THE all-newKiaCeed has just gone on sale and it has gained class but lost weight and that confusing apostrophe.
Designed engineered and built in Europe theCeedis a very important part of the Korean company's family as the hatchback has sold over 1.3 million unitssincethey started building it in Slovakia with over 130,000 of them finding homes in the UK.
New from the ground up theCeedis available in 11 variants based on three engines, two transmissions and four trim lines. More choices will become available in the not too distant future.
Ceedapparently stands for Community of Europe with European Design but if you can get over that boring label the new hatchback offers a leap in quality, safety and style.
The newcomer has roughly the same dimensions as its predecessor but it is slightly lower and wider. It now looks more athletic than before but is still instantly recognisable as aCeed.
It keeps the 'tiger-nose' grille and it is wider than before with a lower air intake and the front also features 'ice-cube' LED running lights as standard across the range echoing the appearance of earlier GT and GT-Line models.
The bonnet is longer and the profile smoother providing a more mature style. At the rear the rump is neater with a subtle spoiler and LED daytime running lights to make the car more visible.
Kiahas dropped the former entry-level 1 trim this time round as few customers were selecting it. The range now starts in 2 trim so the first model now costs from £18,295 but that includes a lot of standard equipment that is an option on rival models.
For that you get cruise control, air-con, all-round electric windows, automatic lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, frontfoglampsand LED rear lights. Inside you get a leather-trimmed steering wheel andgearleveras well as a seven-inch touchscreen, DAB radio, Android Auto and AppleCarPlay.
Safety kit is also generous and includes Lane Keeping Assist, High Beam Assist, Hill Start Assist, Driver Attention Warning and forward Collision-Avoidance Assist.
Opt for the limited Blue Edition which costs from £21,095 and comes with the new 1.4-litre T-GDIturbo petrol engine and you get exclusive BlueFlamepaint, larger 17-inch alloys, privacy glass, rear parking sensors, somefauxleather trim and an eight-inch touchscreen with sat nav.
If you spend another £1,100 you can have it with a seven-speed DCT auto instead of the standard six-speed manual box.
Next up in the UK will be theCeed3 which gets similar kit to the Blue Edition car but adds extra goodies such as dual-zone climate control and a 4.2-inch colour cluster display but prices for this car have still to be revealed.
At the top of the range sits the superbly equipped First Edition car with prices starting from £25,750 and going up to the most expensive model at £26,850. These cars get Smart Park Assist as standard whileDCTauto cars boast Smart Cruise Control with a stop and go functionality.
Inside you get electrically-adjustable leather seats, a tilt and slide sunroof, heated steering wheel andkeylessentry. Owners also get some extra safety equipment in the shape of Blind Spot Collision Warning, speed limit information and Forward Collision Avoidance Assist.
Step inside the new model and the first thing you notice is the leap in quality. Soft touch materials now feature throughout and surfaces are finished with metallic or satin chrome trim.
The dash is split into two levels and is well laid out and angled towards the driver for ease of use. The switches and controls feel good to touch and the dials are large and easy to read.
The touchscreen, navigation and entertainment systems are easy to operate and all-round visibility is good.
The first car I sampled on the scenic roads of Slovakia's HighTatramountains was powered by the new 138bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit which is expected to be the best-seller in this country.
Matched to a nice six-speed manual box it was very quiet and smooth and has a top speed of 130mph.
It can tackle the sprint to 62mph in 8.9 seconds and also offers excellent figures of up to just over 50mpg.The new 1.6-litre diesel offers bags of grunt and also meets all the latest European legislation emission figures. It packs stacks of punch but to my surprise I liked the petrol unit more.
The newCeedhandles well with meaty steering that is sharp and direct and the ride comfort is good if a little on the firm side.
The new suspension gives the car a much more sporty feel and it is a big improvement.
Now only available as a five-door the hatchback will soon be joined by an estate, while a shooting brake version is set to make its debut at the Paris Motor Show this autumn.
All things considered theCeedticks all the boxes to make it an ideal family hatchback with a quality cabin that has room for five and a boot that can take up to 395 litres of luggage or 1,291 litres with the rear seats folded.
It is up against some tough opposition in the shape of the new Ford Focus but generous equipment andKia'ssuperb seven-year 100,000 mile warranty will no doubt tempt many private buyers to theCeed.