Revamped Kia Cee’d has plenty of bells and whistles for the money

The names Peter Schreyer and Luc Donckerwolke might not mean much to the average Joe or Josie, but in the world of automotive design, they are hallowed legends.

Revamped Kia Cee’d has plenty of bells and whistles for the money

Both men — German and Dutch respectively — learned their trade within the VW Group, Schreyer mainly with Audi and Donckerwolke with Bentley, Lamborghini, and Audi.

They are now the men in charge of design at the Korean manufacturer Kia and in recent times, such was Schreyer’s success in turning the company’s products from bland, anonymous Asian nondescripts into modern and innovative eye-catchers, he was recently appointed to head up the design function at sister company Hyundai, so jealous were they of his achievements.

Given that Schreyer was originally responsible for machines such as the Audi TT — described by some as one of the most influential car designs of all time — he came to dull old Kia in 2006 and all of a sudden the company was producing cars such as the Soul, the Optima, the Cee’d, the Sportage and the Sorento, all of which were credited with giving the company new zip and appeal.

Most recently he penned the new Hyundai Tuscon which is posting gang-buster sales across the globe and is currently the best-selling car in Ireland. It is his work with Kia however which has garnered most praise and the latest of his creations for the brand is the face-lifted (but still curiously named) Cee’d, their contender in the medium sized family car segment and one which has made modestly impressive waves in most European markets.

Not perhaps to the same extent as the very similar Hyundai i30 with whom it shares many components.

I have always felt the Kia to be a much prettier contender than the Hyundai and while in volume terms it will not bust the nuts of such as the VW Golf or Ford Focus, it is having enough of an impact for Kia to want to extract more from its’ sales performance.

Thus we have this new car, which is refreshed both visually and mechanically and is now — for the money — a considerably better sales prospect than before. Having previously relied on diesel sales — particularly in Ireland — Kia has added a new string to the Cee’d’s bow with a new three cylinder petrol engine and a new, fresh and engaging look.

Having driven the car recently in GT-Line spec, I have to say I came away quite enthused about it and that is not something I can say always happens with medium sized Asian cars. Not only were the look and feel of the car pleasing, but the new petrol engine is a little firebrand as well.

Outputting some 120 bhp at 6,000 rpm and decent enough torque of 171 Nm at 4,000 rpm, the figures might suggest you have to flog it a bit to extract the most from it but, believe me, it is not the chore it might seem.

This is a willing and enthusiastic engine whose diminutive one litre size is boosted by the presence of a turbocharger which helps give it a top speed of 190 kph and an 11.1 second 0-100 kph time.

Not startling figures, I’ll admit, but when you work this thing through the standard six speed ’box, it proves itself to be a fiery little thing whose abilities around town and on the open road are not stinted by its’ size. It will also return 4.9 l/100 km (57.6 mpg) and emits only 115 g/km for a €200 annual tax bill.

With the chunky GT-Line bodykit which adds an egg-crate grille and various other styling appendages to the new front and rear bumpers and light clusters, it is very easy on the eye and although something of a sheep in wolf’s clothing, I doubt that will matter to owners who are rightly drawn to its’ endearing looks.

Although not as much as a class-leader as, say, the Focus in the handling department, it is not bad at all and copes well with Irish road conditions while the ride is supple and easy on the passengers. it also provides notably comfortable seats, not something Eastern brands are particularly noted for.

A good car then and one which, for the money, provides a lot more bells and whistles than you might reasonably expect. For anyone in this market it is one not to be overlooked and it is a credit to Messrs Schreyer and Donckerwolke.

COLLEY’S VERDICT

The Car: Kia cee’d

The Cost: from €19,965 to €22,550 as tested.

The Engine: A new little petrol firebrand which is a decent enough on performance and economy.

The Specification: Surprisingly good for the money.

The Overall Verdict: This will rattle a few of its competitors.

Star Rating: ****

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