Ceed signals a new

success story

Kia Ceed, front action
Kia Ceed, front action 2
Kia Ceed, front static
Kia Ceed, side action
Kia Ceed, dashboard
Kia Ceed, front seats
Kia Ceed, boot
Kia Ceed, rear action
Kia Ceed, rear action 2

IT'S a question owners of one of Kia's most successful cars has been asking for years.

What exactly does the model name Ceed mean?

Now, as the popular family hatchback enters its third generation, it can be revealed that the letters actually stand for Community of Europe with European Design.

One in the eye for Brexit perhaps.

The label makes sense though because the Ceed - originally spelled with an apostrophe that's sensibly now been dropped - was Kia's first model to be both designed and built in Europe.

And the fact that it was also the car to herald Kia's still industry-leading seven-year warranty back in 2006 underlines what a pivotal offering this is for the Korean brand.

The latest version, on sale this week from £18,295, is based around three engines, two transmissions plus four trim lines and is new from the ground up with a dollop of fresh tech.

There will also be a whole family of new Ceed variants to follow over the next 18 months, including a more sporty GT model, a Sportswagon and a Shooting Brake.

For now though the five-door hatchback leads the way, following in the tyre prints of two previous generations that notched more than 1.3 million global sales.

This is no 'Plain Jane' family car either - the new Ceed is low-slung and streamlined, offering more headroom in the front and better shoulder space in the rear.

It also features ice cube-style LED daytime running lights as standard, a wider 'tiger nose' grille, a subtle rear spoiler and a 395-litre boot.

Move inside and the clean, simple split-level dash area has higher quality soft touch materials than previously, along with effective touches like pin-sharp dials and instruments.

Beneath the bonnet there's a choice of petrol and diesel engines, comprising an uprated version of Kia's 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine producing 118bhp plus an all-new 1.4-litre unit developing 138bhp.

For diesel devotees there's a new 1.6 CRDi with low CO2 emissions of 99g/km and the potential for almost 75 miles per gallon.

This engine is only available with six-speed manual transmission and in entry grade '2' trim and mid-range '3' grade variants.

We tried this unit in a '2' spec model on an extensive test exercise from Zilina in Slovakia where the Ceed is built.

The route wended its way through 95 miles of spectacular scenery up to the High Tatras mountains close to the Polish border.

While most of the roads were of top notch quality some were quite steepy cambered and uneven, bringing the best out of the Ceed's dynamics which resulted in a smooth, well balanced ride.

Sharp and swift, the Kia was a joy to drive, the 1.6 diesel proving so silent you would never have guessed it was an oil-burner. The seven-speed DCT auto gearbox was also seamless.

The return journey, in a model featuring the 1.4-litre petrol engine, also revealed the Ceed to be a strong and comfortable performer.

In flagship First Edition trim, this version included more standard kit than the models from lower down the pecking order.

Chief among them is Lane Following Assist which tracks vehicles in front of the Ceed in traffic and identifies spaces in other lanes to gain more ground in heavy congestion.

Buyers also get Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Blind Spot Collision Warning, Smart Parking Assist and pedestrian recognition.

Even the entry grade '2' comes extensively equipped and includes several features that are often an extra cost option on rival cars - like cruise control with speed limiter, front wiper de-icer and air-con.

The new Ceed certainly represents another step forward for Kia, a modern brand that has expanded to the point that it now has a heritage fleet based at the Zilina plant.

In tandem with sister company Hyundai it is now the world's No 4 car producer by volume - a position few would have predicted when the little Kia Pride crept onto the UK new car scene in 1991.

The new Kia Ceed costs from £18,295 for the ‘2' 1.0 T-GDi 6-speed manual model rising to £26,850 for a First Edition' 1.4 T-GDi 7-speed DCT. Diesels start at £19,545 for the ‘2' 1.6 CRDi 6-speed manual.

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