Spare room in the new KIA estate - how Ceed SW puts boot into rivals
I was counting my blessings in not having to review a crossover or SUV this week until I realised I'd have to mention them anyway. That's because the current review car is an estate and, sadly, is one more prone than most to being subsumed by the rising swell of SUVs and their ilk.
I'll come clean. I liked the KIA Sport Wagon (estate) from the first minute I sat into it - especially with that smart little 1-litre petrol engine under the bonnet.
But I always have to keep myself in check in case I'm being too old-fashioned in seeing the benefits of what is an exceptionally roomy family car to the exclusion of crossovers which are so popular and versatile in their way too.
Not only is the SW roomy, it has a 600-litre boot (up 72 litres on the old one) which would put much larger motors - crossovers included - to shame.
Part of me says that's what an estate should be all about; the ability to absorb vast quantities of accoutrements and still leave loads of room for four to five people. I have no doubt the Ceed SW does that with some ease; certainly those in the rear are well looked after.
And yet I couldn't help sensing that buyers will find it hard to pick something like the SW when there are so many of the 'others' to tempt them.
Negative? Yes, probably but the stats are against it. As is the fact we don't buy too many estates here anyway - unlike continental Europe where they account for high proportions of purchases.
So, apart from the boot and smart cabin, why should you opt for a Ceed SW? I just happen to think it's a better all-round package than most. Certainly, if it's space you want, there isn't much to beat it. We had practical use for that deep boot; with the rear seats folded we were into van territory. A nice touch was the bag hook to keep the shopping from slip-sliding all over the place.
Just a couple of guideline dimensions: the new SW is 20mm wider and 20mm lower than the old one but the wheelbase is the same. Critically, the rear overhang is 115mm longer, which is where they get most of that extra cargo space. Important too, that the loading lip is nice and low for shunting stuff in.
Do not however, get the impression that it's a barn of a yoke with all that room. Far from it. The cabin is stylish, the seating was excellent and the materials of a really decent standard.
Thankfully they have kept the trim and pricing simple and straightforward. I honestly don't know how people make up their minds, such can be the stretch of trim levels and options emblazoned by some brands.
I suspect those days are coming to a close with the new emissions system (WLTP) which will, ultimately, reflect the effect on fuel consumption of everything from an extra ash tray to larger wheels.
Another area of positivity on the SW was the 1-litre turbo petrol engine. It impressed with its quietness and pulling power.
But I do have to come back to the fact that these smaller petrol engines, in real-world driving, are noticeably harder on the juice over longer journeys than diesels - that is the nature of the beast. Incidentally there will be a 1.6-litre diesel (€27,595) for the 191-reg period.
And yet for all that talk of room and smartness, the thing I noticed most was the way this car dealt with those bone-juddering ramps that have, of necessity, sprouted like mushrooms in so many areas.
Even so-called 'driver's' cars - and most especially some crossover and SUVs - can thud hard if you traverse one of these at anything other than snail's pace.
For some reason the SW wagon didn't - attributable, I suspect, to how the suspension has been set up on the brand's new K2 platform. It's a really impressive trait and reflected the car's excellent drive generally.
But is all that enough to make you decide to part with your money for an estate rather than a crossover? Hand on heart, I can't say so.
The awful thing is it has nothing to do with the merits of the car. It has everything to do with the current popularity of a genre of transport and its ability to give you a different looking motor and more a commanding view (higher seating position) - a crossover/SUV.
So would I buy the Ceed SW? I would, because it's practical and smart. But, as usual, I feel I'm in a minority.
Next week? It's back to SUVs: I have to go with the flow.
Facts & figures
KIA Ceed Sport Wagon 1.0 petrol
120bhp, €25,295; road tax €200. Core K3-level trim specification includes: cruise control, Lane Keep Assist, air con, parking distance warning, driver attention warning, 16ins alloys, cornering lamps; USB charger, Android auto, Apple CarPlay, 7ins LCD screen with DAB and RDS, rear-view camera, wireless phone chargers, underfloor box and seven-year warranty.