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Kai cee’d 2 SW 1.6-litre CRDi

Click to view picture gallery“The cee’d has always been a very
  good car. And it beats all of the
  competition for the lengthy warranty,
  price and the specification

THE EUROPEAN DESIGNED AND BUILT, value-for-money Kia cee'd five-door hatchback and the SW estate, plus the pro-cee'd three-door hatches, all with seven-year warranties, really saw the brand come of age just over two years ago when they were introduced. Last year Kia sold a total of just over 11,000 of these three model ranges in the UK, with the five-door hatchback being the most popular followed by the SW estate.

Already the cee'd hatchback and SW estates have received their mid-life updates in the form of styling changes, better interior trim and equipment, improved suspension and handling plus the addition of lower emission EcoDynamics diesel models — these will appeal because of their low 35 a year road tax charge. Prices for the new cee'd 2 SW five-door estate range from 13,995 to £16,495.

One of the bonuses about the Scrappage Scheme for Kia has not just been the significant increase in sales: it has also brought customers into their showrooms who haven't previously considered the South Korean brand. Newcomers clearly like the dealers, they like the price of the products and, perhaps above all, they like the seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

The cee'd has always been a very good car; perhaps not in the same class for performance, refinement and handling as the new Golf, Ford Focus or even the new Vauxhall Astra — but it is very close. And it beats all of the competition for the lengthy warranty, price and the specification — and those are the three main reasons the cee'd and its derivatives have done so well.

Add to those the new 35-a-year low road tax EcoDynamics diesel option for all versions and the cee'd's future looks very bright indeed.

The recent 2010 model year changes with the facelift and sharper looks include a new grille and bonnet design and front and rear LED-style lights for the five-door and SW estate models and a classier cabin with more upmarket materials and more logical switchgear. There are also engine tweaks to improve the mpg and lower emissions and changes to the suspension to sharpen up the handling.

The interior still has lots of plastic finishes which are hardwearing but not as classy as the Golf, Astra or Focus. There is a nice use of different textures and moulded lines for the trim but the predominance of black panels still exists. There is some brightwork which lightens the interior although some of the satin finish trim on the dashboard reflects in the windscreen.

The 113bhp turbodiesel
returned a
51.4mpg that varied little
no matter what type of
road or at what speed
I was driving
In the handling department the changes to the suspension have sharpened up the control, body roll is more or less eliminated and the ride is compliant and comfortable. Some potholes will still send shockwaves through the car; more from the rear than the front. There is still considerable road noise transmitted into the car but overall there is improvement. A 'Vehicle Stability Management' system is fitted as standard and the electronic power steering feels predictable if a tad remote.

As an indication of what good value owners get for their money, the specification for the 2010 cee'd SW includes new items such as body-colour door handles, folding key with remote central locking, front fog lights, low-rolling resistance Michelin tyres and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Other main standard fit items include ABS, air conditioning with cooled glovebox, electric and heated door mirrors, deadlocks, driver's seat height and lumbar adjustment, electric front windows, on-board computer, six-speaker audio system with fully integrated CD-player with AM/FM RDS radio and full MP3 compatibility, leather pack (with trimmed steering wheel, handbrake lever, gear selector and console armrest), rake/reach-adjustable steering wheel, rear wash/wipe, tinted glass all round, twin front airbags, twin front side and full-length curtain airbags and 60:40 split folding rear seats.

The excellent load space with the rear seats in position is 534 litres and with them folded down this goes up to 1,664 litres. Underneath the boot floor is a segmented storage tray which provides another useful 35 litres of storage space.

My test model, the 1.6 CRDi cee'd 2 SW — in layman's terms, the second-generation cee'd five-door estate with level '2' specification with the 113bhp turbodiesel engine — returned a constant 51.4mpg that varied little no matter what type of road or at what speed I was driving. Good enough although not quite the best in this sector.

The engine is responsive and after the typical diesel engine clatter at start-up from cold, it warmed and quietened to its task. The very slick and precise six-speed manual transmission was a joy to use and the long-legged sixth gear ratio coped well on country roads in the 40 to 50mph range which some others these days do not.

While it's not quite up to Europe's best for sharp and responsive handling or for the interior finish, and there's considerable road noise intrusion into the car, the cee'd 2 SW has a lot going for it including smart styling, a roomy cabin and improved equipment and it's easy to drive. It's also fuel frugal, good value and comes with that unbeatable seven-year warranty. And my test car costs just 14,995 — remarkable for what you get. No wonder the cee'd SW is the best selling C-segment estate car in the UK. — David Miles

Kia cee
'd 2 SW 1.6 CRDi | 14,995
Maximum speed: 117mph | 0-62mph: 11.1 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 51.4mpg
Power: 113bhp | Torque: 188lb ft | CO2 122g/km | Insurance group 4