Kia Cee'd Sportswagon estate (2012-2018)
"The Kia Cee’d Sportswagon small estate car is a practical thing, coming with a seven-year warranty and an impressive amount of standard kit"
- Brilliant seven-year warranty
- High-quality interior
- Loads of boot space
- Rivals are better to drive
- Engines not the most powerful
- Some competitors will be cheaper to run
The Kia Cee'd Sportswagon, or SW for short, is one of several small estate cars based on family hatchbacks; it has plenty of talented rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf Estate, Ford Focus Estate and hugely practical Skoda Octavia Estate. And don't forget the Vauxhall Sports Tourer or SEAT Leon ST, either.
It'd be easy for a run-of-the-mill contender to be lost among these competitors. Luckily, there's nothing average about the Cee'd SW - it stands out thanks to generous standard kit, slick styling and Kia's seven-year/100,000-mile warranty - the latter unmatched by other manufacturers. The Cee'd is also keenly priced.
There are four engines to choose from: two petrols and two diesels, although the entry-level 1.4-litre petrol is best avoided. It's getting on a bit, technologically speaking, returns only 47mpg and takes around 12.6 seconds to get from 0-62mph. Fortunately, there's a much better option: the 1.0-litre petrol is a newer design, has more power (118bhp) thanks to a turbocharger, averages 54.3mpg and emits only 120g/km of CO2, which keeps company-car tax costs down.
If you cover above-average miles, you'll want to take a look at the diesels. The entry-level here is a 1.4-litre (89bhp, 67.3mpg and 109g/km of CO2), which sounds attractive but needs to be worked hard. The 1.6-litre is a more attractive option: its 134bhp gets the car from 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds, while it averages 72.4mpg and emits 102g/km of CO2. All Cee'd engines come with a manual gearbox as standard, but the more powerful diesel can also be had with a seven-speed automatic. You'll have to put up with 67.3mpg if you tick that box, though.
The Cee'd SW isn't the most exciting small estate to drive on a good road, but it has plenty of grip and is comfortable, while body movements are kept well in check. You get very little feedback through the steering wheel, though.
Inside, the dashboard has been thoughtfully laid-out, with all of the major controls within easy reach. The interior uses better materials than older Kias, but you'll still find some rather brittle plastics that are absent in, say, a Skoda Octavia. Having said that, everything is solid and build quality is good. There's enough headroom for front and rear occupants, while the 528-litre boot is larger than those of some rivals, although the Octavia Estate offers more luggage capacity.
Whichever trim level you go for, you get a healthy amount of kit, with even entry-level 1 boasting DAB radio, Bluetooth, air-conditioning and USB ports. The other trims - 2, 3, 4 and 4 Tech - give you goodies such as a seven-inch touchscreen with sat nav and reversing camera (from 3), leather upholstery (4 and above) and a panoramic glass sunroof (4 Tech). There's also a range-topping GT-Line grade, which has ice-cube-style front foglights, unique alloy wheels and a styling kit.
Kia's excellent warranty puts paid to any reliability worries, but it's good to know that the Cee'd finished fifth out of the 75 cars ranked in our 2017 Driver Power owner survey of cars currently on sale in the UK. The Cee'd SW should also prove safe, thanks to a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating.