What is it?
This is the facelifted Kia Cee’d SW. The mid-sized estate only went on sale two years ago and already the Korean firm has made some changes cosmetically and under the skin.
When the original Cee’d came out, it was praised for its excellent value and superb seven-year warranty (which remains), but it was let down by its harsh ride. The latest model features a re-worked suspension set-up, which has been tuned on UK roads to improve its handling and ride characteristics.
The facelift gets the firm’s new family grille – known as the Schreyer grille, after Kia’s chief designer Peter Schreyer – new trim levels and a redesigned interior. The model tested here is the 113bhp 1.6-litre CRDi model in mid-range 2 trim, expected to be the second biggest SW seller after the stop-start-equipped ISG model.
What’s it like?
Impressive. Our test route consisted of around 75 miles of driving in Lancashire taking in country lanes and town centres, as well as motorways and B-roads. The Cee’d SW is always going to be a car bought for practicality rather than driver enjoyment, but Kia has made progress in the ride quality thanks to the reworked suspension.
The SW keeps the Macpherson strut layout at the front and multi-link set-up at the rear, but the springs have been softened and the shock absorbers and anti-roll bars stiffened. Although not class leading, the SW’s ride is improved at both low and high speeds.
Around town it can still lean towards the harsh side, but up to speed on the motorway it is more than capable of absorbing bumps and eating miles with minimal fuss. Before signing the new Cee’d off, Kia had it assessed by Lotus and Porsche, who both noted the improvements over the outgoing model – we would agree with their sentiments.
The 1.6-litre diesel unit is a bit too noisy around town, but it is more than powerful enough to help the SW keep up with the traffic. Its healthy 173lb ft of torque is available from 1750rpm, which means it should be capable of carrying the larger loads required of an estate car without blunting the performance too much.
Another addition to this model is a new six-speed manual 'box, which replaces the five-speed unit in the outgoing car. The sixth ratio is most welcome on the motorway, as it turns the Cee’d into a quieter and more refined prospect. It also helps with the combined fuel economy, which is claimed to be 61.4mpg, although it averaged around 50mpg on our route. We would expect this figure to improve once the engine has been properly worn in.
Aside from that seven-year warranty, the SW also trumps all its main rivals on boot space. Mid-sized estates are cars bought for practicality and the SW excels at this – with the seats up, it holds 534 litres and with the seats down, 1664 litres. Kia’s main rivals – in its own words – are the estate versions of the Ford Focus, Renault Megane, Hyundai i30 and Vauxhall Astra. Only the i30 can beat it on price, but none match it on boot space. Its closest rival is the recently-launched Megane Sports Tourer, which holds 520 litres seats up and 1600 litres seats down.
The interior, too, is an improvement over the original. The outgoing Cee’d had a white goods feel to it, but the new centre console, steering wheel and gear knob give the Cee’d a more premium aura. The driving position and seats are both comfortable, while standard equipment is also good, with air-con, electric windows, 16-inch alloys and iPod connectivity all featuring as standard.