06 December 2006
Author: Richard Aucock
|Category:|| Lower medium|
|Key rival:|| Ford Focus|
Kia's new Ceed comes with a seven-year warranty, valid for 100,000 miles. That would be enough for some, the best warranty in Europe, on an £11k hatchback. 'Nuff said.
But others are pickier, so it's lucky the car's good, too.
A five-door hatch that claims class-leading interior space while remaining Focus-sized, the Korean company's Ceed has been designed and built in Europe. It's contemporary and tidy, with brilliant paint quality and narrow panel gaps. It's no groundbreaker, admittedly, but it won't embarrass.
Inside, the design is cohesive, and all the controls operate with a weighted precision.
Soft-touch plastics abound, and there's a cracking factory-fit stereo, well-integrated optional satnav system, and firm, supportive seats. Water-repellent side glass (that disperses water) plus a USB socket that plays MP3s from memory sticks are included as options. It feels a quality car.
It's very roomy in the back, the boot's decent and equipment levels even on the base S include six airbags, steering wheel stereo controls, plus aircon that cools the glovebox.
The 1.6-litre petrol is preferable to the 2.0-litre. Generally refined and smooth if a bit vocal on the motorway, it's surprisingly torquey and returns 44mpg. Of the two 1.6-litre diesels, the higher-powered 115PS is a cracker, returning 60mpg with smooth, relatively lag-free delivery. It's the best of this group of three, and seems a challenger for European diesels.
A sporty-feeling set-up is a minor revelation for a Kia. Quick-reacting steering sees the nose dive purposefully into corners, and there's cohesiveness to the drive. It flows, despite a ride that can be a little firm, particularly on larger wheel options that go up to 17-inch.
A total of 10,000 Ceeds will arrive in the UK next year, of which around half will be 1.6-litre petrol GS and LS. Around a third will be diesel, suggesting a retail bias that's underlined by Kia's aim of 40% direct fleet sales.
Kia is cagey with regards to retained values. Surely that warranty should blow the competition out of the water? It'll help, but it seems controlling numbers is more important. Kia is determined to do that, hopefully achieving a value in the early 40s percentage-wise. That will be of list prices starting from around £11,000 for the 1.4 S, and rising to an estimated £16,500 for the 2.0-litres diesel TS. Model-for-model that's around £1500 less than the established Europeans - a saving healthy enough to tempt.