Time to open eyes to the value of the sportswagon

The smart looking and versatile new Kia Sportswagon
IT IS almost as if we are conditioned in this country when thinking about a car to focus in on a saloon or hatchback. The bigger space offering estates are very often an after thought, if they are considered at all, and that is even when looking for a used car, writes John Knox.

IT IS almost as if we are conditioned in this country when thinking about a car to focus in on a saloon or hatchback. The bigger space offering estates are very often an after thought, if they are considered at all, and that is even when looking for a used car, writes John Knox.

Puzzling that, because the continentals have long since cottoned on to value of the estates and they have a greater appreciation of the versatility and space such vehicles offer to the family owner as much as the business traveller.

The blind attitude here is all the more surprising when you consider the many fine estate cars that are on offer.

Why should such an attitude prevail? Is it that people fear the drive might be compromised too much? It is that the estate might be too difficult to manoeuvre? It is price? What?

Those were some of the thoughts that came to mind when shooting around in the handsome Kia cee’d Sportswagon, which is what Kia call their estate. Here is a most attractive, very well built car – Kia is the home of the 7-year warranty, remember - with many alluring and practical features, yet it is destined to lose out in the consideration stakes to less able saloons or hatchbacks.

Broaden horizon

We make the point simply to urge people to broaden their horizon more when buying; remembering that the landscape is broader than the hatchback, saloon or MPV sectors.

My drive was in the strong punching cee’d Sportswagon 1.6 litre diesel. Before we get into anything about the car I would like to make a general observation.

I had the Sportswagon during some of the bitterly cold weather. What I found striking about the cabin was that on the very cold mornings it warmed up quickly. This wasn’t my imagination working overtime.

In previous weeks I had noticed that the interior of some other cars were slow to heat up. I live around five miles from the ’City, and some days I could be well into the journey before the cabin temperature improved. With the Kia we had heat in half the time.

A simple observation! That surprised, especially when considering the roomier interior of the Sportswagon.

Anyway, the Sportswagon and its ilk have a lot to do with the provision of space and the versatility they offer owners. There is plenty of legroom and headroom for all passengers to travel in comfort in this cee’d.

The luggage compartment offers 528-litres of room, which can be stretched to a massive 1,642 litres when the 60/40 split rear seats are folded down.

Ease of loading

The design of the tailgate is that it has been moved further into the roof, which allows for a bigger opening for ease of loading and unloading.

There is an additional deep and narrow cavity under the floor at the back, near the tailgate, with further storage space behind. Overall, with these units included, Kia reckon the Sportswagon offers nearly 40% more space than its 5-door hatchback brother.

The 128bhp engine is punchy. Actually I would class it as a great engine, because it is extremely compliant to the orders of the driver. When you ask, it responds.

This is not a big cumbersome vehicle. Mums, or dads, who might have concerns in this area, need not worry.

The interior of the Spacewagon is geared more to the comfort needs of the family rather than anything else. My car was gold coloured. The two tone coloured seats – charcoal and light grey with a fleck in the back support section of front and rear seats – contrasted nicely with the colour of the exterior.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a woman’s hand was involved somewhere in the design here, because the mix is most interesting.

The dials and controls flow in a neat line across in front of the driver, which means all information is available with a quick sweep of the eyes.

The Spacewagon is available with 1.4 or 1.6 diesel engine options. Prices begin at 22,450 euro.

Features on the range include – Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, 6-speaker system RDS radio/CD audio with MP3 disc compatibility, central locking, driver seat height adjustment, air con, electric mirrors, six airbags, hill assist control, 2 x 12v power sockets, cooling glovebox, roof rails, tinted glass.

The car

Kia cee’d 1.6 EX diesel 24,850 euro.

Engine: 1,582cc, 128 bhp, 16-valves, 260Nm at 1,900 to 2,750rpm.

Tranmission: 6-speed manual.

Top speed: 193kph; zero to 100kph in 11.2 seconds.

Fuel consumption: 5.5l/km (urban); 4.0 (extra urban); 4.5 (combined).

CO2: 117g/km.

Annual road tax: 200 euro.