THIS week I’ve been mostly using a Kia C’eed to get around – and it’s probably a cliché to even mention it now, but I’ve been rather surprised.
By that, of course, I mean surprised at just how good it is. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how far the brand’s come in the last few years, to some people a Kia will always be something they turn their noses up at.
But more fool them, I say.
Ok, so the C’eed might have the most ridiculously placed apostrophe in the history of car names, but it’s still staggeringly impressive.
Yes, looks wise, it’s not a major head turner – that’s not to say it’s ugly, far from it, it’s just that it’s not going to draw a crowd when you park it up.
Inside it’s functional and very comfortable. The dash is logically laid out, the seats are a bit hard but all the more supportive for it and it drives brilliantly. Steering is direct, it handles well and the suspension copes adequately with the potholed roads that seem to have appeared everywhere.
My test car came with Bluetooth handsfree kit, iPod adaptor (which also charges!), air conditioning and a CD player.
But the best bit is what’s under the bonnet – I haven’t looked, but can only assume it’s two very large hamsters on wheels. That’s the only way I can explain the lack of diesel needed to power it.
The estimator widget on the dash that guesses how many miles you’ve got left in the tank still says I could travel more than 300 miles.
The reason is it’s powered by one of Kia’s EcoDynamics diesel engines – this one is a 1.6-litre CRDi unit that uses stop start technology and other eco gizmos to keep economy pegged at 62mpg on the combined cycle.
But the most surprising bit? It’s in no way boring to drive. Ok, fourth gear at around 35mph labours a little, but you’d never guess it had one of those eco lumps in it unless someone told you first.
I normally like cars with a minimum of 300bhp, rear-wheel drive and to be rather lairy, but this C’eed has won me over. It’s punchy around town, top drawer on the motorway and is actually good fun on country roads.
And I’m even driving differently – more sedate and chilled.
In fact, I’m sold. I even let my mum have a go and she said she wanted to chop in her Soul she bought under scrappage last year for one of these instead. And that’s before I even mentioned it costs just £14,500 – a similar spec Golf is more than £17,500!
Kia has certainly come a long way since I started writing about cars. Couple brilliant motors like this C’eed with that market-leading and still impossible to believe seven-year, pan-range warranty and it’s obvious this is just the start of the marque’s success story.
I’m going to Spain next week to try the baby Venga out and have a feeling it’s going to be another step on.
The motor trade old guard better watch out…