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Kia ceed SW 2 1.6 CRDi EcoDynamics

Click to view picture gallery“Life’s becoming too complicated,
t you say? Everything we
  do today involves a mind-boggling
  number of choices, be it TV channels
  or seating combinations in MPVs.
  A big thank you, then, to Kia for
  making buying an economical family
  estate 100% straightforward

's cee'd SW could be just what you're looking for. Kia has followed the old KISS adage: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Although in this case it could stand for Kia Is Satisfyingly Straightforward.

Whatever, there's just one ultra-economical model in the seven-car, mid-size cee'd estate (SW) line-up the appropriately named EcoDynamics version. Not that the other six could be considered gas-guzzlers by any stretch of the imagination, but the EcoDynamics model is the most miserly of them all. Again, keeping choosing easy, it's available in just one trim level: the well-specced, mid-range '2'.

So what does EcoDynamics give you? For a start, it's a low-emission turbodiesel with Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) that during our week-long test returned 57.5mpg in real-life driving conditions taking in a mix of town centres, highways and byways. Officially and no doubt achievable by more easygoing drivers than us it can return 62.8mpg in the combined cycle, 54.3 in urban landscapes and 68.9mpg on the extra-urban cycle. If you're a business user you'll benefit further from this greenest cee'd's low 13% BIK tax liability.

In addition to its
camel-like ability to
go a long way on
a little juice, the SW
is a nice looker
In addition to its camel-like ability to go a long way on a little juice, the SW is a nice looker from its slim, pinched-in-the-middle, chrome-edged, black-cored grille all the way back to the distinctive Z-shaped rear pillars and LED-effect lamp clusters wrapping up the tail.

Inside the cabin it's all very smartly done, with good quality fixtures and fittings. A four-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel with built-in remote audio, trip computer and Bluetooth buttons looks and feels good to use. Switchgear and dash controls are sited logically on the high-level centre stack and are all easy to reach and use; dials are grouped together under a single cowl; and the AirCon is operated by large, easy-to-grasp rotary knobs and blasts out good quantities of hot and cold air from the four large central and four outer vents without disturbing the cabin's quietness.

The wide, bolstered seats, upholstered in a pleasant-feeling, two-tone black fabric with silver weave centre panels, are comfy and supportive with adjustable lumbar for both driver and passenger. A key requirement for sitting comfortably is under-thigh support and the cee'd's is good. Plus there's generous space in all directions. Ensuring a first class driving position can be easily set is seat height adjustment and a good range of rake and reach adjustability for the wheel.

It's certainly a pleasant cabin; one you won't mind spending journey time in. On a practical level, it's strongly family-orientated with a decent amount of storage and cubby-holes including desirable 'premium' items such as a cooled glovebox.

In fact, even at this mid-range level, Kia are pretty big-hearted with their kit standard items include AirCon, six-speaker audio system with radio/CD-player with full MP3 compatibility (plus Aux/USB ports, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity), electric front windows (auto one-shot up/down), drive-off automatic door locking, rear seatbelt reminder, tinted glass, electric power steering, heated and electrically-operated door mirrors, trip computer, multifunction steering wheel, deadlocks, front foglights, silver roof rails and alloy wheels with low rolling resistance Michelin tyres.

On the move the
EcoDynamics powerplant
is responsive and
the SW nippy enough,
and you
re really only
aware of its diesel nature
by the torque
and not by any telltale
Safety kit is equally good with twin front and front-side airbags as well as full-length curtain airbags, height-adjustable front seatbelts, active front headrests plus electronic stability control. Also standard are Isofix child seat mounting points, key-operated passenger airbag deactivation and the usual external temperature gauge and rear wash/wipe.

Thankfully 'green' no longer means snail-slow. While other cee'd SW diesel models use a four-cylinder 1.6-litre 113bhp unit, the fuel-saving Stop & Go, environment-friendly powerplant makes do with 89bhp from the same 1,582 cubic centimetres. Backing up the power is 173lb ft of torque, peaking between 1,750 and 2,500rpm. Tailpipe CO2 emissions are a healthy 119g/km.

On the move the EcoDynamics-spec powerplant is responsive and the SW nippy enough, and you're really only aware of its diesel nature by the torque and not by any telltale 'rattles'. Town and country progress is smooth and made even smoother by the six-speed manual box's precise and very polished change action.

A quick word about the Stop & Go. It's foolproof, and it can be switched off whenever you want. But, believe me, you won't bother. Once you've stopped, put the gear lever into neutral and taken your foot of the clutch, off goes the engine. The moment the clutch pedal is partially pushed, it instantly restarts. Just like that!

Even so, it's a nice touch that Kia has fitted an 'Auto Stop' indicator in the dash this lights up whenever the engine is turned off by the Stop & Go system so you don't think the engine's stalled on you. Another useful aid to matching those official fuel consumption figures is a gearshift indicator advising when it's the most fuel-efficient time to change up or down. Nice to know that whatever colour your cee'd SW is on the outside, its heart is green.

Rear seat passengers are well catered for the rear seating is comfortable and all the better for the nicely reclined backrest angle. Legroom is very good with plenty of room for feet under the front seats. A six-footer can stretch out behind a six-footer sitting up front and still have a hand's-width of air between his knees and the front seat. Head and shoulder room are equally generous. The triangular-shaped third side windows add that extra bit of welcome airiness to the rear passenger compartment and while there isn't a centre armrest, the door pulls on the rear doors are just right for parking elbows.

All-round visibility
is good and combined
with honest road
manners and accurate
speed-sensitive electric
power steering,
enables you to press on
Load-lugging is well-considered, starting with the tailgate its top hinges are set well back into the roofline for a tighter up- and out-swing so you can stand closer and not have to step back when opening the tailgate; it also means easier access in restricted parking situations.

With the 60:40 split/fold rear seats in position there's an accommodating 534 litres for luggage; fold them down and this increases to a pretty large 1,664 litres.

Lift the boot floor and you'll find more room: a neat, multi-section tray provides a further 55 litres of storage space for the never-ending amount of 'stuff' that's part and parcel of family life. A luggage net and 12-volt power socket continue the practicality theme.

From a carrying point of view, the SW's 173lb ft of torque provides enough 'lugging' power to manage large loads without dulling the cee'd's ability to keep up with the traffic. If you need to pull a trailer, the braked towing weight is a useful 1,400kg.

These latest cee'd models have been 'tuned' to improve handling and ride characteristics for our not so smooth British roads. The all-independent suspension's springs have been softened, and the shock absorbers and anti-roll bars firmed-up. Body control is now sharper, body lean well controlled and the cee'd SW rides flat and level, taking all but the biggest potholes in its stride.

All-round visibility is good and combined with honest road manners and accurate speed-sensitive electric power steering, enables you to press on safely. When you need to rein in the speed, the cee'd does it without protest; the brakes, discs all round and vented at the front, deliver reassuring stopping power. All in all the cee'd is a very agreeable drive both in town and on the motorways where its relaxing gait eats up the miles whether you're travelling solo or en famille.

So not only has Kia made it as simple as possible to pick an economical mid-size family estate, but they've made it good enough so that a visit to a Kia showroom could be both the first and last visit you make before pulling out your cheque book. And we haven't even mentioned its no-catch, seven-year / 100,000-mile, bumper-to-bumper warranty. — MotorBar

Kia cee'd SW 2 1.6 CRDi EcoDynamics | 16,485
Maximum speed: 107mph | 0-62mph: 13.5 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 57.5mpg
Power: 89bhp | Torque: 173lb ft | CO2 119g/km