Cee'd known by many as 'the reasonably priced car' on the TV show Top Gear competes in a packed market at present with 39 other C class sized cars in Europe. It has its work cut out to better the likes of VW Golf, Ford Focus etc.

In Ireland the car is loved for its 7-year warranty and reliability so it was already a good machine but now it is even better.

Outside the styling has evolved. Thanks to the excellent design work of the former Audi design guru Peter Schryer, the front-wheel drive Slovakian built car can hold its head high as one of the smartest vehicles in its class. Cee'd head-on looks lower and wider. The grille features the famed KIA tiger nose shape, while new light clusters and LED running lights provide a touch of class. Both these signature element are a key part of the celebrated German's design language. The new machine looks lower and wider and oozes sophistication. Cee’d is a relatively big car, the five-door hatchback seats five and the boot now holds a small amount more than the outgoing car.

Inside the dash has a quality layout and the materials used are certainly up there with the best in class. There is good headroom in the back and my only criticism would be the high sill height for rear passengers. When exiting it can be a little awkward for big feet.

What else is new? Cee'd has the option of a dual-clutch automatic gearbox. This is available only on the top of the range version. At just under thirty grand it is very expensive so, no takers there!

On the open road Cee'd is not exciting to drive but it rides well, has decent power and is civilized. The diesels have a good amount of torque too. On certain models there is a button mounted on the very nice steering wheel that allows you vary the amount of power assistance in three modes named 'comfort, normal and sport'. This is a pretty useless addition in the standard hatch though in the yet to be revealed three-door Pro Cee'd hot hatch version it could be of use.

Ireland will take in two tax band 'A' diesel engines (1.4 & 1.6 litre) and one petrol powered 1.4 that will be the entry point at a fiver under 19 grand. There is a modest €800 price walk from the 1.4 diesel to the larger 1.6 that should tempt a lot of buyers – especially those who use the car out of town.

Only eight rival cars in the sector offer an estate version and while we didn't get to drive the Sportwagon at the European launch we took a close look. Cee'd Sportwagon is similar to the last Focus estate and will be available in September. At present Cee'd is KIA's bestseller followed by Sportage, Rio (Continental Irish Car of the Year) and then Picanto. New Cee’d goes on sale here in early May and retail prices should be between 4 & 5% below its main rivals.

Couple an attractive price to KIA’s industry leading 7-year warranty (on all models) and Cee'd clearly is an excellent new buy.

Michael Sheridan