2013 Kia Cee’d Review | Canadian Review

2013 Kia C'eed Hatchback Review


By Graeme Fletcher, National Post


Zilana, Slovakia – The Kia Cee’d hatchback, which is all-new for 2012, is a compact car very much along the lines of the Forte5 sold in Canada. The unusual name has an equally unusual meaning.


In the beginning, Kia’s offerings were all engineered in Korea. This gave the brand’s offerings a somewhat detached sense of feel in a dialed-in European market. The answer was to build a car to be designed and built exclusively in and for Europe. Hence the Cee’d name – Community of Europe, European Design. The significance of the apostrophe was not explained. Hokey name aside, there are some key features and unexpected surprises that set the Cee’d apart from Canadian cars, and this holds true regardless of marque.


Along with a strong stylistic presence and bright LED daytime running lights, the Cee’d boasts one of the nicest interiors I have encountered in an affordable car. The test cars were decidedly upmarket, featuring a soft-touch dashboard, tasteful trim accents and swanky instruments to go along with all the usual power toys and a good navigation system – the touchscreen and surrounding controls are as attractive as they are intuitive.


It also boasts two very comfortable front seats, generous rear-seat accommodations and enough trunk space to handle three sets of luggage. The overwhelming impression it left me with was one of class – the cabin and its content was an easy match for the up-level Optima sold in Canada.


Another of the Cee’d’s pluses is found in its road manners. The roads in Eastern Europe are, well, very much like those encountered in many parts of Canada – rough and somewhat unforgiving, especially if the suspension is not well damped. The Cee’d managed to play both ends of the ride/handling equation. It was comfortable when cruising yet equally adept at controlling unwanted body motion when tossed through a series of corners.


There was, however, an initial anomaly. Moments after taking off for the first drive, I noted the steering had no feel or feedback whatsoever. Things were not looking good until I pushed a button that resembled one for a heated wheel. In this instant, it allowed the driver to scroll through comfort, normal and sport settings for the electrically assisted steering. The comfort mode was the problem – way too much assist, which killed the feel.


The other two modes ramped up the feel and feedback to the point where, in sport mode, it had a connected and direct feel. If there’s one thing the next-generation Forte, a car that shares the Cee’d’s platform, will benefit from is the ability to tailor the steering to the driver’s taste.


I drove both gasoline and diesel-powered derivatives of the Cee’d. The gasoline engine was the same 1.6-litre, direct-injected four-cylinder that powers the Rio5. It puts out 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to deliver spirited performance. The 1.4-litre, turbocharged, common-rail diesel, however, proved to be the better workhorse. While it only puts forth 90 hp, it twists out 162 pound-feet of torque at a very low 1,500 rpm. As such, it brought a lively feel to the Cee’d’s on-road demeanour. As is true of today’s modern diesels, the Cee’d’s was quiet and unflustered even when worked toward the top of the rev range.


Both engines were teamed with a six-speed manual transmission. While the shifter has a refined feel and the clutch has a light progressive action – which makes it an easy transmission even in stop-and-go traffic – I did not care for the gear spacing. Third and fourth gears need to be a little closer to keep things amped up, especially when pulling up a grade. It is a very minor beef, as the more popular choice will be the six-speed automatic or, if Canada gets lucky, Kia’s six-speed twin-clutch transmission.


Lively feel aside, the other thing the diminutive diesel had going for it was fuel economy. During the test, I averaged 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres. This was achieved with a full load aboard and with the Cee’d being driven with an eye to getting from A to B as quickly as possible. Driven with a softer foot, the combination should return somewhere around 4.8 to 5 L/100 km.


Now that sort of economy is exceptionally good by any measure. However, if I were picking a diesel-powered option for the Canadian Rio range, Soul or upcoming Forte replacement (due next year as a 2014 model) I would opt for Kia’s more powerful 1.6L turbodiesel. This engine, in high-output form, not only delivers 128 hp and, more importantly, 192 lb-ft of torque, it does so while delivering better overall economy than the 1.4L diesel. Now that seals its appeal and makes the decision to bring it to Canada a no-brainer as far as I am concerned.


Knowing that the Forte is being prepared for market as you read this, I can only hope that the Cee’d’s features and attributes – namely the diesel engine – are a harbinger of the things coming to Canada. The Cee’d is an upmarket offering that, as it stands in Europe, more than gives the Volkswagen Golf a serious run for its money. In Canada, it would set a new standard in the compact class.


Read Article: