Kia cee'd 2 1.6 CRDi - First Drive

view gallery VIEW GALLERY


Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Transmission: six-speed manual (optional six-speed automatic)
Power: 126 bhp at 4,000 rpm
Torque: 192 Nm at between 1,900 and 2,750 rpm
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 76.3 mpg
CO2 emissions: 97 g/km
Top speed: 122 mph
Acceleration (0-62 mph): 11.5 seconds

The first-generation Kia cee'd was a surprise. It was the first of the Korean company's models to make the big jump required to match some of the best products of mainstream European car makers and, more than any other single car, it cemented Kia's shift in status from also-ran to serious contender in Europe.

Now the second-generation cee'd is here and the only real surprise is that it has arrived so quickly, less than five years after the original model first burst onto the scene. That fact alone will worry Kia's competitors, who are typically locked in to far longer replacement cycles. Skoda's current Octavia, to take one extreme example, first appeared three years before the first cee'd, and still has no publicly announced successor. A shorter cycle is evidence of superior financial firepower and project management expertise, and a huge advantage at a time of rapid technical change since some innovations can only be fed in easily at the time of a model changeover. For the rest, though, the new cee'd is pretty much what you'd expect – and that's a good thing because these days, we have come to expect a lot of Kia. The reason? That original cee'd was followed by a whole range of half a dozen really good cars that all but obliterated any lingering memories of their dreary predecessors.

Anyway, the good news starts with the latest cee'd's appearance. The 2007 car was neat and attractive in an understated, anonymous sort of way but it pre-dated the arrival of Kia's highly talented design chief, Peter Schreyer, previously of Audi and Volkswagen, who has worked hard to give the company's cars a much more stylish and distinctive look. The latest cee'd not only cuts much more of a dash than the old – it's also far more readily recognisable as a Kia, mainly because it has the most extravagant, attention-seeking interpretation of the company's trademark pinched-in-at-the-centre radiator grille shape so far.

Inside, the new car shows a similar advance in terms of style, with a look and feel that immediately brings to mind the attractive interior of Kia's larger Optima saloon, which isn't a bad recommendation at all. It also feels quite a bit roomier than the old cee'd. There are four trim levels, which, in the now familiar Kia fashion, are simply designated 1,2,3 and so on, and all provide decent equipment levels. I drove a 2 and a 4 Tech, a new top version that provides such features as a big glass sunroof, electrically adjustable seats and Xenon headlamps. Thanks to its big sat nav screen and extra “piano black” trim pieces, the 4 Tech certainly felt a bit classier, but the 2 didn't feel particularly bare either - and both were a far cry from the slightly grotty old-school pre-cee'd Kia interiors of of five or ten years ago.

The new car's extra polish is apparent out on the road as well. The engine line-up – petrols and diesels, both available with capacities of 1.4 and 1.6 litres – has a familiar look to it. The Korean manufacturers don't have much of a tradition of making diesels, but the 1.6 fitted to the first cee'd was excellent, and it also benefited from some further improvements with that car's mid-life facelift. The 1.6 diesel in the new car also has Kia's version of stop-start technology, ISG (Intelligent Stop & Go), which helps it to achieve an excellent 76.3 mpg (combined cycle) and 97g/km of CO2 in official tests on the smallest 15-inch wheels. It has retained its characteristic smoothness and easy, free-revving character, although it perhaps has just a touch less mid-range shove than some rivals. The cee'd handles well, although the (electric) Motor Driven Power Steering to some extent uses weight as a substitute for feel. You can alter the level of assistance between three different settings – Comfort, Normal and Sport – depending on driving conditions but my experience of this sort of stuff is that it can be fun to experiment with at first but tends to be ignored once the novelty has worn off.

I also tried the 1.6-litre petrol but this was less appealing than the diesel. For the most part, it shares the diesel's refinement but it's noticeably down on torque and its performance is further blunted by long gearing - although that helps economy. Petrol engine development is the one remaining area in which Kia has, for the time being at least, been outflanked by some of the European manufacturers, who have been busy switching to livelier downsized turbocharged engines for cars in this bracket. Notable examples are the Volkswagen Group's 1.2 and 1.4-litre TSI power units, Renault's 1.2-litre TCe, and of course, Ford's impressive new 1.0-litre EcoBoost. On paper, the cee'd's 126 horsepower normally-aspirated 1.6 compares fairly well with the outputs of these smaller turbocharged engines, but in practice it has rather less character and subjective urge. The 1.6 petrol is also available in conjunction with a new self-shifting twin clutch transmission (TCT). This appeared to flatter the petrol engine's performance with smooth quick shifts but also seemed a bit reluctant to change down under acceleration or when climbing hills. The 1.6 diesel is available with a conventional automatic as an alternative to the manual, rather than the TCT.

Overall, the new cee'd maintains the high standard Kia has set since the original model first appeared. But there is one area in which, for all its polish and sophistication, it reflects its maker's roots as an emerging budget brand – value for money. With a starting price of just £14,395 it's a conspicuous bargain and will surely repeat the success of its predecessor.

Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Head of IT (Not-for-Profit sector) - East Sussex

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + 5 weeks holiday & benefits: Ashdown Group: Head of...

    Nursery Nurse

    £25 per day: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse needed in th...

    Supply Teaching jobs in Thetford

    £21588 - £31566 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

    KS1 teachers needed in Peterborough

    £110 - £125 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are ur...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape