Kia’s ability to suc-Cee’d

Iain Dooley checks out Kia's value-added and versatile Cee'd SW estate.

Engines – With engine choice roughly evenly split between petrol and diesel, there's enough choice to satisfy a wide range of buyers. Low-mileage users will likely warm to the quiet yet willing performance of the petrol units, while those seeking to make the Cee'd SW earn its keep will see the added value in the more frugal diesels. And, contrary to many misconceptions, Kia's oil-burners are easily a match for anything from a European car-maker.

Exterior – Compact estate cars sometimes struggle to find favour in today's market thanks to the increasing popularity of similarly-sized people-carriers. Far from being just a box on wheels, the Cee'd SW boasts a rakish and streamlined profile that easily trumps all those high-rise, slab-sided multi-purpose vehicles.

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Interior – With every new generation of Kia car comes a noticeable and sizeable shift upwards in quality. The Cee'd range is no different, and the recent facelifted models in particular demonstrate a level of fit and finish that's equal to most European rivals. Cabin space is also good, and it goes without saying that the car's load bay is particularly accommodating. Fold the rear seats down and you've got yourself a posh van for the really heavy-duty tasks.

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Driving – Like its appearance and overall quality ambience, the Cee'd SW's performance on the road will also surprise you. Delivering a solid, refined and engaging drive, both the petrol and diesel engines prove willing both in and out of town. A hushed cabin ensures that long-distance travel is never tiring, too. With automatic engine stop-start on certain models, the eco angle is also covered.

Ownership – With the car's modest asking price and choice of frugal engines, Cee'd SW ownership has the potential to be budget motoring without a catch. The car's cabin and load bay are both durable enough to be used hard, while its size makes navigating the urban jungle a breeze. And, with generous levels of standard kit available when new, there's no need to slum it day-to-day.

What to look for – For all the Cee'd SW's hardy credentials it's still important to pay close attention to the car's appearance inside and out. If used as its maker intended, expect to see damage around the rear load lip. Damage to upholstery and cabin trim materials is also possible. Kerbed wheels and parking dents will be another concern and could hide more serious signs of neglect, which makes the test-drive and evidence of a full service history essential on what is a reasonably new car.

Model history – 2007, Kia added SW estate variant to critically-acclaimed Cee'd hatchback range. Shares same engine line-up of small-capacity petrol and diesel engines, plus similarly generous levels of standard equipment – air-conditioning, CD player, MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity, alloy wheels and numerous airbags.

Reasons to buy – Good value, practical, easy on the eye, low running costs.

Reasons to beware – Badge snobbery, high wear-and-tear rate, patchy service history.

Pick of the range – Cee'd SW 1.6 GS.

What to pay – 2007 07 �5,600; 2007 57 �5,900; 2008 08 �6,725; 2008 58 �7,175; 2009 09 �7,875; 2009 59 �8,325. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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