Having already been impressed by Kia’s second generation cee’d, now it’s the turn of the new Sportswagon. Aimed at small families who need a little extra space in the luggage department this new addition to the cee’d family offers subtle good looks and plenty of additional space behind the rear seats.
When I tested a fully loaded ‘Tech 4′ hatch I felt that although it came loaded with standard equipment it was a little too pricey, and I am convinced lower trim levels would shine more brightly. So here I am testing the most basic trim level logically named ‘1’ to see how it compares.
At a shade under £17,000 the entry level Sportswagon you see here conveniently undercuts its closest rival from Ford by around £600 and Volkswagen by nearly £1500. For the money the cee’d comes with a decent level of equipment including fog lights, air conditioning, electric front windows, remote central locking, Stop Start and body coloured handles and mirrors. If I am being picky, the only features I would like to see would be alloy wheels and cruise control but it’s no hardship.
Clean and modern
The interior of the SW is as equally well thought out as plusher versions with a clean and modern design that still holds plenty of visual appeal. Metal effect highlights and a good choice of soft touch, quality materials give the impression of sophistication.
The driving position is multi-adjustable and all round visibility is impressive.The seats too are well shaped and reasonably comfortable if a little lacking in thigh support on longer journeys.
Space for four adults is ample with plenty of leg, head and shoulder room, an unobtrusive transmission tunnel makes carrying three not unreasonable. Where the SportsWagon excels is behind the rear seats thanks to a well shaped luggage area with a wide opening and low load lip. It offers a class leading 528 litres with the seats in place, expanding to 1642 litres with them folded.
Unsurprisingly the cee’d has the same well resolved styling as the hatch all the way back to the b-pillar, but unusually the rear doors are different from the hatch, enabling Kia to extend the roofline back further without its sibling’s waistline kink. The all-new rear styling is arguably more distinctive than the hatch, and there is an uncanny resemblance to the styling adopted by Audi, but who’s complaining?
Under the bonnet my test car has smaller of two diesel engines making up the petrol-free Sportswagon range. It’s a relatively small 1.4 litre, 16 valve, 4 cylinder unit that develops a modest 89 bhp and 220 Nm of torque between 1,500 and 2,750 rpm.
You would think it would be lacking in power and would need to be worked hard to get the best from it but you would be wrong. It actually copes very well with the task of lugging the cee’d around. It’s far from quick, but it feels surprisingly punchy despite the claimed 13.4 seconds it takes to reach 60 mph. What is notable is how refined the engine is, even at higher speeds and throughout the rev range.
There is little to be sniffed at with rest of the driving experience too. The six speed gearbox is a pleasure to use with a smooth, precise action and the steering seems to offer a little more feel through bends than wider wheeled cee’ds, although it’s still some way off the class best.
Thanks to those modestly sized 15 inch steel wheels the ‘1’ brings a whole new level of comfort, managing to smother everything in its path and gliding along with very little tyre roar.
The chassis isn’t shabby either, although grip levels are reduced a little due to the fuel saving rubber. Push on harder and the well sorted suspension gives in with a little body roll and if you continue to push it understeer rears its head, causing the cee’d to run wide, but it still feels reasonably agile and controllable.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the package are the running costs of the SW. It emits just 109 g/km of CO2, pinching into Band B, costing owners just £20 per annum in road tax. It is also very economical, as I saw between 55 and 60 mpg over a mixture of urban and extra-urban driving.
As an ownership proposition, Kia’s superb seven year warranty provides real peace of mind and reliability has never been an issue for any model to wear the badge.
Price as tested: £16,895
Personal Lease Price: from £181.00 per month
Engine: 1.4 litre 16v 89bhp – 0-62 mph: 13.4 secs – Maximum Speed: 106 mph –
Economy: 56.5 mpg (urban) –73.4 mpg (extra-urban), 67.3 mpg (combined) – Emissions: 109 g/km (Band B) – VED (12 months): £20
Dimensions: Length: 4505 mm – Width: 1780 mm – Height: 1485 mm – Wheelbase: 2650 mm
*data from Kia UK