The trouble with a lively and responsive engine, as fitted to the featured Kia cee’d Sportswagon for example, is that a lively and responsive driver will likely use it in a lively and responsive fashion. This has the downside of adversely affecting fuel consumption. The answer of course is to calm the heck down and drive abstemiously; or simply buy the diesel.
The original 2007 Kia cee’d Sportswagon was a spacious and smartly-styled estate car which didn’t cost much to run. The car was a boring drive and unimpressive on the inside. The cee’d however, more than any other Kia, has proved to be the mainstay of the brand. Across the range Kia motors have improved in leaps and bounds and they now rival their European and Japanese counterparts especially when you consider the now legendary seven-year warranty. This Sportswagon is a case in point.
The vehicle in question sported the new 118bhp three-pot 1.0L T-GDi (turbo-gasoline direct injection) which had the added benefit of Stop/Start. Kia reckon that 54.3mpg can be had from this motor and who am I to say that this is not so? Simply put though, I got nowhere near this, remaining disgracefully in the mid-thirties thanks to the engine being lively and responsive etc.
Sixty-two miles per hour is officially achieved in a pedestrian 11 seconds but that rather artificial number isn’t the whole story. With diligent use of the six-speed manual gearbox and a desire to drive in a lively and responsive manner means that this car can crack on. It is now a much better driver with the added bonus of being able to adjust the motor-driven power steering weight to suit.
If fuel consumption is of primary import then one of the other engines may be more appropriate, although you would be missing out on the fun. There’s a 98bhp 1.4L petrol plus a 89bhp 1.4L diesel equivalent which to my mind are underwhelming and to be avoided. Much better is the 134bhp 1.6L diesel which will give you the miles per gallon you crave. This is the one to choose if you drive distances but otherwise I would stick with the modern, lively and responsive three-cylinder turbo which is a little beauty.
Trim differences are annotated via the key numbers 1,2,3 and 4, plus GT Line. Prices range from around £15k through to £25,000 approximately, depending. The featured car in ‘3’ trim costs £21,120 OTR. It’s a smart design, with the familial ‘tiger’ grille, that looks good at the kerb. I prefer the looks of the Sportswagon to the hatch, personally. The Kia has a stand-out array of equipment as standard. There’s a host of safety kit too and rather than list it all here I’ve put a full specification at the bottom of the page. One useful feature is the throttle ‘kick-down resistance’ feature, designed to aid fuel efficiency by making a heavy boot a matter of choice rather than ease. Suffice to say, you get a lot of car for the money. It’s a near premium-look alternative to some of the more mundane and commonplace euro-offerings.
The car’s suspension errs on the firmish side which aids the handling and reduces corner lean, especially when driving in a lively and responsive manner. All the various occupants pronounced the ride comfortable, front and rear. In short, the suspension makes a good compromise of user requirements.
I like the interior. Sure, at this price point you don’t get sumptuous leather, but the cloth seats are comfortable and there’s enough seat/column adjustment for even the lankiest fellow. Rear seat passengers have adequate, if not class-leading, space. The dashboard is covered with what seems like hard-wearing plastic but it is textured and soft to the touch and thus not unattractive.
There’s enough bright touches, like the chrome-finish door handles, to lift the interior. There is also the now usual steering wheel controls coupled with touch settings on the clear 8” screen which cuts down on the button count. The various settings are all straightforward to use and the navigation is clear. As mentioned, the steering weight can be adjusted on the fly (optional) via a steering wheel mounted button offering Normal, Comfort and Sport, depending upon the circumstances.
The Kia cee’d Sportswagon makes a virtue of space and is perhaps its USP. The rear seats split/fold 60:40 giving a variable and versatile boot that is enhanced by a cargo net, hooks and, at the very back, a deep underfloor well that accommodated and kept hidden my camera gear. Lift the floor panel further and there’s a split tray for even more hidden storage. It’s gets better still too because underneath all that is a real space-saver spare wheel where you would expect a horrible kit to be. Further bolstering the Sportswagon’s load carrying capabilities are roof rails and myriad storage points. A great use of available space in a modestly sized motor.
The Versatile Choice
Forget Kia from the olden days and embrace the thoroughly modern motors that the Korean company produce now. Prices are very competitive and the cee’d rates well in user surveys. Certainly, the cost-efficient interior isn’t the most plush cabin around but it seems well put together and does the family car job, especially with that versatile boot.
The Kia cee’d Sportswagon competes well in its sector and the exterior looks great against some of the rather more mundane offerings from around the globe (and there’s a lot of them). Then of course, there’s that warranty. The diesel engines are the sensible choice but the lively and responsive 998cc is the most fun and injects a lighter touch to driving that would be my preference. A worthy contender.
(Note: At the time of posting this I am testing the rarely seen Mondeo-baiting Kia Optima and it is proving to be a bit of a winner. Next week.) Geoff Maxted