Our cars: Kia Ceed - October
Week ending October 26
Driven this week: 224 miles
Read the full Kia Ceed review
I drove our Kia Ceed for the first time this week and came away impressed.
It's pretty good at nearly everything. Take the way it drives: it rides well enough; it's quiet in most situations and on most roads; and the diesel engine is strong and smooth.
There's plenty of space in the cabin and boot, the interior looks pretty swish and the controls are simple. You also get lots of equipment for the money and the after-sales package is excellent.
To cap it all, I think it looks better than the Hyundai i30 it's closely related to.
If you're still not convinced by Kia, try the Ceed – it'll change your mind.
Week ending October 19
Driven this week: 125 miles
Buy a new Kia and you're joining an ever-expanding club.
The Korean firm continues to break its own records for new car sales in the UK: apparently it's just posted its fifth consecutive record month, with more than 11,000 sales in September.
There was nearly one less Kia on the roads this week, however. You take anti-lock brakes for granted these days, but it was this feature that enabled me, last weekend on the A3, to avoid the rear of a Citroen that moved into my path.
Although any emergency stop on a damp surface feels too long, it was at least performed without incident, and, more importantly, gave the driver of the Citroen time to see me and move into the empty middle lane.
There might be more Ceeds on the roads now, but it would still have been a pity to reduce the number of Kias by one.
Week ending October 12
Miles this week: 180
Driven this week: 5250 miles
I've made many mentions of the Kia's rather splendid boot over the past few months; its success resting on its excellent 380-litre capacity. It's more than 30 litres larger than its benchmark rival, the VW Golf, and, although I once failed to fit a moderately sized bicycle in it, it still seems another part of this car worthy of praise.
However, there is now a new VW Golf. Launched this month, it is longer, lower and wider, and its boot is now also 380 litres.
VW are clearly putting the boot in, but Kia shouldn't be too put out – it has just rolled out the new Ceed SW, an estate version of our long-term Ceed.
I took a look round one this week and came away mightily impressed – at 528 litres the boot is huge, and that increases to a whopping 1642 litres with the rear seats folded down. That's a match for the enormous behind of the Mondeo, a car that's closer in size to Belgium than the Ceed SW. Furthermore, accessibility to the SW's boot is excellent, and the smart interior feels equally as spacious as the hatchback's.
So, it seems Kia might have the upper hand, or at least it will until VW launch its estate version of the Golf, due some time in 2013. For now, the SW is worth looking at if you have considered the Ceed, but thought it might be too cramped for your needs.
Week ending October 5
Driven this week: 165 miles
It's great driving a large number of cars at What Car?, but I'm always happy to return to the Ceed. It's an easy car to drive and, although unassuming and almost totally unexciting, everything about it is thoughtfully designed, with the owner/driver's needs in mind.
Admittedly, its steering could be sharper, its seats are a little too firm, and its engine is occasionally a little noisy, but countered against this is the clever design and economy, the useful standard equipment list and the unimpeachable build quality – Kia is still the only manufacturer to offer a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty.
In a way, that is its major selling point, and the one most people ask me about first. Other manufacturers must be confident enough in their products to offer such a thing, but no one else does.
Wait though; did I say unimpeachable build quality? Just when I was learning to love the quality of the Kia, a fault emerged. The driver's door handle has become loose. Not only does it have a lot of play, it can now be pulled out worryingly far, and feels flimsy in the hand. The same is true of the interior door pull on the other side, which also feels loose.
I'm still happy to return to the Ceed – just not so confident now that I'm going to get into and out of it.