Korean cleverness

Kia cee'd
Kia cee'd
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In second generation form, Kia’s cee’d no longer only looks to undercut Focus-class family hatchbacks: it wants to tackle them on equal terms at equal prices.

Which means it will have to be very good indeed. With sharper looks, great quality and higher technology, the signs are promising.

You can’t fault the way that Kia has gone about this. Clearly, someone in Seoul has looked at just what makes the best family hatchbacks great and gone to much trouble to try and emulate them. In the original version of this car, that meant the same clever multi-link rear suspension system pioneered by Ford’s Focus, something that’s still not the norm in this segment. In this second generation model, Kia has gone further. Think our steering system lacks feel? No problem: here’s a Flex Steer system so you can choose your level of feedback. Believe our petrol engines to be ordinary? Here’s a state-of-the-art direct injection unit. Find our automatic gearbox antiquated? Check out this hi-tech double-clutch version.

And the result? Well, it still won’t satisfy those for who driving dynamics are everything. The rest of us though should be quite satisfied. After all, these models are certainly as rapid as most owners will need them to be.

This second generation cee’d certainly looks more purposeful, but a more dynamic shape is usually a less practical one if, as in this case, it’s based on essentially the same platform with the same wheelbase as the previous generation design. So how can Kia claim this car to now be the most practical option in the family hatchback segment? I always think the acid test here is found on the back seat. That lower roof height has been more than compensated for with a lower ride height, so even tall folk are better catered for. And the 50mm of extra body length has translated into 21mm of extra space for their legs, too.

There will still be people who’ll blindly buy a family hatchback from a conventional mainstream brand without considering its Korean alternative. But these will largely be uninformed folk yet to fully cotton on to the way that products in this segment have changed.