Kia Cee'd EcoDynamics Driven

Dressed in a sharp new suit, Kia's second generation Cee'd certainly looks the part, but there's also substance to match the style.

European by Design

Currently undergoing a brand transformation the magnitude of which is rarely seen in the automotive world, Kia believe that the second generation Cee'd showcases everything the company knows about automotive design. It's not hard to tell, either.

The 2012 Cee'd marks an aesthetic improvement over the original car that could have easily taken sixteen years instead of six, and even that wasn't exactly a bad looking car. Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer's arrival from Volkswagen came a little late to influence the first generation car, but now, along with Kia's European design chief Gregory Guillaume, the pair have injected a marked and decisive design language into Kia's popular hatchback.

Narrower and lower than its predecessor, the new Cee'd also sits closer to ground. It's sporty intentions are emphasized further by steeply raked A-pillars and cab-forward stance that immediately sets it apart from its C-segment rivals. The Cee'd's sportier stance can also be attributed to the significant widening of both the front (17mm) and rear (32mm) tracks.

Something that Schreyer is particularly proud of is that this production car so closely resembles the original clay model. This is because the design team originally spent “more time working on the proportions than the details”, said Guilliaume before this year's Geneva Motor Show. “We believe in getting the proportions, volumes and surfacing right. If you achieve that, it speaks for itself in the manner of a simple black cocktail dress”. 

Kia have also spent over 100 hours with the Cee'd in the wind tunnel – something that has helped contribute to it's impressively low drag-coefficient of 0.30 (for reference, Porsche's slippery new 911 has a Cd of 0.29). The front and rear lights bear the fruit of these hours in the wind tunnel, both featuring sculpted plastic lenses designed to guide air around and off the car. The crease in the rear light even flows into the metal rear three-quarter panel, such is Kia's uncompromising approach to designing this car.

Attracting the most attention, and winning the plaudits, is the Cee'd's heavily revised front graphic. Featuring Kia's latest interpretation of the 'tiger-nose' grille, the front graphic also features wrap-around headlights which house tasteful daytime running LED strips. The bonnet sports two character lines that flow into the A-pillar from the grille – one following the curvature of the headlights and the other mirroring it further out into the bonnet panel. Details like these make the Cee'd worthy of praise, and combined they add up to make the car fluent and well very resolved.

In comparison to the front, the rear graphic is strangely uninspiring. A raked rear-windscreen continues the sporty trend and, thankfully, there's no gargantuan black plastic bumper either. But the Cee'd's ovoid derrière is cumbersome in regard to the car's chiseled snout, and that's a shame, because the Cee'd is so nearly comprehensively brilliant to look at.

A wedge-like silhouette, combined with a low belt-line and aggressive stance lend the Cee'd an unexpected vibe of authority and competence, and it should be regarded as a major coup that Kia have aesthetically upstaged many of their more prestigious rivals with a bold and individual design.

EcoDynamics Technology

Kia's Ecodynamics technology make this 1.6-litre CRDi the most environmentally friendly Cee'd currently at market. Fitted with ISG, Kia's stop/start system, CO2 emissions are just 100g/km and fuel economy of 65mpg can be reached on a day-to-day basis. And whilst 100g/km CO2 emissions are no longer exceptional, the 1.6-litre engine still manages to produce 126bhp, which compares favorably with rivals. Although a little gruff, the 4-cylinder diesel engine is a strong powerplant with plenty of torque. The overall driving experience, however, is unreservedly inert.

Kia's environmental efforts extend further than the machinery, however, and the company's policy of building cars in the markets where they will be sold reduces the distance that finished cars have to be transported. Furthermore, 75% of the parts used in the plant that makes the Cee'd in Žilina, in the Upper Vah region of Slovakia, are sourced from within Western Europe.

At just £18,295, the combination of striking good looks, an honest and well-built interior, and competitive economy make the Cee'd a compelling package as a spacious 5-door hatchback. Kia still have a little way to go, mainly in terms of driver involvement, before they can genuinely be mentioned in the same sentence as Volkswagen and Ford's engaging Focus, but if the established brands haven't yet felt Korean breath on their necks, they certainly do now.

Kia Cee'd 1.6 CRDi '2'

Engine: 1582cc 4-cyl diesel Power: 126bhp @ 4000rpm Torque: 192ft lb @ 1900 0-60mph: 11.5s Top speed: 122mph CO2 emissions: 100g/km Fuel economy: 74.3mpg combined Price: £18,295

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