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Kia ceed 2 1.6 CRDi EcoDynamics 5-dr

Click to view picture gallery“The ceed has been around for
years now and its just had its
life ‘tweaks’: styling updates,
  smarter cabin, improved handling
  (all the better to suit UK roads)
  and the introduction of a low-
  emission EcoDynamics diesel

THERE'S NO DOUBT THAT THE KIA CEE'D IS NOW AN EVEN BETTER BUY, especially as its unbeatable seven-year/100,000-mile warranty is still unmatched by any other brand in Europe. For the record, pre-owned cee'ds sold through Kia dealers can have their warranty topped back up to seven years so, a 'peace of mind' buy even second-hand!

First, the 'new' looks. The most noticeable feature on the smarter new cee'd is the slim new grille: chrome-edged with a black core, it's pinched in the middle to frame the Kia badge. Flanking the grille are new front light clusters with black bezel projection headlamps. Also new is the bonnet, with sharper creases that run smoothly into the windscreen pillars while at the back there are new LED-effect lamp clusters. Overall, the effect is of a more 'premium' vehicle.

Better quality and more of it is also the theme inside. Standard equipment levels are up and the spacious, well trimmed cabin looks noticeably more upmarket. Most prominent is the sporty new four-spoke steering wheel with remote audio, trip control and Bluetooth buttons on the spokes. The fascia has been completely redesigned and the A/C and audio controls sited there are now more intuitive and easier to use.

Under the bonnet of our test 1.6 CRDi cee'd was something very green: Kia's new stop/start system, which explained the EcoDynamics badging on the five-door hatchback's tail. Intelligent Stop & Go, or ISG, works much like similar systems (BMW's EfficientDynamics, for instance) now appearing on many new cars.

Kia's Stop & Go system is idiot-proof in operation — turning off the engine automatically when the speed drops below 3mph and when the gear lever is in neutral and the clutch is released. As soon as you begin to re-depress the clutch pedal the engine immediately restarts itself ready for you to drive away. And no matter how quick you are, it will always be running again before you can get the gear lever into first. So it never holds you up, not even for a second. Also reassuring is the 'Auto Stop' indicator on the dash that illuminates whenever the engine is turned off by the ISG so you know that you haven't accidentally stalled.

And no worries if you do stall the engine — the ISG will restart the engine when you dip the clutch pedal and shift to neutral. Other sensible fail-safes include the ISG being automatically switched off if the battery is weak, the battery temperature is below 2°C or the engine temperature is too low. It's also disabled if the driver's door is open, the driver's seatbelt is unfastened or the bonnet is open.

The ‘greener’ 89bhp
diesel engine is
surprisingly nippy
In real-life driving — even if you've never encountered one of these systems before — it all works smoothly and after a few miles you cease to notice it. And if there are times you don't want it on, you can easily switch it off.

For the present, Kia are only fitting the ISG system to the 89bhp 1.6 diesel and not the same capacity 'high power' 113bhp diesel unit. The 89bhp EcoDynamics variant churns out a useful 173lb ft of torque between 1,750 and 2,500rpm along with CO2 emissions of 110g/km and a combined average consumption of 67.3mpg. Urban and Extra Urban mpg is, officially, 60.1 and 72.4. Our test average worked out to 57.7mpg. If that hadn't included quite a lot of town driving I'm sure we could have matched Kia's official 67mpg figure.

The 'greener' 89bhp engine is surprisingly nippy and makes the usual modern diesel noises — in other words, you're aware of it when it's cold but once it's warmed up you really don't notice it drinks from the 'smelly' pump. Changing gear, up or down, is especially satisfying thanks to the super-slick and precise shift action of the cee'd's six-speed manual 'box. The ratios are well stacked and well matched to the available torque so getting around both in town and out on the open road is all very civilised.

As we've already mentioned, the EcoDynamics cee'd uses the 89bhp 1.6 diesel unit, not the 113bhp version. Did we miss the 'lost' 24bhp? Surprisingly, not at all. The 89bhp is more than capable of getting the EcoDynamics model around smoothly, both in city traffic and on motorways.

The EcoDynamic model is specified with Kia's mid-range trim, which represents very good value, and standard kit includes AirCon (with cooled glovebox), built-in six-speaker audio system comprising CD-player with AM/FM RDS radio and full MP3 compatibility, Aux/USB ports, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, electric front windows (both one-shot up/down), speed-sensitive auto door locking, rear seatbelt reminder, tinted glass, Leather Pack (leather-trimmed steering wheel, handbrake lever, gear selector and console armrest), electric power steering, body-coloured electric and heated door mirrors, multi-function steering wheel, deadlocks and 60:40 split/folding rear seats.

In a single soundbite,
owning this cee
is about
easy driving
n easy living
The cabin is a good environment in which to spend time while on the road — and not just because there are lots of storage cubbies although they do make it very practical, particularly the cooled glovebox! Fit and finish throughout is A1 and the seats, upholstered in a nice-to-the-touch two-tone fabric, are comfortable and supportive — both front seats have adjustable lumbar and the under-thigh support is also just right. All this and lots of room in all directions. Other comfort features include seat height adjustment along with a generous amount of rake and reach movement on the new steering wheel that's not only better to look at but also better to hold.

Rear seat passengers will find travelling in the back very comfortable thanks to the restful backrest angle of the rear bench. Legroom is also really very good — a six-footer can lounge back with 3-4 inches of air between his knee and the back of the front seat, and that's with a near-six-footer sitting ahead of him — and there's ample space for feet to rest easily under the front seats. Head and shoulder room are equally generous. The third 'opera' side window is well sited to make the rear passenger compartment that extra bit 'airy'. And while there isn't a centre rear armrest, the 'outer' armrests on the rear doors are perfect for elbows.

As you might guess from the foregoing, the driving position is spot on. Smart-looking, easy-to-read dials are gathered side by side under a single cowl and the stalks for lights, indicators and wipers all have a nice action. The AirCon (nice rotary controls) is of the set 'n' forget kind and throws out ample quantities of either cold or hot air but, commendably, does it quietly through four deep fascia vents.

Additional standard safety equipment includes active front headrests and height adjustable front seatbelts, twin front and twin front-side airbags as well as full-length curtain airbags, ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and a new Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) programme. Plus you also get Isofix top tethers and lower anchor points, passenger airbag deactivation, an external temperature gauge, rear wash/wipe and, along with the ISG Intelligent Stop & Go system to maximise economy, low rolling resistance Michelin Energy Saver tyres.

The designed and built in Europe cee'd benefits from revisions to the suspension (unusual in this class, the cee'd has independent front and rear suspension) intended to make the cee'd more in tune with UK roads. The resulting handling improvements are detected the very first time you press on: body control is noticeably sharper and there's virtually no body roll. Ride, too, is improved — it's comfortable, compliant and soaks up the bumps. And the electronic power steering is keen enough to let you throw the cee'd about safely. In fact, the cee'd is surprisingly chuckable. And when it's time to call a halt the cee'd does it admirably — the powerful all-disc brakes (vented at the front) deliver excellent stopping power.

In a single soundbite, owning this cee'd is about 'easy driving 'n' easy living'. The reassuring handling behaviour is as good as it needs to be for a five-door hatchback and ensures that everyday driving is relaxing — and made more pleasant by a roomy cabin well insulated against both wind and engine noise.

And it's practical, too: with the rear seats in position, there's 340 litres of load space; fold them down and this increases to a very accommodating 1,300 litres. The tailgate opens high and loading is easy.

The EcoDynamics cee'd offers canny buyers a lot for their money. It looks smart, is exceedingly pleasant to drive, is practical and comes kitted out with a decent amount of standard equipment including the always essential AirCon. On top of that, and cementing it's standing as a top ownership proposition, it's good on fuel, unbeatable on peace of mind (don't forget the seven-year warranty that's unmatched by any other car brand in Europe) and it comes at a temptingly good price. —

Kia cee'd 2 1.6 CRDi EcoDynamics 5-dr
| 14,195
Maximum speed: 107mph | 0-60mph: 13.5 seconds | Overall MPG: 57.7mpg
Power: 89bhp | Torque: 173lb ft | CO2 110g/km | Insurance group TBC