KIA Cee'd Sportswagon

Forget the name, as Cee'd Sportswagon is not remotely sporty - but it is practical.

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KIA has just launched the estate version of the Cee'd, and it is a good-looking machine. The exterior, when viewed head-on, is as per the five-door Cee'd, so it is there or thereabouts with the best European carmakers have to offer. Side-on you can see an estate profile that is clearly purpose-built and not just an afterthought. The rear is very well executed and there is close attention to detail. The design team, under Peter Schreyer, has delivered a European-looking car that will sell very well in Ireland. The tailgate gets a major overhaul and now opens higher than the 2009 SW. Overall, the rear design demonstrates a certain amount of homage to Audi.

Inside the five-seat cabin there is more headroom and rear legroom. Two trim levels, TX & EX, are available with a €1,500 price-walk between them. Standard specification is good (air con, etc) while EX has all the bells and whistles, including 16-inch alloys. Connectivity is terrific with two 12-volt power sockets, a USB and mini-jack audio socket in the centre dash cubby. The leather steering wheel on the EX is excellent, too.

Power comes from two diesel engines. KIA Ireland says there is no call for a petrol version at the moment as the sector continues to be dominated by diesels. The entry diesel is a 1.4-litre with 90bhp/224nm. For an additional €800 you can get a 1.6-litre with 128bhp/265nm – both engines are in tax band 'A'.

On the road the larger cabin area makes for a slightly louder cabin compared to the hatch but otherwise Cee'd SW drives and rides quite well. The standard six-speed manual gearbox helps deliver very good fuel consumption figures and the added power from the 1.6-litre version is worth the extra €800.

KIA is growing at a very impressive rate, both globally and in Ireland, despite the gloomy economic conditions. Over the last couple of years the range of cars delivered by Hyundai's sister company has transformed the brand into a mainstream player. There is more new product on the way next year, too. In February, the new Sorento SUV arrives, while in March the seven-seat Carens and three-door Pro-Cee'd go on sale. Then later in 2013 we'll see a high performance Cee'd. Of course, let's not forget that KIA also wears the crown for Continental Irish Car of the Year 2012 with the KIA Rio. Things couldn't be brighter for the Korean carmaker; it should achieve its target of a 5% share of the Irish market very soon.

Provisional SW prices start at €21,795 (1.4 TX) and rise up to €24,095 for the 1.6 EX. For a price-walk of €800 over the standard five-door hatchback, the SW delivers a fair bit more space and even better value for your euro. Let's not forget that KIA also gives all its cars a seven-year warranty as standard – something it started with the first Cee'd.

Cee'd SW is a very sensible buy.

Michael Sheridan


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