in the 2013 poll. Question marks remain over the Kia dealer experience, but all its cars – including the Cee’d – feel well-built and solid to drive. While this latest Cee’d is still too new to figure in the survey, Kia itself put in a solid performance by coming seventh out of 32 in the manufacturer rankings, with practicality, reliability, running costs and technology proving to be major strong points. Consider this and the industry-leading seven-year warranty, and you should feel nearly as confident as Kia itself does in its cars. The Cee’d is also a safe car, securing the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, thanks to a range of airbags and lots of smart technology. All cars come with electronic stability control (ESP), anti-lock brakes (ABS), hill-start assist and ISOFIX child-seat anchor points fitted as standard.
Engines, drive & performance
The Kia Cee'd has been developed to provide comfort more than driving thrills, so, if you're after speed and sporty handling, we'd suggest clicking through to the Ford Focus and Mazda 3. What you do get in the Cee’d is nicely light steering and soft suspension that proves very absorbent, so it's very calm on long drives and suitably zippy through busy urban streets. It is somewhat uninspiring on a winding back road, but higher-spec models have the option of a ‘Flex Steer’ system that gives the driver the choice of Sport, Comfort and Normal modes. However, even the Sport setting still feels a little lifeless and artificially heavy. The engine range is geared towards economy, too, with the economical 1.6-litre diesel returning more than 76mpg in combined fuel economy. However, if you really do value an enjoyable drive, we’d suggest looking at the Volkswagen Golf, which manages to mix performance, comfort and economy in a way that most other cars simply don’t manage to pull off.
Price, value for money & options
While it's true that Kias are no longer the bargain kings of the road – that honour now goes to budget brand Dacia – the latest Cee’d is still a little cheaper (but not much) than its more established competitors. But when you consider the excellent equipment levels and the industry-leading seven-year warranty, then it becomes clear that Kia still knows how to give you truly great value for money. And even though you’re unlikely to get the kind of dealer discounts you can on a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra, even the base-spec 1 model comes fitted with body-coloured bumpers and front fog lights as standard. Mid-range 2 and 3 specs also add 16-inch alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights, while top-of-the-range 4 and 4 Tech models get leather seats and keyless entry. If you also factor in the Kia's rock-bottom running costs, you’ve got one of the best value family cars that money can buy.