Kia’s new cee’d takes a drive up Quality Street

The new Kia cee'd represents a giant leap forward for the brand.


A much-improved interior makes this Kia a quality contender.

As the second generation of Kia’s cee’d hits our showrooms,  wheelworldreviews editor DAVID HOOPER says the new model is more than a big step forward – it’s a giant leap!

NEW cars are being launched all the time, but it’s distinct rarity to be able to road test the old and the new and make direct comparisons between the two in a review.
Thanks to a combination of circumstances on this occasion, however, that is exactly what I was able to do with two generations of the Kia cee’d – and the difference is night and day. This new model isn’t so much a big step forward for the brand – it’s a giant leap!
The second generation of the car which played a major part in transforming Kia into a mainstream player in the UK is now on sale and the company chose the picturesque setting of Lake Geneva to introduce the new model to the UK’s motoring Press.
Transport issues found me travelling to London’s Heathrow Airport in one of the current cee’d models, so my back-to-back test drives of the old and the new clearly demonstrated the progress that has been made.
The refinement and sheer quality of the new cee’d compared to the old model moves Kia up not one level, but several in my opinion, putting it on a par with some of the best cars in this class, taking the fight to the Ford Focus, Seat Leon and even Volkswagen’s Golf.
What sets the cee’d apart, and no doubt in some customers’ eyes ahead of those rivals, is Kia’s seven year 100,000-mile warranty, which is transferable from owner to owner, offering unbeatable peace of mind.
The new car has a sound base upon which to build, having sold 55,000 examples in the UK, and like its predecessor, it is designed in Europe, for Europe
The outline of the new model reminds me of a SEAT, while the family front-end looks almost like that of a Jaguar XF from some angles.
The new cee’d will be offered in four trim grades in the UK, following Kia’s established principle of 1, 2, 3 and 4, with the option of a 4 Tech version of the top model.
Standard equipment levels are good and include today’s essentials such as Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, steering wheel-mounted controls, air conditioning, electric windows, mirrors and so on.
There is also plenty of gadgetry to assist the driver with hill starts, emergency braking and skid control in the shape of a standard electronic stability programme.
Further up the range you get alloy wheels, leather seats, an electronic parking brake, keyless entry and climate air conditioning and a multi-function LCD display.
The range-topping 4 Tech model adds such luxuries as a panoramic sunroof, parallel parking assist and Xenon headlights.
Under their bonnets, customers have the choice of 1.4 or 1.6-litre petrol or diesel engines. Fuel consumption has been improved by around 4% across the board and the 1.6-litre diesel model’s C02 figure is down to just 97g/km.
The most powerful engine in the range is the 1.6-litre petrol engine with direct fuel injection, which packs a 133bhp punch and 164Nm of torque. This version of the car can be ordered with Kia’s new DCT, or double-clutch transmission gearbox which can be used either as a conventional automatic, or with manual changes via paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.
All manual versions of the car come with Intelligent Stop & Go, or ISG, which turns the engine off in traffic when the car is taken out of gear and the clutch pedal released, instantly restarting again when the clutch pedal is depressed.
The new cee’d range starts from a very competitive £14,395, but rises to almost £24,000 for the range-topping 4 Tech model, which I think is still a bit steep for a Kia customer – at least until the word gets round about how much of an improvement this car is.
The new cee’d looks good on the road, and although we endured some miserably wet Swiss weather which denied us most of the lakeside views, the car handled the wet conditions very well. It always felt sure-footed and I had no complaints about the driving experience.
The interiors, even in the mid-spec cars we tested on the launch, have a classy, quality look and feel to them. Gone are the hard plastics, having been replaced by a far more tactile soft touch variety.
We also had a brief drive in the new twin-clutch equipped model, which felt very plush with its large panoramic sunroof – something of a rarity in this class of car.
The DCT gearbox worked very well – the changes are seamless and impressively smooth, yet still allow the driver to get involved should they feel the need to do so, by taking control of the paddles behind the steering wheel.
To sum up then, the new cee’d has raised Kia’s game markedly in the UK. In the six years since its launch, the outgoing cee’d laid the foundations for Kia to become a serious contender in Britain. The second generation of the cee’d will build on those foundations and attract yet more new customers to this rapidly improving brand.
If they haven’t already, Ford and Vauxhall had better start taking note – Kia is coming!

Influences from various other cars are evident in the new cee'd's styling.

Rating: ★★★★★★

MODEL: Kia cee’d
BODY STYLES: 5-door hatchback
ENGINES: 1.4 and 1.6 petrol or diesel.
GEARBOXES: 6-speed manual, automatic or DCT.
TRIM GRADES: 1, 2, 3, 4, 4 Tech
PRICES: From £14,395 to £23,795
• All data correct at time of publishing.

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The rear of the car bears more than a passing resemblance to a SEAT.