THE South Korean marque’s sales are soaring and its upgraded hatchback should fly out of showrooms, says Frederic Manby
FIVE years on and we’ve got used to two things about Kia. The name of its cee’d hatchback has been (reluctantly) absorbed into the automobile dictionary and the brand has become almost mainstream.
Go back a generation to the last Rio and the current Carens and you’ll see how Kia has got more than a bit of Seat’s “emocion” and Mazda’s “zoom zoom “and galloped ahead of both of them. Kia sales in the first six months this year are ahead by almost 23 per cent, while Mazda dropped almost 14 per cent. Kia’s total was 27,281, almost 10,000 more than Mazda and Volvo and nearly 9,000 up on Seat. Kia is also 3,000 sales up on Skoda, 4,000 plus on Fiat, a thousand ahead of Honda but 4,000 plus behind its sister brand from South Korea, Hyundai – up 11.4 per cent and closing on Renault and Citroen. Tout alors.
The South Korean duo make similar cars using shared structures and even share some European factories which make the cars which are planned in Germany and in South Korea. Both offer long warranties which appeal to buyers who are not cushioned by running a company car.
Most Kias have a Hyundai alternative, most have distinct, individual design and it’s a toss up which to choose. Kia offers a longer warranty (seven years/100,000 miles) while Hyundai’s five-year warranty has no mileage limit and includes roadside assistance but excludes company cars and taxis.
Kia is pouring money into its sales ambitions. There is £700 off some Picanto supermini prices, up to £1,000 off the oddly styled Soul and the butch Rio and £1,600 off the quirky Venga.
There is as much as £3,500 off the outgoing cee’d model and even as much as £1,000 off the new cee’d. Kia has factories outside Europe and Korea and in a year’s time will be able to make 730,000 cars a year in three Chinese joint-ownership factories. Whether it sells them all depends on the Chinese market not melting down.
And so to the cee’d. My test model was the 1.6 diesel which on 100g/km CO2 pays neither annual road tax nor the London Congestion Zone fee. I did take it into the City, but outside the zone payment hours.
Its quoted economy ranges from 67.3mpg urban to 78.5mpg extra urban and 74.3mpg overall. It is no surprise that I got nowhere near those targets but 53mpg on the motorway and 56mpg on a gentle commute are not too shabby. However, a (quiet) Sunday afternoon journey through London gave 38mpg – well below its 67mpg estimate.
On Kia’s own admission this cee’d is much better than the 2007 model – which was Kia’s first bespoke European car. There is so much improvement poured into this 2012 model that in hindsight the original seems a poor relation. The body is 51 per cent stiffer and various other areas have been made stronger and quieter, with attention the windscreen (now bonded), new weather strips in the door apertures and thicker glass in the door windows.
I did several hundred miles in this car and did not return with any bad news. The worst verdict was that there was more noise than I expected around the doors, given all the work Kia has done. Unlike some rivals, Kia does not fit stop-start ignition on all the versions. Also, it does not quite have the driving poise of a Ford Focus – but the gap is getting narrower.
There are trim grades from 1 to 4 and the price champ is the 99bhp 1.4 petrol at £14,395. The other grade 1 models are the 89bhp 1.4 diesel at £15,695 and the 126bhp 1,6 diesel with stop-start ignition at £16,295. This model – on 15-inch (steel) wheels, registers 97g/km of CO2.
Grade 2 (an additional £2,000) is a lot more fun, with 16-inch alloys (raising the CO2 emissions a few gm/km), cornering lights, from LED daytime beacons, folding mirrors when you lock up, cruise and speed limiter, reversing sensors, a rear centre arm rest and rear electric windows, variable rate power steering, leather contact points and cosmetic upgrades.
Moving to grade 3 (£1,800 where offered) brings stacks more kit plus touchscreen navigation and a reversing camera.
Grade 4 and grade 4 tech add even more kit including parallel parking assistance, lane departure warning, on the 4 Tech, plus power leather seats and a glass roof. Top price is £23,795 for the diesel automatic – and buys a lot of car, should you want to put that much into a Kia cee’d. Me, I’d get the nicest BMW 1 series I could afford if I was spending more than £20,000.
It is: Kia cee’d. Good looking second generation five-door family hatch.
From: £14,395 but check for introductory discounts.
Motors: 1.4 petrol and diesel; 1.6 diesel and direct injection petrol.
Economy: From 35mpg in London to 56mpg on a single cross country/urban route.
Automatic gears: Available on the 1.6 engines.
Length: 169 inches (4.3m).
Accommodation: Similar cabin size to a Ford Focus, suitable for a typical family and luggage.
Verdict: Keen pricing and sound build and design makes a Focus look expensive unless you can get the sort of discount Ford gives to fleet buyers. «
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North