TEST DRIVE – Kia cee’d

Kia's Stephen Kitson, right, accepting the Northern Car of the Year  award from Derrick Grocock, vice-chairman of the Northern Group of Motoring Writers, at Wetherby racecourse.

Kia's Stephen Kitson, right, accepting the Northern Car of the Year award from Derrick Grocock, vice-chairman of the Northern Group of Motoring Writers, at Wetherby racecourse.

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UNLIKE other awards contests, the Northern Car of the Year is judged on the basis of value for money. Motoring writer Les Oliver tells why he cast his vote for this year’s winner, the Kia cee’d.

ONCE considered a budget brand, Kia is now up their with some of the best family cars you can buy, evidenced by their buoyant sales.

They have enjoyed their best year ever in the UK with 57,700 sales - up 13.2 per cent on 2011.

Playing a big part in this succes has been the extremely accomplished cee’d hatchback.

Though prices have gone up you couldn’t expect anything else when you consider the increased level of efficiency and build quality in ther laterst cee’d.

It got my vote in the Northern Car of the Year Awards chosen by motoring journalists from across the North of England emerging as winner.

The five-door cee’d won the honour in the face of stiff competition from a raft of new cars from rival brands.

It impressed me because of its refinement, sophisticated ride, quality finish, economy and general value for money.

Over the last 12 months there have been some fantastic new products brought to car buyers by the world’s most vibrant and innovative industry.

But despite that competition the Kia cee’d was a clear winner in the voting.

For hard-pressed motorists in the North, investment in a new car has to really work hard to be justified and the Kia cee’d delivers on every front - comfort, reliability, quality, value and of course peace of mind from its seven-year warranty.

Accepting the award at a ceremony in Wetherby, Stephen Kitson, communications director at Kia UK, said: “This is a great honour for all of us at Kia.

“We are very grateful to the Northern Group of Motoring Writers as we know how hard it is to win their approval because they think first and foremost about their readers and their needs. Winning this award is a real achievement for any new car,” he said.

The Kia cee’d range comes with a choice of two 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol and two diesel engines, manual, automatic and dual clutch transmissions and pricing starts at just £14,395.

Kia have just added the Sportswagon variant to the range for owners who want greater flexibility and an all-new stylish pro_cee’d three-door version is due to arrive in the spring of 2013.

Looking at the car it’s not hard to share this optimism. Like many of its recently launched siblings, the cee’d is remarkably stylish; more so than the Hyundai i30 that it shares a platform with and arguably more than most of the models against which it competes.

The cee’d has quality, and, thanks to an unusually long wheelbase, the spaciousness to compete against well-established European marqus.

With engines ranging from 89bhp to 133bhp - the Cee’d offers an nice mix of erconomy and performance.

The 126bhp 1.6-litre CRDi delivers 191lb ft of low end torque - but its impressive economy and low CO2 will be appreciated by cost-conscious buyers.

Though rarely reflected in real life driving official figures are given as 68.9mpg and 109g/km.

Go for the 133bhp model tested here and you get 52.3mpg and 124g/km.

Six-speed manual transmission is standard across the range. I loved the gearchange, very slick and nice to use.

A six-speed automatic available as an option.

There’s no doubt Kia has come a long way. It may not outclass some of its more expensive rivals but when it comes to value for money it’s up there with the best.

TECH SPEC

Kia cee’d 1.6 GDi “2” EcoDynamic

Engine: 1.6-litre diesel

Power: 133bhp

0-60: 9.8 secs

Top speed: 118mph

Economy: 52.3mpg

CO2: 124g/km

Price: £17,195