Cee'ds of change are sown with much-improved car
The refreshed Kia cee'd promises better quality and efficient engines, writes Geraldine Herbert
If the development of a company can be charted by the course of one car, then the cee'd is that car for Kia. Since it launched in 2006 it marked a turning point for the Korean car maker and was the first of a new generation of cars designed with European buyers in mind. Compared to previous Kia offerings, the cee'd was a huge step forward - and they went on to sell more than one million of them.
While the original cee'd was always a decent, if somewhat uninvolving, car to drive, the arrival of the second generation in 2012 was a significant improvement. During this time, Kia won new fans and wowed young buyers with the urban chic looks of the Soul, families with the Sorento and Sportage, executives with the Optima, and all were reassured with the seven-year warranty that was introduced in 2010.
The second generation cee'd has been refreshed and, while you have to look twice to spot the exterior changes, it has a more imposing road presence - but is still all very familiar, with Kia's signature 'tiger-nose' grille, along with wrap-around headlamps and integrated fog lamps. Also new for 2015, upgraded models now come with a new GT Line that is available on two of the three cee'd body types - five-door cee'd and three-door pro_cee'd - and promises the sporty looks and dynamics of the GT models with the versatility of the conventional cee'd model family.
A new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is also available, and stylish new 16- and 17-inch alloy wheel designs are available across the range. It's under the bonnet, however, where the real changes have been made - and our test car was powered by a new three-cylinder petrol engine that produces 120ps and 172Nm torque. According to Kia, it will return 4.9l/100km (60mpg) and C02 emissions are just 109g/km.
On the road, the cee'd is much improved and the suspension soaks up bumps and potholes nicely. It handles and corners really well and, while it's still not quite as sharp as perhaps Ford's Focus, the level of refinement and smoothness is as good as any rival. The engine is much punchier than the official figures suggest and has none of the droning whine we have come to expect from these turbo-charged, tiny petrol engines. Prices for the 1-litre petrol turbo start at €20,650, and our GT press car comes in at €22.550.
The hatch-back market is one of the most competitive but the new Kia cee'd looks smarter than before, drives well and the addition of a 1.0 petrol engine option is a very timely one. Kia has thrown down the gauntlet to its rivals.