In fact, some manufacturers have actively removed the lowest rung on their trim level ladder due to lack of interest. But should you always spend more to get extra equipment you may never use?
That’s what I’ll establish as I take custody of the cheapest Kia Ceed you can buy new.
Last September, I started running the premium-brand-baiting 1.4-litre First Edition Ceed. For the princely sum of just under £27,000, you get, as I’ve outlined in previous reports, a staggering array of kit for a family hatchback.
But while it was all very nice, I knew that if it was my miraculously earned £27k, I’d want something with a darn sight more than 138bhp. So with a desire to explore just how broad the Ceed’s appeal could be, I went to the other end of the range spectrum – the same spec of Ceed that we compared it with in November last year.
And it seems that Kia has joined the ranks by axing its true base model, with no 1-trim variant for this generation. That means the price jumps by around £3000 to this 2 spec – steep in isolation but in line with where rivals begin now. A quick comparison of contract hire deals shows a saving of around £70 per month by going for the base model.
Unsurprisingly, given the price jump, it doesn’t feel like a base model. You still get a touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (you don’t in a base Ford Focus), cruise control of the non-adaptive variety (which I actually prefer) and lane keep assist (which is turned off immediately on start-up). Heck, there’s even a standard spare wheel – a rarity these days.
You also get more power than you might expect. Whereas a similarly priced Focus or Vauxhall Astra will be lumbered with a sub-100bhp motor, the Ceed 1.0-litre triple makes a healthier 118bhp. For comparison, my old 1.4 had 15% more power for more than £8000 extra.
However, this 1.0 doesn’t have as punchy a mid-range as the very best turbo triples. It needs some revs, both to get it off the line smoothly and to get up to speed.
Fuel economy seems barely better than with the 1.4 on first impressions, with an average of around 45mpg on my gentle commute – reasonable, but not remarkable. The current average is the result of a number of town trips over the Christmas holidays, but I reckon this is one of those cases where a relatively heavy car gives a small-capacity engine a harder time when keeping pace at higher speeds.
With just under 1000 miles covered upon delivery, this engine may loosen up over time, but currently it seems I’ll be mourning the 1.4’s greater balance of power and economy. I won’t be missing that car’s larger wheels, though. As I mentioned in November, the more modest 16in items on this car benefit both ride compliance and road noise.