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SECTOR Lower medium PRICE From £13,995 (est.) FUEL From 78mpg (est.) CO2 From 97g/km
At a time when many motor manufacturers are still struggling to shake off the tough economic conditions of the last three years, Kia has established itself as a brand with an impressive track record for growth.
The Korean manufacturer has emerged from being a ”value” brand picking up sales from the cost-conscious end of the retail market to one which is increasingly making its presence felt in certain sectors of the fleet market.
And while this presence may not yet be right across the spectrum of major corporates, the company has ambitious plans to reach out to an ever growing number of organisations, both through its own sales operations and via the major contract hire and leasing providers.
Key to this growth will be the new cee’d, which competes in the heartland of the fleet sector, nose-to-nose with powerhouses such as the Focus, Astra and Golf.
While the previous generation offered decent, value motoring, Kia has greater ambitions for the new cee’d, taking it upmarket in terms of quality, price and driving experience.
Paul Philpott, chief operating officer, Kia Motors Europe, said: ‘The original cee’d was a paradigm shift for Kia, taking the company into the hotly contested C-segment with a truly competitive car for the first time. Just as the original cee’d represented a major step forward for Kia in 2007, this second-generation model represents a further leap for the brand – both in terms of the capability and sophistication of the vehicle, and what it will do to drive further momentum in our European sales.’
The new model is both longer and lower than its predecessor – overall length is increased by 50mm, yet the overall height has been reduced by 10mm - with the same wheelbase, which not only gives it a more sporty profile, but better handling too.
Interior space has been increased too. Front occupants have more headroom, while rear passengers gain shoulder room. Luggage capacity is up by 12% to 380 litres (up 40 litres) and the split-folding rear seats can be made fully flat.
There will be two petrol engines – a 1.4 MPI and a 1.6 GDI producing 100 and 135bhp respectively – plus two diesels: a 1.4 with 90bhp and 1.6 VGT diesel offered in two states of tune (110 and 128bhp).
For fleets the diesel will no doubt prove the most popular and the requisite low emission version will be a favourite as well: CO2 emissions start at just 97g/km.
But perhaps the biggest leap forward is not in the cold hard statistics of this car, but the way it looks, feels and drives. For a start, the cee’d looks sporty, well proportioned and handsome, the cabin is made of very high quality materials – the touch screen and graphics are as good as anything in the sector, if not better, and the dashboard is cleanly laid out – while to drive it is refined, decently nippy and rides well too. In terms of overall driving enjoyment it is not quite the match of the best in the segment, the Ford Focus, but in every other respect it is its equal.
Perhaps the prices, indicated to start from just under £14,000, will be the biggest challenge because it is no longer the ”cheap” option, at least at the front end. You’ve got to pay for this uplift in quality. But Kia’s awareness of the importance of residual values has increased remarkably in recent years, and speaking to market experts, Kia has more focus on this area than some of the volume brands. So the cee’d should continue to be the value proposition it has always been, but now is even better to drive.
The new Kia cee’d is bigger, with a higher quality cabin, as well as being better to drive and more comfortable. But while the new
car takes Kia into core fleet territory among some major players, the likely higher price will need to be offset by stronger residuals and low running costs for it to really compete.