TIMING IS everything they say, but no matter what the product, how good it is or how worthy it is of our attention and even affections, it is unlikely to realise its true potential in these financially difficult times if there is a bit of a cost factor involved.
You see examples of it around you at every turn with shops and businesses struggling to keep their doors open, people labouring to get by and to meet their ordinary, every day commitments.
Such thoughts were constantly running through the mind when driving the latest version of the dutiful Kia cee’d. Here is a car that was a game changer for the Korean company when it was launched in 2007 because it thrust the Kia name in among the established brands with a product that was, well, very good.
The cee’d garnered praise from all quarters, not only for its strong looks and good drive, but also an impressive built quality. It was the first time people used Kia and Toyota in the same sentence when talking about build quality and the cee’d ended up finishing fourth in the European car of the year.
Kia never looked back. The company has driven on smartly since. Kia is now the home of the 7-year warranty – a guarantee unmatched by any other brand - which is more than a mere catchy phrase.
Drive the cee’d and you will learn quickly that this 7-year warranty thing is a statement of fact, not fanciful propaganda aimed at selling cars. Companies have to meet certain criteria before advertising something like that, so know that what you are being told is the true.
The way the cee’d is put together is just terrific. You know by the solid feel, by the assured deportment, if you like, of the car on the road, by the neat finish and fit of door and all the internal accessories.
Alas, like many other worthy entrants to the market during these dark days, the cee’d won’t realise its true potential in terms of sales, simply because money is short and hard to get, and as a result the market is depressed.
Prices for the cee’d 5-door start at 18,995 euro (ex-works) for the 1.4-litre TX petrol version.
My drive was in the mid-range 1.6-litre diesel (EX), which is expected to be the No. 1 seller. This unit is a strong puncher, yet is very economical (4.3 l/100km combined cycle) and because of a low C02 figure of 114g/km qualifies for an annual road tax rate of 160 euro.
Both these elements (economy and C02) were key considerations in the development of the engine range. The128ps unit appeared to be very finely turned – or was it that there was very low mileage on it; 1,110klm at the start – and it liked a rousing bit of pedal to give it spark from a standing start.
As we should expect, the cee’d breezed along open roads and motorways, with wind noise at a minimum, an off-shot, no doubt of some inventive work like the fitting of thicker front door window glass and low drag exterior mirror housings.
Kia in Ireland have placed a lot of trust in the diesel market, but then that is not surprising seeing that they are well armed in this department right across the range. New cee’d is available with fuel saving technologies on diesel and petrol models with manual transmissions, including Stop/Star system, low-rolling resistance tyres and an alternator management system (AMS).
Hints from other marques
There is a nice bit of style to the car, with, it appeared to me, hints from Ford (front end and grille), Peugeot (four piece glass areas along the side) and Toyota (that area of the roof at the rear over the window). It all adds up to shapely metal; fresh and modern looking.
The under stated interior is all about practicality, with dark colours predominating. For the driver part of the new standard package is tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment, while iPod, Aux and USB support from part of the package too. Wide opening doors give easy entry to a cabin that offers very good headroom all round and good knee room in the rear.
The cee’d has a good size boot with storage area under the floor mat, and a ‘get you home’ spare wheel below that again. The overall capacity is 380 litres or 1,318 with the rear seat folded.
Overall there is not a lot you could say against the cee’d, which offers front, side and curtain airbags as standard on the range, along with ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, immobiliser, trip computer, Eco shift indicator, Isofix child seat top tethers and anchor fixings, split folding rear seats backs, tinted glass and a host of other goods.
Good car, and worthy of consideration against any of the competition.
Kia cee’d 1.6-litre EX diesel 5-door 23,295 euro.
Engine: 1582 cc, 128ps at 4,000rpm, 260Nm at 1,900 to 2,750rpm.
Transmission: 6-speed manual gearbox.
Top speed: 197kph; 0 to 100kph in 10.9 seconds.
Consumption: 5.2 l/100km (urban); 3.8 (extra urban); 4.3 (combined).
C02 emissions: 114 g/km.
Annual road tax: 160 euro.