The Cee'd is planted
I collected the car from Wessex Kia in Bristol (0845 126 4826), where the car was waiting behind a rope on a red carpet; Kia customers might not be paying a fortune, but they still get to feel special. Branch manager Nick Vaughan showed me around the car and explained how to connect my iPod, too.
It wasn't long after my return to the office that I had a queue of colleagues waiting to borrow the Kia. Estate cars are always popular with the What Car? team: it's one thing to want to turn heads or dazzle our friends, but most of us are more likely to need to do a trip to the tip, move house, or take the family on holiday. From removals van to airport taxi, the Kia played its part brilliantly.
It's not just a question of size, although that was seriously impressive beating much bigger and more expensive cars such as the Volkswagen Passat, Renault Laguna or Mercedes C-Class estates for boot space with the rear seats in place or folded flat.
Clever design was the boot's other winning point. The tailgate hinge was set far back into the roof, to allow opening no matter how closely the car behind was parked. The high roofline made loading large items easy even for taller people, as we found out while squeezing a chunky two-seater sofa into the car.
For times when the main body of the boot wasn't enough, we were always able to turn to the extra 55 litres of space under the boot floor perfect for hiding valuables, then forgetting where you've put them.
The Cee'd SW would almost have worked as a spare bedroom, but we did manage to drive it sometimes, too. I never regretted choosing the lower-powered engine. True, 89bhp might not sound impressive, but the engine always made the best of its power, with perky performance and decent economy.
We managed an average of 48.1mpg over the year, and did more than 50mpg on the most economical journeys. That was some way off the promised 57.6mpg average, but with so many of my trips being short runs around town it wasn't so surprising.