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Kia cee’d Sportswagon 1.6 CRDi 7-DCT GT-Line

Click to view picture gallery“Kias sharp-looking all-new ceed
  Sportswagon estate enters 2016
  with a few pleasant surprises, not
  least the seven-speed, dual-clutch
  automatic gearbox partnering its
  more powerful 134bhp 1.6 turbo-
  diesel engine...”

KIA'S ALL-NEW SECOND-GENERATION MID-SIZED ESTATE also comes with a new name Sportswagon. Which nicely sums up its character for buyers on the lookout for a stylish and accommodating estate car. Especially one with a manageable 'footprint': from nose to tail the Sportswagon measures 4.5 metres, making it perfectly fit for purpose.

For the majority of potential buyers the most important figures will be 510 and 1,642 litres capacity respectively of the boot and the full loadbay with the 60:40-split rear seats folded down.

And making sure that there's sufficient power in the engine room to propel the Sportswagon however much of all that load space is being used (be it for people or packages) is an upgraded 1.6-litre CRDi engine with 134bhp that's backed-up by more torque: 206lb ft in manual versions and 221lb ft with the new dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

On the move the
1.6-litre CRDi works well
with Kia’s new dual-
clutch autobox — left to
its own devices the
seven-speeder makes life
behind the wheel as
smooth as it can be...”
On the move the 1.6-litre CRDi works well with Kia's new DCT transmission because whereas most dual-clutch 'boxes are used for added sportiness, left to its own devices Kia's is more about helping make life as easy as it can be. Which will be especially appreciated by all those drivers for whom relaxed, refined progress is a primary requirement.

For those times when you want to 'press on' it's equally on the ball as it can be used in manual mode (via the selector lever or the steering wheel paddle-shifters) to fully access the performance. You can, of course, use the kickdown, which is well managed and which, thankfully, isn't at all 'trigger happy' and picks exactly the right gear for the right degree of extra acceleration.

However, when going down the DIY gearchange route most 'hands-on' dual-clutch autobox drivers prefer to use the wheel-mounted paddles to select the ratio they wish to exploit. Whatever shifting mode you choose man or machine the seven-speed DCT will carry out your orders faithfully and smoothly.

The turbodiesel follows where the DCT leads, revving sweetly as it gets into its stride around 1,750rpm when its maximum 221lb ft of torque really comes alive. Another plus point is that it doesn't shout about it, being agreeably muted for an oil-burner.

Also reaping the benefits from this new DCT-turbodiesel partnership is the Blue Planet: compared with the previous conventional six-speed autobox, the new dual-clutch transmission's emissions fall by almost 25% from 145 to 109g/km with real-world fuel economy averaging 50mpg.

Partner or car, everyone wants a 'good-looker'. Responding to human nature, Kia have introduced the GT-Line spec for buyers who want the sporty styling and trim of the flagship GT models but with lower fuel, insurance and taxation costs.

Partner or car, everyone
wants a ‘good-looker’.
Responding to human
nature, Kia have
introduced the GT-Line
spec for buyers who want
the sporty styling
and trim of the flagship
GT models but with lower
running costs...”
GT-Line models certainly look the 'biz' and are identified by a deep front bumper and standout 'ice cube'-style LED daytime running lights housed in high-gloss black panels flanking a unique black lower grille, neatly topped off by a high-gloss black mesh main grille with a graphite chrome surround.

GT touches continue at the tail with an equally sporty rear bumper and double-barrelled tailpipes. The number plate and rear foglights are also encased in black high-gloss panels while the rear lamps are full LED units. Externally, the GT-Line package is finished off with a set of bespoke dark metallic grey, five-double-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels. All of which makes for a far more eye-catching wagon than most of its class rivals.

Inside, the GT-Line upgrades continue with striking two-tone upholstery plus powered lumbar adjustment for both the driver and front passenger. Time spent behind the wheel is improved by a sporty leather steering-wheel with a perforated grip and silver stitching that's echoed on the trim and seats.

Look down and there's also a set of sleek alloy pedals. A matt black finish demarcates the touchscreen surround; the console tray, air vent surrounds and door trims are embellished in contrasting high-gloss black and faux black leather inserts add extra garnish to the doors.

While the focus of our review is the 1.6-litre turbodiesel, we should point out that diesel isn't the only flavour petrol is also an option, with 1.4 and 1.6-litre engines, as well as a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder ecoTurbo unit.

Open the door and climb inside the GT-Line cabin's style upgrade makes an immediate impact. The black-and-grey fabric seats with quilt-effect, cross-stitched centre panels look very comfy — and they are.

It's easy to set a spot-on driving position and once you've done that you'll enjoy clear views out in all directions. Long seat bases provide good under-knee support; the bolstering is also comfortably firm and the smart-looking seats are supportively comfy for extended drives.

The touchscreen’s
infotainment menus are
intuitive and simple to
use, made even better by
a raft of new ‘connected’
services powered by
TomTom — speed
camera locations, live
traffic updates, weather
and local search
The dash is attractively laid out around a seven-inch touchscreen that controls the infotainment systems. Ergonomics are good, with crisp and clear, chrome-edged dials. Bracketed by a rev-counter on the left and fuel gauge to the right, the large speedometer also shows key driver information on its integral LCD display.

The touchscreen's entertainment and navigation menus are intuitive and simple to use, made even better by a raft of new 'connected' services powered by TomTom these include live traffic updates, speed camera locations, and weather information as well as providing local search functionality. Shortcut buttons around the touchscreen take you directly into the main menus.

The SatNav comes with European mapping, a Traffic Messaging Channel, the choice of fast, short or economical route-planning and painless full UK postcode destination entry, speaks directions in good time and shows clear junction views and enhanced lane guidance graphics that are especially useful (and welcome) when your route takes you along busy motorways.

And when you're parking, the touchscreen makes life easier by switching to a reversing camera view complete with a positioning grid. And, just to be sure, audible rear parking sensors are also fitted (an automated parking pilot is optional). Keeping your cool is another prerequisite when driving and the dual-zone climate control system does a great job of keeping the driver and passengers cool, chilly, warm, or hot, as requested.

The recent range upgrades, boosted by the GT-Line trappings and combined with fine fit-and-finish, a well-judged mix of trim textures and some classy detailing (chrome, high-gloss and silky-satin black) create a cabin that drivers and passengers will enjoy spending time in.

It's also easy to keep it at its spick and span best thanks to plenty of storage solutions including a roomy cooled glovebox, drop-down sunglasses case, cupholders, a large 'cave' below the fascia with AUX and USB connectivity plus room for your portable devices, and large bins in the front doors that will easily hold a bottle of Prosecco!

“The Sportswagon
isn’t all about those occupying the front
seats — inside the rear
cabin you sit higher than
those ahead of you and
with room for adults to
relax, it favours the
mix-and-match seating
and cargo requirements
of family life...”
Did we mention that the sporty-looking, all-black steering wheel is multifunction? Well it is, and it makes it as safe as possible while on the move to control the audio, phone, cruise, speed limiter, and the driver's information display. And when you're not doing that, there are shapely cut-outs for your thumbs.

Other must-haves such as an illuminated aluminium engine Start/Stop button, keyless Smart Entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror, powerfold door mirrors (on demand and automatically on locking and leaving), Bluetooth with music streaming, DAB radio (with MP3 compatibility), auto lights and wipes, one-shot up/down windows, tinted glass, tyre pressure monitoring and drive-away automatic door locking are all included.

But the Sportswagon isn't just about pampering those occupying the front seats. Its rising waistline or, to be correct, 'beltline' gives the impression of a sloping roofline but in fact it's not as acute as it appears and consequently inside the rear cabin there's inches of headroom for passengers even though they sit higher than those in the front two seats.

With room for adults to relax, the Sportswagon favours the mix-and-match seating and cargo requirements of family life. The absence of a central transmission tunnel leaves plenty of foot room so three in a row is definitely doable although the big, wide, well-padded centre armrest (with twin built-in cupholders) and nicely contoured outer rear seats probably means two will the prime number travelling in the back row.

Getting in and out is a breeze courtesy of the fairly large door openings and there are damped grabs just in case. Drinkies are on the menu because bottles can be safely stowed in the door bins, and there are magazine pockets ahead of your knees.

The Sportswagon is also plenty accommodating when it comes to working in its estate mode its 510-litre boot is impressively large but fold the 60:40-split rear seatbacks (the bases flip-up and tumble forwards with their headrests in-situ) and you'll be faced with a huge, seamlessly flat-floored cargo bay of 1,642 litres. A nice timesaving touch: when the back seats are dropped (or raised) the rear seatbelts stay out of the way.

“With retuned power steering and torque vectoring now fitted to minimise understeer in hard cornering, the Sportswagon has ample grip and more than enough ability to press on with purpose along twistier roads...”
Access is straightforward as in addition to the wide-opening rear doors there's a high-opening tailgate with a matched boot floor/rear bumper sill that facilitates hassle-free loading. Naturally, bag hooks and tie-down rings are provided while a smooth-running roller blind keeps the boot's contents shielded from prying eyes. A space-saver spare wheel is stored under the boot floor and above it sits a very practical, multi-compartment storage tray boosted by deep pockets either side.

Now you know that everything has a place and that there's a place for everything inside the Sportswagon, how does this latest cee'd estate travel? Like its load-lugging abilities, when it comes to a comfortable ride the Sportswagon delivers. Whether its motorway, city street or country lane you're driving over, the ride is very comfortable.

Kia has fettled the fully independent suspension but not for hot-hatch sportiness as they have for the new GT cee'd and pro_cee'd versions but for ride quality; and driving the estate you can feel that the tweaks have been worthwhile. And at higher speeds, where you can also appreciate the cabin's refinement, the Sportswagon feels reassuringly settled.

So does that mean it's too soft to tango? Not a bit of it the retuned motor-driven power steering can be set at Comfort, Normal or Sport and delivers enough feedback in Sport for you to drive with some gusto along twistier roads. With torque vectoring now fitted to minimise understeer in hard cornering, the Sportswagon has ample grip and more than enough ability to press on with purpose. However, for unruffled journeys you can't do better than to park the selector lever in Drive and just soak up the supple ride.

Kia's transferable seven-year warranty package is the best in the business but that alone has not been the reason for over a million cee'd sales to date. In 1.6 turbodiesel-DCT guise the Sportswagon estate makes a convincing alternative to the best in class; choose the GT-Line spec and you also get pizzazz to go!

Kia cee'd Sportswagon 1.6 CRDi 7-DCT GT-Line | 23,230
Maximum speed: 122mph | 0-60mph: 10.5 seconds | Test Average: 49.1mpg
Power: 134bhp | Torque: 221lb ft | CO2: 109g/km