Motor Mouth: the Kia cee'd SW

Like people, there's something to admire in every car, writes Sathnam Sanghera. Or is there?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I’ve been single for some time now. And if there’s one thing putting me off re-entering the dating game, despite the crashing loneliness and aching despair, it is dread of ‘the car conversation’. Worse than the ‘would I look better thinner?’ conversation, and the ‘why do you watch so much telly?’ chat, this usually crops up two months into a relationship and involves one’s beloved enquiring: ‘What is it with you and cars?’

At this point, I can lie and feel bad about it, or tell the truth and feel even worse. You see, I’m into cars because, to me, they are like human beings. Not only do they have eyes (headlights), mouths (grilles) and bottoms (tailgates), but personalities too. And, as with human beings, I find it difficult to truly despise a car. Every single one I have driven has had at least one redeeming feature.

A few months ago, for example, I drove a Mitsubishi Outlander and considered it too big, too plasticky, too slow and too loud. But I tell you what, it had an AMAZING stereo system, which – get this – featured its own music server. Every time you inserted a CD, it automatically recorded it, so you could access the music whenever you fancied. Even now, it gives me a thrill to think that someone, somewhere is driving a 4x4 with my compilation of rare George Michael tracks scored onto its hard drive.

And then there’s the bright ‘corrida red’ Skoda Fabia 1 – 60bhp! – now sitting outside my flat. It’s about as interesting as a discarded printer cartridge. But I just LOVE the fact that in addition to the very practical shelf to the right of the steering wheel, the door pockets can hold 1.5 litre drinks bottles. No more Evian bottles rolling around the floor, threatening to get jammed under the brake pedal! Brilliant.

Which brings me to the Kia cee’d SW, an estate version of the cee’d, the first car from the South Korean company designed and built in Europe for the European market alone, and Kia’s first ever estate. It’s a profoundly boring car. The performance is satisfactory. The handling is adequate. The interior is acceptable. You’d get more excitement from attending a Norah Jones gig with Steve Davis.

But then on day seven of my loan, as I walked out of my flat without my glasses on, it happened. I found something I adored about the Kia cee'd SW: it is actually quite pretty. Take a file to the badge, squint and forget everything you have ever thought about Korean cars, and you could be looking at a Toyota. Even an Audi. And how could you hate something like that?

I’ll take one
Cheaper than rivals
Pretty, for a Kia
Amazing warranty
Best car ever produced by South Korean company

Thanks but no thanks
Not that much cheaper than rivals
Blander than a dishcloth
Unremarkable performance
Best car ever produced by South Korean company
Kia cee’d SW: 1.6 CRDi  LS
Engine: 1.6 litre Turbo Diesel
Power: 113 bhp at 4,000 rpm
Torque: 255 lb ft @ 1900-2750 rpm 
Transmission: 5 speed manual
Fuel: 57.6 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2: 128g/km
0-62 mph: 11.7 sec
Top speed: 117 mph

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