Our cars: Kia Ceed - September
Week ending September 28
Driven this week 37 miles
Read the full Kia Ceed review
I swapped my usual Hyundai i30 for database ed Mark's Kia this week so that we could compare and contrast our Korean siblings.
I was surprised – not wholly pleasantly – by how different the two cars turned out to be bearing in mind their common underpinnings. I loved the Kia's sharper looks, inside and out, which make not only the Hyundai but most hatchback rivals look staid by comparison, and noticed even on my town-based commute the extra 17bhp of power the 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine produces.
The good news ended there. The Kia's ride is firmer than the Hyundai's, which means that it fidgets noticeably on pockmarked suburban roads, and I found it much less relaxing to drive as a result. What's more, the quality of the interior fixtures and fittings seemed to lag behind its stablemate's, even though the Hyundai is marginally the cheaper of the pair.
So I'm not unhappy to relinquish the Kia's keys for my car's familiar fob. Although part of me wants to venture further afield in the Ceed to see how its perceived sportiness transfers to the open road, the last week has taught me that I would rather put comfort ahead of speed.
Week ending September 21
Driven this week: 39 miles
If you're a big fan of our Kia Ceed's looks – and I am – then it's a pleasant surprise to find that the cabin is equally welcoming, even on this mid-range Ecodynamics version.
In fact, the environment inside the car is one of its most appealing features. The engine feels a bit sluggish when cruising, and although it's got plenty of power in reserve, it tends to arrive in one lump, which makes for a lot of gearchanges.
By Ed Keohane
Week ending September 14
Driven this week: 101 miles
Read the full Kia Ceed review
I'm occasionally tempted to think our £18,295 Ceed is a bit expensive, but in fairness its list of standard equipment is very impressive.
Our 2-trimmed car has electrically heated and folding door mirrors, four electric windows and, most useful of all, reversing sensors.
It also has front cornering lights: when you turn the wheel sharply at low speed the front foglight on the inside of the corner lights up to give a clearer view of where you're going.
Week ending September 7
Driven this week: 125 miles
Last week's trip to France highlighted the effortless cruising ability of the Ceed, but also brought into focus the occasional frustrations caused by the car's tall gearing.
Back in the UK I had already grown used to urban journeys often being conducted in third gear, because fourth is too high for speeds below 40mph. This initially feels a bit odd, bearing in mind the eco-conscious nature of the eco-dynamic Ceed, but the car is deliberately geared this way in order to achieve its excellent fuel consumption.
However, out on the open highway, and particularly on those French autoroutes, the gearing can prove really tiresome. Do as the shift indicator on the dashboard readout advises, and you'll find yourself changing up to sixth (top) gear at about 60mph. Cruising thereafter is fine, but if you need to lift off the throttle for any reason, gathering pace afterwards can take an age.
To enjoy any sort of acceleration, you'll find yourself having to drop at least one or two gears, and often three. Even then motion in a fully loaded-up Ceed can be painfully slow, and you'll find yourself making full use of the throttle to either keep ahead of the traffic looming large in your rearview mirror, or just to resume the speed you were originally cruising at.
Such full-bore throttle openings aren't good for the fuel consumption, which is the very reason for that long-legged gearing in the first place.