THERE’S more to the Kia Cee’d Sportswagon than meets the eye. Covering the simplest bases it’s the replacement for the old Cee’d SW, but with verve enough to justify the extended name.
The last generation Cee’d was a very good car at a frankly unbelievable price. If you didn’t buy one, you missed a bargain. This second-generation model range, brought in earlier this year with the five-door hatchback and due to be completed with a three-door Pro_Cee’d next year, is a very different kettle of cod. You’d say it has matured.
Kia has left behind its days of making cheap cars, and now it makes ones that are priced on a par with the Fords, the Vauxhalls and the Nissans of this world. Time, then, to show the European buyers for whom the Sportswagon is built exactly what the Korean firm is made of.
It’s a simple range, with just two diesel engines and four basic trim levels, numbered one to four and using numerals rather than letters, after the Kia fashion. There’s technically also a fifth spec called ‘4 Tech’, which is by no means cheap at over £24,000 but comes with an astonishing array of kit.
It’s at the other end that there’s likely to be a lot of interest, though. The entry-level ‘1’ 1.4 CRDi is set apart as the only trim level to use the smaller of the two diesel engines, but it’s also where the lowest CO2 rating is. Thanks to 15-inch steel wheels and an efficient engine with stop-start technology, the 1.4 dips to 109g/km.
That’s important because Kia is aiming around 85% of Cee’d Sportswagon sales at ‘user-choosers’; those who choose their own company car from a list given to them by their employer.
To them, lower CO2 means a lower monthly benefit-in-kind tax bill, and this particular Cee’d also happens to be the cheapest in the range, lowering its taxable value and reducing bills still further. Sitting in the 15% tax bracket, the most basic Sportswagon offers an awful lot of car for the money.
Its strongest points come in the guise of its user-friendliness, its ride quality – something it shares with its larger-wheeled siblings – and its relative lack of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
Its user-friendliness manifests itself in well-weighted controls, brilliant all-round visibility and a logical but attractive dashboard. It’s incredibly easy to get on with from minute one. The rear doors have been redesigned for the Sportswagon to ensure it looked right and gave maximum visibility for the driver; something that pays off on the road. Equally, the steeply-raked and forward-slung A-pillars are well out of your line of sight when approaching typical roundabouts. Like all great all-rounders, it just works.
This basic model does without the Flex Steer adjustable steering weight system found on upper models, and feels more natural and consistent for it. Linked with a plush ride quality, extremely well suited to rough road surfaces and pockmarked roads like ours, the overall ride quality and driving experience is one of confidence and comfort, which makes a marvellous change from the often over-stiffened and crashy ‘sports’ suspension you’ll find on other compact cars.
And compact the Sportswagon seems. Or rather it’s remarkably well packaged. At 15mm longer, 10mm narrower and 40mm lower than the old SW, it’s a sleeker beast. It’s very well proportioned and hides its 4.5-metre length well, concealing a usefully-arranged 528-litre boot with under-floor compartments. It expands up to 1642 litres with the seats down.
When you’re inside this particular model, something odd strikes you. You know it’s the basic version, but since when was a car with air conditioning, electric windows, electric mirrors, a CD player, soft-touch dashboard materials, Bluetooth, a comprehensive trip computer and a six-speed gearbox basic? The truth is that the ‘1’ offers everything you need. For an extra £800 you can specify the 1.6-litre diesel, which is punchier but needs thousands of miles under its belt to properly loosen up. The larger engine also brings alloy wheels but it pushes the CO2 rating up into the next road tax band and the benefit-in-kind up 2% to 17%.
The Cee’d Sportswagon ‘1’ is one of several flavours in which you can buy the car. It may be the least well equipped, but it has a wonderful combination of abilities that will make it a real joy to own. Its comfortable ride, 60mpg realistic fuel economy, stylish but not overstated interior, high build quality that’s obvious from the off, ample legroom for five, a big boot and so much more make this entry-level model arguably the Sportswagon that offers the best value. It’s a very impressive package.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Kia Cee’d Sportswagon 1 1.4 CRDi ISG, £16,895 on the road.Engine: 1.4-litre turbodiesel producing 89bhp and 162lb.ft.Transmission: 6-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels.Performance: 0-62mph in 13.4 seconds, top speed 106mph.Fuel economy: 67.3mpg.CO2 rating: 109g/km.