Sunday 21 January 2018

A car you can truly call grand

The new Kia Cee'd is about the most complete motor for the money; not so the new Seat Ibiza, writes Campbell Spray

AS a current radio ad makes clear, our use of language often tries hard to hide the truth. In that vein, I was considering two cars and my possible response to their marketing people. If asked about the new Seat Ibiza, I would shuffle a bit and announce: "Sure, it's grand." Yet over at Kia, when asked about the new Cee'd, the answer would be a forthright: "It's a grand car." And I would mean it.

Not for nothing did I recommend the previous version of the well-priced family hatchback, even to close colleagues whom I see every day. It's a view that I am pleased has been endorsed by the British Consumer Association, where the Cee'd has been voted the best medium-sized car in a survey of 39,000 owners for Which? magazine. Reliability, safety and its seven-year warranty were among the strong attributes that brought success for the Cee'd.

In fact, I reckon the latest model is about the most complete car for the money on the market. It has moved considerably in terms of technical expertise, comfort, quality, design, general appeal and pure driveability.

Now the Seat was another matter. It's a super-mini-sized car that has been loaded with spec so that its touches of leather, tinted rear windows and alloys make it look like a back-lane tart on a dinner date. The Spanish marque with its Volkswagen overlords is going after the younger, sportier set, but the Ibiza -- much like the island itself -- is a bit of a dog's dinner.

In the 1.2 Style version I was driving, it definitely isn't sporty and you have to take a long time to wind up the 70bhp petrol engine to a decent motorway cruising speed, which is just as well as it is noisy and very much out of its depth at 120km/h.

The height and comfort in the back aren't really big enough to cope with a couple of well-sized friends, although the luggage area is pretty good and when I folded everything down I was nearly able to get my bike in. Air conditioning is now in all the Ibiza range, excluding very basic start models at €13,800, so for €16,095 the high-specced 1.2 Style seems on paper a pretty good deal.

The marque's new brand director in Ireland, Adam Chamberlain, certainly thinks so. He proclaims: "The new Ibiza is a young, dynamic and innovative model and one that we feel will really appeal to young Irish motorists who value style and substance at an affordable price."

Unfortunately this mid-life makeover is so lacking in character and road feel that you wonder why you bothered.

The dog was also not impressed with wind-up rear windows; they play havoc with the claws. The Seat marque is going to be fairly pushy over the next year or so and has a good line-up of launches planned. I hope they are a bit more invigorated than the Ibiza and reviewers can say more than "sure, it's grand" before scuttling out the door.

But back to the second generation Cee'd and the 1.6D EX model at €23,295, which I was driving. The company makes much of the fact that the Korean car is designed, engineered and manufactured in Europe.

It was launched much the same time as the Ibiza but it rightly claims that it was a "paradigm shift" for the brand.

That the company has built on that success so well with the new model shows just how far Korean brands have come. The space throughout the car is especially well thought out. The whole package might be let down slightly by the power of the engine but it is better than the Golf.

It's still a silly name and really shouldn't have the capital C, which I give it. But it is a really grand car.

Indo Motoring

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