- We like...Seven-year warranty
- We don't...Noisy engine
Past mid-size Kias haven't been great. But from nowhere the company has come to build a winnerPlay the numbers game, and this Kia is a winner. First, consider its price. The one tested here is the dearest, costing £700 more than the equivalent Cee’d five-door hatchback. But even though it’s packed with kit – alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning, half-leather seats – it comes in cheaper than similar Fords, Vauxhalls or Volkswagens. You’ll save £1600, maybe more.
Then, look at the numbers that relate to its warranty. The Kia is covered by its maker, bumper-to-bumper, for seven years or 100,000 miles. That means no unexpected bills until 2015. No rival offers more than three years cover.
Finally, check the fuel economy and emissions of this 1.6 diesel version. We drove over mostly motorway 800 miles in ours and, according to its dash readout, averaged 52.7mpg. And while achieving this, it pumped out just 128g/km of CO2. That makes it cleaner and more economical than a VW Golf diesel.
But none of this means anything if the car is a clunker. And Kia’s past record of making mid-size cars hasn’t been great. Fortunately, though, this new design is pretty keen. Not great, but good enough to make you think twice about a Ford or any other rival. The SW’s had time and cash spent on its design. So where some others look ungainly, this looks proper. It’s a smidge taller than the hatchback, but has its tailgate hinges set far forward into the roof, so that the rear door opens without whacking the roof in a multi-story car park. It’s also low enough to grab if you’re short and there’s a pull-strap that dangles to make the job easier still.
Lift the boot floor and there are plenty of different-sized storage spaces, one deep enough for a laptop. All told, it’s bigger than the Golf’s, the Astra’s and the Focus’s. The seats tip and tumble to free a large flat load area, though you must first remove the headrests.
The Cee’d drives neatly, gripping and steering well. The diesel motor isn’t as quiet as the best, but it pulls hard and settles to a muted hum at motorway speeds. The controls feel slick, the gearbox notably so. The cabin is cleanly arranged and the bits you notice first are hewn from expensive-looking plastics. Those lower on the dash and on the bottom half of the doors are noticeably cheaper in look and touch.
It’s well equipped for the cash – our top-line LS model had climate controlled air conditioning, alloy wheels, a good stereo including iPod hook-up and half-leather seats. Six airbags and anti-lock brakes are standard – which is as expected for a small estate like this.
So there’s much to like and little to object to, while the seven-years cover should lay to rest any doubts that remain about slipping a Kia keyfob into your pocket.
- Engines1.6 CRDi
- 0-60 mph11.5sec
- Insurance groups6E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: