Kia Cee'd 1.4 CRDi 1 Sportswagon

How Kia has evolved its estate to rival the best of Europe

Price £16,895 (range up to £24,795)

Engine 1,396cc, four cylinders, 16 valves, turbodiesel, 89bhp

Transmission Six-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive

Performance 106mph, 0-62 in 13.4sec, 67.3mpg, CO2 109g/km

Car factories are amazing places, with rolls of sheet steel going in at one end and transport units of stunning sophistication coming out the other. Most factories which mass-produce popular cars tend to be similar to each other, but something is different at the Kia factory outside Zilina, in Slovakia.

Unusually spacious, the factory has a pervasive air of calm. This is the brave new world of car-making. That this Slovakian factory builds Korean-badged cars designed mainly in Germany shows us how the world has shrunk. And the latest Kia, the second-generation Cee'd whose predecessor was the factory's first product, makes the point the best of all.

The hatchback version arrived last April; the estate Sportswagon is on sale now. Kia's parent company, Hyundai, has also just launched a Tourer version of its i30, a car which is almost exactly the same as the Cee'd under the skin, has a similarly steeply rising waistline and seeks to snare similar past buyers of Volkswagen Golfs and Ford Focuses.

They can do this on equal terms with their old-world rivals, because today's Korean-instigated cars are every bit as sophisticated as rivals from Europe or Japan. It does pose a marketing problem, though, when the same corporation produces two similar cars of competing brand. How to choose between them?

Tricky. Kia is meant to be the "sportier" brand, although that applies more to the people it aims to attract than the cars themselves, but it's true that Kia's products have a more European look to them because that is where they are styled. The new Cee'd is certainly a good-looking car by today's depressed standards. Though roomy, it comes across as a neater, more integrated design than the new Focus estate, and lither than the surprisingly vast Vauxhall Astra estate. Engines are of 1.4 or 1.6 litres, diesel-only, reflecting the market reality for such cars, in the Sportswagon. Trim levels rise from base "1" to plush "4", with a top 4 Tech version featuring extra electronic toys you don't need.

Either "4" version is best avoided because it forces an electric parking brake on you, which might make sense with the 1.6's optional six-speed automatic but is just a nuisance with a manual transmission. Actually, there is little need to move beyond the base level: it shares the high-quality padding and trim materials of the dearer versions, and it has air-conditioning, electric front windows, a good stereo system, electric mirrors and plenty more. The 1.4 model has steel wheels, a material which has proved excellent for wheel construction over the years, but the 1.6 does give you the aluminium-alloy ones that buyers now expect. Their bigger diameter might be expected to spoil the ride comfort, but they make little difference. Nor does the steering-wheel button fitted to "2" and above, which alters the resistance of the (very good) electric power-steering according to taste. The middle "normal" setting is generally best, but the variation is subtle. All of these Cee'ds have a firmer ride than their equivalent Hyundais but remain comfortable enough.

As for the engines, the 89bhp 1.4 is unusually smooth and quiet for a diesel, and makes up for its gentle performance with terrific fuel economy. The 126bhp 1.6 is much punchier but sounds harsher. Either way you get a remarkable seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, but would I pay £7,900 more for a 1.6 "4 Tech" than I would on a thoroughly equipped, very frugal 1.4 "1"? Absolutely not.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

    £300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

    KS1 Teacher

    £95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

    HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

    £32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?