Tuesday 11 December 2018

Ceed of a good idea from Kia

Brand is eager to market its latest model change as a car for Europe made in Europe, writes Martin Brennan

LOSING THE APOSTROPHE: The new Kia Ceed comes complete with a different spelling
LOSING THE APOSTROPHE: The new Kia Ceed comes complete with a different spelling

Kia is so keen to impress with its latest arrival that the marketing people have decided even the spelling is new. Hence the cee'd is now Ceed. They say the name change consolidates its reputation as a car for the Community of Europe, with European Design. Get it? CEED.

The company is so obsessed with the European origins of the Ceed, the press release reminds us that the car is designed, developed, engineered and built in Europe. Not a mention of Korea, the birthplace of the Kia brand.

The target is to build up sales in the EU as we are reminded that Zilina, Slovakia, where 640,00 of the cee'd's second-generation models were built to a high standard, will continue to be the place of assembly. And there are several footnotes to impress on us that the new model has been designed, developed and engineered in Frankfurt, Germany, by Kia's European R&D design teams. The big-selling Sportage and Venga models are also built at Zilina, we are reminded.

If this isn't playing to the gallery, I don't know what is. And why not? 'Buy quality European' is not a bad marketing ploy as we lurch towards a possible global trade war.

The model that arrives in August is expected to account for an even greater proportion of Kia's European sales. The cee'd has been a major contributor to more than doubling Kia sales since its introduction and the company hopes it will help push sales over the half million mark this year.

More than 1.3m cee'd models have been manufactured in Europe since the factory opened in 2006. The new model has been designed and engineered for European buyers and will also be sold in Russia. Emilio Herrera, chief operating officer for Kia Motors Europe, boasts a 3pc market share in just 10 years in a competitive market where German and French giants dominate.

Kia has close to a 7pc market share here with new small crossover the Stonic selling well. The old cee'd has been its player in the shrinking small family car segment and will face strong competition from the VW Golf, Opel Astra and new Ford Focus which will hit the showrooms at the same time as the new Ceed. The company forecasts 1,000 Ceed sales next year.

The third-generation model is longer and wider with sharper lines for a more sporty look. Inside, the trim has been upgraded with a lower driving position giving more headroom and the 395l boot is bigger than in a Golf.

Cabin noise has been reduced for a more relaxed drive and extensive use of high-strength steel increases body stiffness by 30pc while reducing weight by 23 kilos.

Improvements have been made to the steering and suspension, there is a new multi-link rear axle and spring stiffness up-front has been increased by 40pc.

The result is more direct steering, less body roll, all in all a more exciting driving experience. There will be GT line and performance versions in the future.

As well as the five-door hatchback, there will be a Ceed wagon with 625l of luggage space which beats the Skoda Octavia Combi at 610l. The wagon version gains 25cm in length over the existing model and later there will be a shooting brake to add more style for more upmarket drivers.

Important news from Kia is that "electrification" will be part of all future models. The Ceed will get a mild hybrid pack to cut down on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. So expect hybrid, EV, and plug-in EV versions across the model range, although the company is not turning its back on internal combustion engines.

Prices start at €22,695 and there are four trim levels with the price rising to €28,595 for the top specification. Petrol engines will account for 70pc of sales and there is a choice of a 1l turbo with 120bhp and there is a new 1.4 petrol 138bhp which replaces the old 1.6l version.

This gives a lively performance, and for the long-distance drivers there is a more economical new 1.6l diesel with 115/136bhp output. Transmission is through a 6-speed manual box and there is an excellent 7-speed automatic box available with the 1.4 petrol and the diesel engines.

Standard specification includes forward collision assist, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning and a vehicle stability assist. Level 2 gets 16" alloy wheels, reversing camera, 7" display and Bluetooth voice recognition while level 3 adds LED lights , wireless phone charger, parking sensors and electric parking brake.

Also available is smart key entry parking distance warning, blind spot and parking distance warning, rain sensing wipers and leather seats.

Sunday Independent

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