It’s the accepted norm in this motoring review business that manufacturers will load top-of-the-range test cars with every extra on the list, in an effort to blind hacks like me to their product’s shortcomings. A little bit of leather here, a splash of chrome there, can make a lemon seem like a limousine.
So hats off to Kia for sending Scotsman Motoring the cheapest Cee’d estate money can buy – a 1.4-litre diesel in entry-level “1” trim. At £16,895, it offers a lot of space for not too much money, but is shorn of some – not all – of the trinkets that might turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse.
If you’re in the market for a Cee’d estate (or Sportswagon, as Kia calls it), there’s a good chance you’ll overlook the steel-wheeled, cloth-seated 1. Instead, your eye will be drawn to posher Cee’ds and the fancy alloys, leather upholstery and technicolour satnav screens they offer.
More fool you. I’ve driven a couple of hundred miles in the 1 now and at no time did its steel wheels with plastic covers feel less round than alloy wheels. The fabric upholstery kept its cool after an afternoon parked in direct sunlight and, because I wasn’t going anywhere I haven’t been before, which is usually the case, I didn’t pine for satellite guidance.
Not that the 1 is what you’d call poverty-spec: standard kit includes air conditioning, Bluetooth for your phone, a CD player, hill-start assist, engine stop-start and six airbags. The dashboard plastics don’t look cheap and they don’t rattle or squeak. The instrument layout is clear, with buttons on the steering wheel to control the stereo, phone and trip computer. No parking sensors or cruise control, though, which might sway your decision.
Legroom in the back is among the best in class, and the boot is massive too – 528 litres, or 1,642 litres with the back seats down, plus an underfloor storage compartment for valuables or muddy boots.
The suspension is tuned for comfort rather than a white-knuckle ride and, although the 89bhp 1.4 turbo-diesel is a snappy enough performer, with mid-range urge that belies its modest capacity, it’s no ball of fire and there’s a total lack of action if you ask it to speed up from below 1,500rpm.
The upshot of this modest performance is marvellous economy. As well as returning a claimed 67.3mpg (we’re showing mid-50s at the moment, and rising), the 1.4 diesel benefits from Group 6 insurance and 20-quid-a-year VED.
My only gripe with the car is its name. Calling the Cee’d estate a Sportswagon is a tiny bit optimistic, unless your idea of sport involves nothing more adrenaline-inducing than a game of Scrabble with granny.
Instead, use the Sportswagon as a holdall for your sporting goods – mountain bikes, surfboards, granny’s bungee ropes – and you might escape enduring the mirth of friends.
CAR Kia Cee’d Sportswagon 1 Ecodynamics 1.4 CRDi
PERFORMANCE Max speed 106mph; 0-60mph 13.4secs
MPG (combined) 67.3
CO2 EMISSIONS 109g/km