Our cars: Kia Ceed - January
Week ending January 25
Driven this week: 120 miles
Our Ceed has racked up nearly 9000 miles, but everything about it still looks and feels as good as new. A quick run through a car wash is all that's needed to restore the handsome exterior to its prime, and the interior is standing up well to various passengers and loads.
This week it's proved to be an easy car to drive in the snow. The excellent driving position and good forward visibility help, and its steering, throttle and brakes are easy to modulate, so any slips and slides are easily contained.
Alas, the cold blast has highlighted the tardy responses of our Ceed's heating and ventilation system. It's curiously slow to heat up, and often I've completed short journeys with the interior still feeling as cold as it did when I got in the car.
That's a pity, because in the summer months I'd found the opposite to be true: the air-con did a really quick and efficient job of cooling down a hot interior.
Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi 2 ISG
Week ending January 18
Driven this week: 130 miles
For six months now I've been driving and, for the most part, enjoying our long-term Kia Ceed. Now, though, the day I was dreading has arrived: I've driven the new VW Golf.
We've said that the Ceed's biggest rivals are the Ford Focus and the VW Golf. The Focus I've driven often. It's good, but the Ceed runs it incredibly close; in some areas it beats it hands down.
However, this week I had a go in an equivalent version of the new Mk7 Golf, a 1.6 TDI SE.
At £20,500 it costs £2000 more than our Ceed, but I have to admit, with some reluctance, it's better in nearly every way. It's more refined, steers and handles better, and has a smart and spacious interior (and a boot capacity to match the Ceed).
Performance and economy figures are pretty similar, and the only question mark concerned its ride, because it felt slightly unsettled, where the Ceed had felt more absorbing (this model Golf gets a rear suspension that's lighter and cheaper than more powerful versions).
It's victory to the Golf, but it's not a walkover. Indeed considering how long the Golf has been around in its various guises, and how new the Ceed is, I’m surprised the margin wasn’t greater.
Week ending January 11
Driven this week: 125 miles
Wednesday night’s What Car? Car of the Year Awards in London confirmed the popularity of the little Kia in our office.
We picked the Ceed as our favourite in two categories: a 1.6 CRDi 128 in 1 trim for the best small family car between £16,000 and £18,000, and the 1.4 CRDi 90 1 Sportswagon in the Estate cars costing less than £18,000. It might not have been the overall category winner (victory went to the more expensive Audi A3 in the former, and the much larger Ford Mondeo in the latter) but it was enough to demonstrate how highly we regard this admirable car.
Indeed it was only our long-running favourite the Audi TT that shared the distinction, like the Ceed, of being nominated in two different categories.
Recent experience of both of those nominated versions of the Ceed has made me think that the cheaper but still handsomely equipped 1 trim (ours is in 2 trim) represents better value than our car.
The 1 costs £16,295, as opposed to our long-termer’s £18,295, a useful saving. For a family the Sportswagon is a better bet still, having the same 1 trim, an 89bhp engine just powerful enough to be useful, and far more boot space for a price of £16,895. All versions of the Ceed succeed, but some succeed more comprehensively than others.
Week ending January 4
Driven this week: 249 miles
Christmas Eve, and the suitcases and bags stuffed with presents filled our hallway and stretched into the front room. My wife and I looked at the festive cargo, then at the Ceed outside – and began to panic. Our Christmas awaited 50 miles away in Kent, and it looked like Santa would have to leave some of those precious presents behind.
The Ceed offers 380 litres of boot space, a decent figure for a small family hatchback, but on this occasion not quite enough for us. However, by removing the rear parcel shelf, and folding down one of the rear seats, leaving the two rear passengers sitting rather cosily next to each other, we did manage to fit it all in. We stacked the remaining luggage around the cabin, on laps and under feet, as we had done on our summer holiday trip to France.
On the way back we had as much again, plus an old portable television. Once again we got it all in, but only by employing the same packing technique.
Was it safe? Well, anything heavy that could be flung forward in an accident was contained low down in the footwells, with soft luggage held higher up on laps. Not ideal, perhaps, and not that comfortable. It's a reminder that families might still be advised to look for a car with a bigger boot.