Cee’d steps up to the big league

Kia Cee'D diesel
Kia Cee'D diesel

WOW. Just wow. Kia demonstrates a genuine maturity and focus on what customers want and need with the second generation cee’d.

It’s at its best with a 1.6-litre diesel under the bonnet, but price creep means it’s not the conspicuous bargain it once was.

First you’ll need to choose which diesel engine because the cee’d is offered with a choice of two.

The entry level 1.4-litre unit is no great hardship, generating 89bhp at 4,000rpm and 220Nm of torque at 1,500rpm.

Kia rather unhelpfully only offers this engine in base ‘1’ trim, so if you want equipment at the expense of horsepower, tough.

Still, it persuades you to migrate to the superior 1.6-litre CRDi unit which is no bad thing.

Here the sprint to 60mph is shaved from 13 seconds down to 11.5, with the 126bhp powerplant doing its best work between 1900 and 2750rpm, where it’s making 260Nm of torque.

Rowed along on a good percentage of those Newton metres, the cee’d feels agreeably sprightly and the engine note isn’t unpleasant either.

The steering isn’t the most natural feeling and there is quite a bit of wind and tyre noise, but it has a great front end with plenty of grip.

It rolls a bit as you enter a corner, but you expect that in an all-rounder like this. Ride quality isn’t quite up to the class best but it’s not that far off.

The manual gearchange is light but positive and the brakes are excellent. It’s just a shame that Kia’s DCT twin-clutch transmission isn’t offered in conjunction with a diesel powerplant as yet.

The first cee’d was quite a handsome thing. The silhouette was a little retro but the detailing was neat.

This time round, the cee’d has a far more contemporary stance that’s both longer and lower than its predecessor, giving the five-door hatchback a more wedgy look.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the Kia cee’d diesel. Cover up the badge on the steering wheel and most people would have no clue they were sitting in a South Korean car.

There’s an assurance and maturity about its design that speaks of a manufacturer really finding its stride.

Where it runs into trouble is in the judging criteria. Things the old cee’d would have got away with now become salient issues.

The cee’d just doesn’t drive as well as a Focus and it won’t retain its value like a Golf.

If you’re priced with the big boys, you have to take your lumps with ‘em too.

Nevertheless, with its seven year warranty and generous equipment levels, the cee’d will continue to find buyers.

It’s no longer the no-brainer proposition it used to be, but those with a bit of savvy will recognise that with new cee’d comes new attractions.

Subtlety hasn’t always been a big sales winner though.

Despite this, I have faith that Kia knows what it’s doing.

This cee’d does just about enough to earn a recommendation from us.