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
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

    SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

    SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

    Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

    £85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

    Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

    £55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

    Day In a Page

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor