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Click to view road test review picture gallery“Kia’s highly-regarded
  new cee’d SW Estate
  is challenging for the
  European Car of the
  Year 2008 title.
  For reasons he will
  explain, it is already
  the winner of David
  Miles’ value-for-money
  Car of the Year...”

KIA'S CEE'D HAS MADE THE FINALS of European Car of the Year 2008 awards. The cee'd will be competing for the title against six other new models — the Fiat 500, Ford Mondeo, Mazda 2, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Nissan Qashqai and the Peugeot 308 — which will be judged by a jury of professional motoring writers from 22 European countries. Although the cee'd is highly rated by the motoring media — because of its user-friendly size, build quality, high specification, very competitive pricing and the long warranty — it is likely to be the 'outsider' to win this annual competition. However, just to be nominated for the final is an achievement in itself and a huge boost for the brand.

Another boost for the Kia and cee'd fortunes was the launch last month of the cee'd SW — a 'lifestyle' estate car. Prices initially ranged from £12,995 up to £14,995 with 1.6-litre, 120bhp petrol and 89/ 113bhp turbodiesel engines. But read on…

The cee'd SW is also covered by a seven-year 100,000 mile warranty, launched with the cee'd five-door hatchback. The cee'd SW models are priced just £700 higher than the equivalent five-door hatchback models whilst its main estate competitors — Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Renault Megane Sport Tourer — show increases of up to £970 over their hatchback equivalents.

Five-speed manual gearboxes are standard but a £1,000, four-speed automatic transmission is available on the 1.6-litre petrol LS model, which sells for £14,995. An auto 'box is expected to be added for the higher power diesel engine later this year and, depending upon demand, a sporty 2.0-litre turbodiesel with automatic transmission could also join the SW range next year.

However, Kia has already announced that for their 2007 'quarter four' sales promotion, customers can now buy the cee'd SW diesel models for the same price as its petrol equivalent — giving savings of up
to £1,000. This means the 1.6-litre CRDi SW GS 89bhp model costs £12,995 and the best-selling 1.6-litre CRDi SW LS 113bhp model costs just £13,995.

The Kia cee'd hatchback has been on my own personal list of Cars of the Year ever since it was launched. The size, packaging, quality, specification, driveability, warranty and finally price made it the certain winner of my 'value for money' Car of the Year. The launch of the SW, and now with reduced diesel engine prices for the remainder of this year, further strengthens its claim.

For now the customers are the winners. So retail or business users wanting a new medium sized estate would be silly not to get them-selves along to a Kia dealer to at least consider snapping up a diesel-engined SW whilst the launch promotion is still running.

Before you do that, what precisely is the Kia cee'd SW all about? Well apart from borrowing the SW name from Peugeot (who brand their estates as SWs), and also mirroring the Peugeot SW rear-end styling with twin triangle-shaped side windows for the load area the new-comer has the same 2,650mm wheelbase as the cee'd five-door hatch-back. The body, however, has been stretched 235mm behind the rear axle line for more load space; and it is 10mm taller.

The smart tail treatment includes an integrated tailgate where the top hinges are moved forwards, thereby extending the tailgate into the roofline. This means the upswing and outswing of the tailgate are both reduced so owners can stand closer to the rear of the car when using the tailgate, and it can opened in restricted parking spaces or garages.

The cee'd hatchback is one of the roomiest cars in its sector so it follows the new SW is likewise very competitive in this area. Capacity up to the rear window line is 534 litres with the 60-40 spilt rear seats in place — 200 litres more than the cee'd hatchback. There is also 55 litres of additional space in trays beneath the load area floor. With the rear seats folded there is 1,664 litres of load space — 300-litres more than the hatchback.

It is all very clever and beautifully executed, nicely styled with good quality fixtures and fittings. Overall it works really well and sets the standard for medium sized estate cars. The neat under-floor trays,
the side storage boxes in the load area, luggage net and a load area
12-volt power socket are typical of the attention to detail the Kia designers now give to their new European vehicles.

Another point to show Kia is learning — and in response to customer requests — is the move of the indicator stalk to the traditional left-hand side of the steering column for the cee'd SW. All other models will, in due course, follow this change.

In keeping with market demands, the cee'd SW is offered with only the two upper trim levels — GS and LS — both of which are equipped with all the features found on the equivalent hatchback, plus a number of supplementary items in the load area.

The standard specification includes air conditioning with a cooled glovebox, 16-inch alloy wheels, a fully-integrated RDS radio-CD player that is compatible with MP3 players or iPods, rake and reach steering adjustment, a driver's seat that has height adjustment, active head-rests on both front seats, front electric windows, remote central lock-ing with deadlocks and alarm, six airbags, headlamp levellers, automatic door locking once the car is on the move, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, tinted glass, a trip computer, pre-temperature control on diesel models, an all-seat seat-belt reminder, body-coloured electric and heated door mirrors, along with leather trim on the steering wheel, gearlever and handbrake grip.

LS versions also have climate control, rear electric windows, reversing sensors, cloth and leather upholstery, front fog lamps, body-coloured door handles, silver-trimmed centre fascia, seatback pockets, illumin-ated vanity mirrors, a front map lamp and sunglasses holder, illuminated ignition key barrel and cruise control for the diesel models.

The only important item missing as standard is an Electronic Stability Programme. It is available as a £350 option; but only on LS models.

The 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engines are designed, engineered and manu-factured in Europe whilst the 1.6-litre petrol unit comes from Korea. In truth the 113bhp turbodiesel unit, especially at the new promotional price, is the one to go for — and most customers will. It is strong, quiet, responsive and it returns an official 57.6mpg with CO2 emissions of only 128g/km — putting it in VED Group C with a road tax cost of £115.

My test car returned 46.1mpg — still very good. With 188lb ft of torque from 1,900rpm, the engine is 'gutsy' and responsive. Equipped as standard with a five-speed manual gearbox, the cee'd would be even better for motorway travelling with a six-speed gearbox, which would lower engine noise and improve fuel economy even further.

The rack-and-pinion power steering is sharp and accurate and provides the driver with good feedback. The ride is flat and level thanks to all-round independent suspension which is also good news if you need to tow. The braked towing weight is a useful 1,400kg. It is also very comfortable, although slightly firm on poorer surfaces, with minimal road noise intrusion apart from on concrete road sections.

All-in-all, the Kia cee'd SW is an exceptional value-for-money estate, smartly styled with loads of carrying room for either passengers or luggage, or both. Then there's the high specification, long warranty and build quality. My only complaint is that, although it is optional on the LS models, the Electronic Stability Programme does not come as standard. However, the reduced price of £13,995 until year's end (2007) means you still come out hundreds of pounds ahead and more than makes up for this. That noted, the cee'd SW has to be praised in almost every area and is a vehicle I recommend when practicality at
a price is required. — David Miles

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Kia cee'd SW 1.6 CRDi LS | £14,995
Maximum speed: 116mph | 0-62mph: 11.7 seconds
Overall test MPG: 46.1mpg | Power: 113bhp | Torque: 188lb ft

CO2 128g/km | VED Band C £115 | Insurance Group 6
Visit Kia's website Click to go there now

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