Kia newcomers set

top standard

Kia Sportage GT-Line S, 2018, front, action
Kia Sportage GT-Line S, 2018, side
Kia Sportage GT-Line S, 2018, side, action
Kia Sportage GT-Line S, 2018, rear, action
Kia Sportage GT-Line S, 2018, rear
Kia Sportage GT-Line S, 2018, interior
Kia Sportage GT-Line S, 2018, display screen
Kia Sportage GT-Line S, 2018, rear seats
Kia Ceed, 2, 2018, front
Kia Ceed, 2, 2018, side
Kia Ceed, 2, 2018, rear
Kia Ceed, 2, 2018, interior
Kia Ceed, 2, 2018, display screen
Kia Ceed, 2, 2018, rear seats
Kia Ceed, 2, 2018, boot

KIA is renewing two of its top sellers with the arrival of an all-new Ceed hatchback and an updated line up of Sportage SUVs which include the introduction of the company's first 48-volt mild hybrid powertrains.

Both models are built in Europe at Kia's Zilinia factory in Slovakia and are designed specifically with our driving tastes in mind.

That's a characteristic that has seen Kia mature from a maker of cheap and cheerful cars to one that can hold its own with the likes of big hitters such as Ford and Vauxhall.

It's now one of the few brands that is posting positive sales figures in the UK and while most are struggling, Kia's figures continue to rise with the company now having almost a four per cent share of the UK market and on course to smash through the 100,000 barrier this year.

The Sportage leads the charge and is Kia's best seller in Britain with some 40,000 hitting the road last year and outselling the likes of the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008, Range Rover Evoque, the SEAT Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan.

In fact it's Britain's second favourite medium-sized SUV behind the Nissan Qashqai.

The new models come with subtle style enhancements such as redesigned front bumpers and fog lamp nacelles, some extra brightwork and upgrades to the cockpit with a new-look display screen on higher grades.

But it's under the skin where the greatest changes have taken place.

Out goes the 1.7-litre diesel and in comes a new 1.6-litre engine with either 114 or 134bhp on tap and emissions ranging from 130g/km to 126g/km for the higher powered unit while the new 48-volt hybrid system will power high grade level 4 models and new flagship GT-Line S versions.

With an eight-speed automatic transmission mated to a 2.0-litre diesel engine developing 182bhp the Sportage GT-Line S is good for 0 to 60 in 9.2 seconds, has a maximum of 125mph and is rated at 48.7mpg with a CO2 output of 152g/km - almost 10 per cent cleaner than the previous 2.0-litre diesel automatic.

It uses an electric generator to supplement performance under acceleration and recharges on the go with the battery mounted under the boot and it's seamless in operation.

On our drive the 48-volt system proved to be nicely lively and coped with all circumstances and although the powertrain showed great efficiency on the flat where it was averaging mid-40s with ease, steep inclines took the average down to the mid-20s.

Overall it returned an average of 32.7 to the gallon on a 50 mile run and that's acceptable from a 4x4 auto priced from £34,545 in GT-Line S trim or £2,000 cheaper for the level 4 model.

The new Sportage range now starts from £20,305 for a 1.6-litre, two-wheel-drive petrol version - an increase of around £1,000.

That is not the case with the new Ceed which at £18,295 for a 1,0-litre turbo petrol car in level 2 trim is actually cheaper by a few hundred pounds than the 1.6-litre model it replaces.

The third generation of Kia's car for Europe - the name stands for Community of Europe with European Design - sees the badge change from cee'd to Ceed and with that comes an entirely new model that's very good indeed.

Not only does it look stylish with a sportier appearance than before it is also almost an inch lower and wider than the previous model with a longer rear overhang which sees boot space increase to 395 litres up from 362 litres.

As a five-door car the cabin has grown to offer more room front and back and the dash now features a display screen which stands proud.

According to Kia the interior has been inspired by that of its Stinger performance saloon and that means better quality trim throughout and a more logical layout of controls.

Three engines are being offered with the 1.0-litre block being joined by 1.4-litre petrol turbos and the new 1.6-litre diesel which is said to be good for 74.3mpg with emissions of 99g/km.

Having just put the two bigger engines through their paces the 1.4-litre is particularly impressive. Not only is it lively at 8.6 seconds 0 to 60 but it actually beat its official 48.7mpg by some margin recording an impressive 55.6 to the gallon on our run.

That even put the diesel to shame which managed to average 53.5mpg over a similar route.

Where the new Ceed scores is with its road manners which are nigh on faultless. Not only is it smooth and refined to drive but it tucks itself into corners with aplomb and is delightfully balanced.

With a top speed of 130mph the 1.4-litre car has 138bhp and a healthy amount of torque - almost matching the pulling power of the diesel which with 114bhp on hand is rated at 10.6 seconds 0 to 60 and a maximum of 118mph.

The cars we tried were six speed manuals and in 2 level trim for the diesel priced from £19,545 and £25,570 for the high grade First Edition 1.4 T-GDi.

First Edition cars include automatic parking systems, heated seats front and rear and a wireless phone charger as standard fit as are a full set of driver aids including blind spot collision detectors and automatic emergency braking.

Those with Kia's dual clutch transmission, which in First Edition grade are priced from £26,850 also feature a semi-autonomous lane following function which allows the car to drive itself under certain conditions - the first application of such a system on a Kia.

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