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There's a lot to like about the second generation Kia cee'd, but those looking for more of the good stuff will be attracted to the Sportswagon estate model. Offering 528-litres of luggage room with the rear seats upright and 1,642-litres with the rear seats folded, it's got space aplenty.
The cee'd Sportswagon is a vehicle that builds on the hatchback's reputation for exceeding customer expectations. It's a Kia, so you might reasonably expect a few corners to be cut under the surface to make it that little bit more affordable, but check out the sophisticated multi link rear suspension and then look at the more rudimentary torsion beam rear ends of a Renault Megane or a Vauxhall Astra and consider who might have been making savings. Some cars in this class offer the option of an automatic gearbox to augment the standard manual transmissions. Not Kia. They've developed their own dual-clutch sequential transmission.
The body is significantly stiffer than before and the steering system now offers a Flex Steer system for improved driving dynamics. This system delivers three operating modes – Comfort, Normal and Sport – allowing the driver to vary the level of steering assistance and the weight of feedback, in order to best suit the current driving conditions and the driver's personal preferences. We'd expect this sort of thing on an Audi options list, not fitted to a Kia.
Two petrol engines are available- a 1.4 MPI and a 1.6 GDI producing 100 and 135PS respectively. There are also a couple of diesels – a 1.4 WGT with an output of 90 PS and 1.6 VGT diesel offered in two states of tune (110 and 128 PS). Choose the most powerful diesel and you have a car capable of getting to 60mph in around 11 seconds. The direct injection 1.6-litre Gamma GDI petrol engine was introduced in the Kia Sportage and when fitted to the cee'd will punt it to 60mph in around 10 seconds. You'll need this engine if you like the look of that Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT).
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The discipline of turning a family hatchback into a modest estate car doesn't seem, on the face of it, to be too taxing an assignment but look back at some of the designs we've been offered down the years and there have been some proper horror scenes, vehicles that look like normal hatches being mounted by an amorous propagator. Examples include the weirdly broken-backed Citroen BX estate and the unhappy looking Fiat Croma estate.
Kia's cee'd Sportswagon is one of those sensible choices that you might just enjoy making. If you had your eye on the five-door hatch version but felt your growing family perhaps needed a little more room, it'll be just about perfect. And even if you'd had no interest in Kia but came across one of these, you might just be tempted.
For a start, most small estate cars are either deathly dull to look at, not especially spacious inside or inefficient to run. Or all three. This Kia is different. The styling's smart, the practicality's sufficient and the running costs are where they need to be. It feels of high quality inside too and is better equipped than comparable rivals.
In summary, this model is yet further proof that not only has Kia closed the gap on many of its European rivals but has edged past many of them. If you're looking for a small estate car, it'd be wholly remiss to deny the Sportswagon a place on your short list.