Kia unlocks fun factor with facelifted cee’d

Kia cee'd range has been facelifted, inside and out, but the highlights are the new sporty-looking G

Kia cee'd range has been facelifted, inside and out, but the highlights are the new sporty-looking GT-Line model and 1.0-litre turbo petrol engines. - Credit: Kia

Many improvements to Kia's cee'd range are not obvious until you drive it but you can't miss the sporty styling of the new GT-Line models, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

You may wonder what all the fuss is about when it comes to the new Kia cee'd range but delve deeper and you'll find quite a lot has changed… and to like.

The five-door hatchback tested here, along with the three-door pro_ceed and cee'd Sportwagon estate, appear to have only had a mild makeover – easily-changed bumpers, lights, grille, wheels and colours and, inside, a few detail touches to enhance perceived quality.

Under the skin, new engines, chassis tweaks to make the cee'd more comfortable and entertaining to drive and new safety and connectivity features make a difference.

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Sporty spice

The big news is the new GT-Line version – hot-hatch looks and cool running costs.

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Based on the flagship 201bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol GT, the eye-catching styling includes a deep front bumper with ice cube-style LED daytime running lights, gloss black mesh grille, sporty back bumper with dual exhausts and gloss black panel, LED rear lights and 17in wheels.

Inside, there's cross-stitch upholstery with grey inserts and sporty leather steering wheel, all highlighted with silver stitching. Add alloy pedals, black leather-look door inserts and gloss black fascia highlight and the GT-Line looks the part.

Under the bonnet

There's still the 'entry' 1.4-litre petrol and turbo diesel engines and 1.6-litre petrol units, but a new, more powerful 134bhp 1.6-litre turbo diesel is also offered with a twin-clutch seven-speed gearbox.

Kia also joins the growing number of manufacturers down-sizing engines with a new 1.0-litre, ecoTurbo three-cylinder petrol unit in 99 and 118bhp states of tune. They are designed to cut fuel consumption and emissions by up to 15%, against traditional 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol engines, and are part of Kia's aim to replace 70% of naturally-aspirated units with smaller, fuel-efficient alternatives.

Small but perky

The cee'd GT-Line gets the 118bhp 1.0-litre which is surprisingly flexible in urban traffic with maximum torque from 1,500rpm. On the open road, it needs to be in the mid-range before it feels peppy but the light six-speed manual gearbox adds to the fun of keeping the engine in the sweet spot. It will happily hit 70mph in third, bringing out the throaty exhaust note, and cruise quietly at that speed in top gear.

Compared to rival 1.0-litre units, it's a little off the pace for economy and emissions with mixed driving returning 40 to 48mpg.

How it drives

GT-Line uses the standard cee'd suspension which has been modified for a quieter, more compliant ride and sharper handling, with torque vectoring braking the inner front wheel to minimise understeer in hard cornering. The power steering has been retuned for better feel and most models have variable comfort, normal and sport modes.

The cee'd corners confidently and competently, feeling stable and composed through corners, but the ride remains sensitive to rough road surfaces but it's more apparent from of the tyre noise.

Inside the cabin

The well-finished cabin is spacious enough to carry four six-foot adults with ample leg and headroom in the back.

It's not at the expense of a well-shaped boot space with up to 380 litres. Lay the 60/40 split rear seats down and there's up to 1,318 litres but the cushions have to be lifted for seats backs to fold flat. An underfloor tray on my test was ideal for storing an ice-scraper and de-icer.

The driving position has good adjustment and the fascia a quality, cohesive feel where you see and touch it. It's easy on the eye and to operate, especially that high-level touch screen.

Chunky rear pillars hinder rear visibility, despite glass panels, but large mirrors, reversing sensors and a reversing camera on my test car overcame any obstacles.

Full marks for cabin storage and thoughtful touches like two 12-volt charging points as well as a USB port and auxiliary point.

Final say

The cee'd is the car that saw people start taking Kia seriously, and it just gets better and better. In the past, for all its practical appeal and pricing, there have been compromises against big-volume rivals but this new generation's technology and powertrains has closed the gap. And that seven-year warranty could be the deal-swinger.

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