Motor Mouth

Handling adequate, interior acceptable: Kia's Cee'd SW is deeply boring. Yet Sathnam Sanghera finds something to love about it.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

You probably won't be surprised to learn that I've been single for some time now. And if one thing puts me off re-entering the dating game, despite the crashing loneliness and aching despair, it's 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 that point, I can lie and feel bad about it, or tell the truth and feel even worse. You see, I'm into cars because they're 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. It was too big, too plasticky, too slow and too loud, but it had an amazing stereo system, which featured its own music server. Every time you inserted a CD, it recorded it, so you could access the music whenever you fancied. Even now, someone somewhere is driving a 4x4 with my compilation of rare George Michael tracks scored onto its hard drive.

And there's the bright 'corrida red' Skoda Fabia 1 - 60 bhp! - now sitting outside my flat. It's about as interesting as a discarded printer cartridge. But I just love the fact that the door pockets can hold 1.5 litre drinks bottles. No more Evian bottles rolling around the floor or getting 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 firm designed and built in Europe for the European market, and Kia's first ever estate. It's a deeply boring car. The performance is satisfactory. The handling is adequate. The interior is acceptable. You'd get more thrills from attending a Norah Jones gig with Steve Davis.

But then on day seven of my loan, it happened. I found something I adored about the Kia C'eed 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 a South Korean company.
Thanks but no thanks ...
Not that much cheaper than rivals.
Blander than a dishcloth.
Unremarkable performance.
Best car ever produced by a South Korean company.
Kia: Cee'd SW: 1.6 CRDi LS £14,995
Engine: 1.6 litre turbo diesel
Power: 113 bhp at 4,000 rpm
Torque: 255 lb ft at 1,900-2,750 rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Fuel: 57.6 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2: 128 g/km 0-62 mph 11.7 sec
Top speed: 117 mph.

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