Kia's fine piece of

real estate

Kia cee'd Sportswagon, front
Kia cee'd Sportswagon, front
Kia cee'd Sportswagon, front
Kia cee'd Sportswagon, side
Kia cee'd Sportswagon, rear
Kia cee'd Sportswagon, rear
Kia cee'd Sportswagon, interior

SMOOTH, refined, practical and cheap to run - that's the Kia cee'd Sportswagon.

It's about the size of a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra estate and is just about as good as either of them, but comes with a transferable seven year/100,000 mile warranty - one of the best you can get.

You have to be pretty confident about the reliability of your cars to give that completely free, don't you.

I drove the GT Line close to the top of the range, fitted with Kia's excellent DCT automatic gearbox. This is similar to the excellent VW group DSG gearbox, in that it is a manual with an automatic twin clutch system and it works just as well.

The power unit is a 1.6 turbo diesel boasting no less than 134bhp. That's the highest output I can remember from any 1.6 and it gives the car very good performance while still managing 55 miles per gallon or more in real driving.

The gearbox has seven speeds and the changes are so smooth and swift that I doubt if I could do better with a manual.

There's no ‘Sport' setting, as there is with the VW gearbox, but it does come with a manual setting and paddles behind the wheel to make the changes.

The engine is very smooth, quiet and refined, making it one of the best smaller diesels on the market.

It's truly excellent and has enough urge for easy overtaking. It also pulls very well from low revs, giving good acceleration in sixthgear from just 1,300 revs.

Comfort is also right up with the best in class so that it takes speed bumps with great ease. I took it for a drive along some pretty rough country roads and it smoothed them out beautifully.

The handling is predictable and safe so that it feels good in all situations. Some have said there is not much feel from the steering but I found plenty.

I found the cee'd Sportswagon was composed and well-balance through the corners, with excellent grip giving huge safety and no little fun.

It was exhilarating to drive quickly using the manual gearbox paddles and relaxed in traffic on full automatic.

Comfort is helped by well-shaped hip and back hugging seats and there's plenty of rear legroom, so that five can travel in reasonable comfort. The boot is vast too and should easily carry all their luggage.

FAST FACTS

Price: £23,230

Mechanical: 134bhp, 1,582cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 122mph

0-62mph: 10.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 67

Insurance Group: 13

C02 emissions: 109g/km

Bik rating: 21%

Warranty: 7yrs/ 100,000 miles

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