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Kia Ceed EcoDynamics (2009) review

Published:23 December 2009

Kia Ceed EcoDynamics (2009) CAR review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

Kia’s facelifted the Ceed in fairly subtle style. Bar the new nose (which makes it look like a last-gen Astra), only details such as the dashboard’s new centre console are fresh. But this green-tinged EcoDynamics version takes Kia into new territory, even if the blandly attractive styling, good-value pricing and seven-year warranty mean the Kia proposition is otherwise unchanged.

How green is the new eco Kia Ceed then?

Well, 110g/km and 67.3mpg aren’t mean claims, achieved via a new six-speed gearbox, low rolling resistance tyres and a start/stop system for the 89bhp turbodiesel. Not sure ours was sticking to those figures, though. In 200 miles of test-driving, I didn’t get the start/stop thing to activate even once.

The weather’s a bit chilly right now, and Kia’s people tell us that the system deactivates at temperatures below 5deg C, which may explain it. So, it should get greener with warmer weather, when simply being in neutral with the clutch engaged is enough to cut the power. Hit the pedal and by the time you’ve selected first gear the engine will be running again.

Any good to drive?

I quite like the Ceed. Sure, everyone says it’s good with the caveat ‘for a Korean’ and, fair enough, that’s true. But Kia benchmarked the Ford Focus Mk1 for driving feel, and there’s a familiar firmness about the Ceed that’s initially engaging. You’ll put up with quite a stiff and unyielding ride as a result, but it’s well damped, quelling body movement over a particularly vicious hump near the CAR office more adroitly than a lot of much more expensive machinery.

Problem is, the steering is woollier than it first seems: while the gearing is quick, the system isn’t very sharp. And that firm ride doesn’t translate into Focus-style fizziness through bends. It’s safe, it’s secure, it’s consistent but it doesn’t make you grin inanely.

How about that diesel engine?

You get a light dose of low-end oomph, and the Kia is light enough that when torque trails off above 2500rpm, it doesn’t really struggle. The engine itself is a touch vibratory, sending a few shivers about the cabin, but it doesn’t sound rough and remains quiet enough most of the time. Unexciting but adequate.

High gearing makes the Ceed a refined enough cruiser, and the shift feels faintly reminiscent of the last Vauxhall Astra’s, being slightly obstructive and a bit springy, but otherwise okay. The square gearknob’s very Astra too.

Any good inside?

Not bad at all, and probably the Ceed’s strongest suit. The newly tidied centre stack is smart (to use the language of Kia-type people), the main dash moulding looks and feels good, and there’s a tangible sense of quality about the place. It’s no Golf, but it really shows up the Toyota Auris and Subaru Impreza.

Feels solid too and, bar the too-high driving position, works well ergonomically. Space is decent front and rear, and in the boot. Only the hard, flat and unsupportive seats are a demerit. They’re not awful, just a bit of a letdown.

Verdict

That warrantly, cheap servicing, the promise of excellent fuel economy and £35 road tax add up to a compelling package financially, and the car’s not bad either. No, it’s not aimed at driving enthusiasts, but even serious buffs can’t fail to be impressed by how far Kia has travelled since the days of the Shuma and the Rio. The Ceed is well made, decently spacious and perfectly respectable.

Whether the EcoDynamics model shows the Ceed in its best light is another issue. For the same price, you can have a similar trim level with an extra 24bhp. You lose the green tech, and claimed mpg falls to 62.8 – hardly bad then. It even stays in the same £35 road tax band, at 119g/km.

Buying a Kia Ceed makes sense if you’re the kind of person who scours websites for buying advice; you know, the kind of websites that suggest you buy a Toyota. This isn’t one of those websites. And this car is more interesting than an Auris.

Specs

Price when new: £14,195
On sale in the UK: now
Engine: 1582cc 16v 4cyl turbodiesel, 89bhp @ 4000rpm, 173lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 13.5sec 0-62mph, 107mph, 67.3mpg, 110g/km
Weight / material: 1468kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4260/1790/1480

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  • Kia Ceed EcoDynamics (2009) CAR review
  • Kia Ceed EcoDynamics (2009) CAR review
  • Kia Ceed EcoDynamics (2009) CAR review
  • Kia Ceed EcoDynamics (2009) CAR review
  • Kia Ceed EcoDynamics (2009) CAR review
  • Kia Ceed EcoDynamics (2009) CAR review
  • Kia Ceed EcoDynamics (2009) CAR review
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