Our cars: Kia Ceed - March
Week ending March 22
Driven this week 456 miles
I really like our Kia Ceed. It’s a well-rounded package that’s great value for money. However, I could never live with one every day, for one simple reason – the key.
In most cars, you turn the key to cut the engine and the key then comes straight out of the ignition. In the Ceed, you turn the key as far as it’ll go, but the key stays stuck in the barrel until you push it in and turn it some more. I find this incredibly irritating, and it catches me out every time I drive the car.
Week ending March 15
Driven this week 170 miles
I took another trip in our long-term Ceed the other day - and again it proved how close the Korean brands are now getting to the Germans. Our Ceed is powered by a 126bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel motor that's a bit of a gem; it's got a rattle at start-up, but soon calms down and helps the Kia to be a great long-distance companion. I could easily do a few hundred miles in the Ceed without a moment's concern.
Downsides? I still think the dashboard is a bit too plasticky, with a huge swathe of slightly cheap-looking matt-grey finish that reminds you that you're in the Kia, not the Hyundai. Still, I can't say it was a deal-breaker for me - and other features, such as the monstrous boot, are more important in this class.
Everyone in the car industry seems to keep saying that the Hyundai and Kia are inflicting mortal wounds on the French companies like Peugeot and Renault. Frankly, I think they've already done that and moved on; the Ceed (and i30) are both fine examples of how high the bar is now set.
By John McIlroy
Week ending March 8
Driven this week 280 miles
Few things annoy me more in a car at night than having to endlessly grope around for the USB slot, so I can charge my phone. Fortunately, the Ceed's is easily accessed in a storage bin ahead of the gearlever, instead of being hidden away in a glovebox or under an armrest. It's also nicely illuminated at night by the mood lighting, and sits between the aux and 12-volt sockets.
I didn't need to avail myself of them, opting instead to connect to the Ceed via Bluetooth. These days I stream my music from 'the cloud' when on the move, rather than store anything on my phone. As long as you've got a good mobile phone network (and an unlimited data plan) it can work very well indeed. In fact, on the drive from Dorset to What Car?'s HQ in Teddington, I only lose the mobile signal when passing through the New Forest.
The trouble is, sucking all of this data from the air and then sending it wirelessly to the car's stereo uses a heck of a lot of power. Even with the phone plugged into the Ceed's USB socket for two hours, the battery charge had increased by only 5%. Still, that's better than the experience I had in our long-term Mazda 6; despite being plugged in and apparently charging, I barely got through Copacabana before the phone decided to call it a day.
Week ending March 1
Miles this week: 145
The Ceed is now selling in large numbers car in the UK, and I'm beginning to see quite a few of them on the roads.
My first thought on seeing one is still how handsome it looks, with its swooping nose and kicked up back, particularly amid the other over-familiar shapes on the road. In the early days, seeing another Ceed was rather like belonging to a small club, and I often tried to work out what type of person had bought one. Now, there are quite a few around the fringes of London and into leafy Surrey, and I wondered how many of these are replacing the Hondas, Civic and Jazz, that had previously dominated the roads where I live. My guess is quite a few.
Easy access to efficient dealerships and a deserved reputation for quality had made the Hondas the car of choice for many people in my area. Now the reputation of the Kias has clearly spread, helped by a favourable press and a good-looking range of cars. The fact that they come with that unmatched 7-year warranty, and are still so competitively priced, must have sealed the deal for many, particularly as the latest Hondas seem expensive and a little compromised.
However, I was surprised when checking the Kia dealer network to see they still have so few dealerships, and what they have is relatively widely spaced. This doesn't seem to have put people off buying one, though, and I'm sure as the brand grows (and my word is it growing) so will the dealer network.