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The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.6

The estate version of Kia’s Cee’d offers few frills when it comes to design or quality, but it’s well equipped and solid to drive. Combine that with affordable running costs and an excellent warranty, and you have an estate that’s well worth considering against the established rivals.

Reasons to buy

  • Very well equipped
  • Excellent seven-year warranty
  • Plenty of model choice
Pick of the range
Cee’d 3
Loads of kit without blowing the budget.
Most economical
1.6 CRDi manual
The larger diesel has an official combined fuel economy of 72.4mpg.
Best avoided
1.4 petrol
Entry-level petrol doesn’t have the grunt of the fuel economy to be worth considering.

How good does it look? 3/5

The design of the Cee’d estate is an extension – literally – of the hatchback, with a contemporary if unadventurous look. A variety of trim levels are available that bring different levels of bling to the outside the higher up you go, but there are plenty of standard features across the range, including front fog lights, LED running lights and a rear spoiler, as well as roof rails and body-coloured bumpers, door handles and mirrors.

The entry-level 1 model comes with 15-inch steel wheels, while the 2 gets 16-inch alloys and some chrome bits around the windows and fog lights. The 3 ups the wheel size to 17 inches, which stay on the rest of the range, while the 4 gets a standard panoramic sunroof. Two GT Line models – GT-Line and GT-Line S – get an exterior styling pack as standard that further jazzes up the Cee’d’s looks, with a different design of LED running lights, some gloss black bits and twin exhausts. The GT-Line S also gets the panoramic sunroof.

What's the interior like? 3/5

The Cee’d interior is functional and solid, but not particularly inspiring when it comes to design or choice of materials. When compared to some of the competition, most notably the much newer Volkswagen Golf, there are obvious areas – like the centre console – where a nicer grade of plastic, or a bit more design flair would make it a more pleasant environment. That said, none of it feels flimsy. The seats, while on the firm side, are comfortable with plenty of adjustability in the driver’s seat for the best driving position. The infotainment system is pleasingly straightforward to use, and while it’s not as flashy as some rivals, it does what it needs to do with minimum fuss and a combination of touch-screen, buttons and dials to navigate the interface.

How practical is it? 4/5

The front of the Cee’d is the same as the hatchback version, which means plenty of space for four adults, or five at a squeeze as the middle rear seat is cramped for anyone other than children. There are a decent number of cubby holes and cupholders dotted around the cabin too. The estate’s obvious advantage is its larger boot, and at 528 litres in size with the rear seats up, it’s not as spacious as a Golf Estate, but comparable to a Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and an improvement on a Ford Focus Estate. Fold the seats down and you’ll get 1660 litres of space, which is way more than the Ford and even more than the Golf, so if you need to lug large loads on a regular basis, the Cee’d is worth checking out.

What's it like to drive? 3/5

This type of car has several models that boast very good handling, such as the Seat Leon and Ford Focus, as well as the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf. The Cee’d is not at those levels when it comes to balancing agility and comfort, but it nevertheless does a competent job at ironing out the worst of British road surfaces and not feeling soggy through the corners. The weight of the steering can be configured to Normal, Comfort or Sport mode in all models except the 1. We’ve found Normal and Comfort to be too vague and light, but putting it into Sport, via a button on the steering wheel itself, improves things.

How powerful is it? 4/5

Three petrol and two diesel engines are offered in the mainstream Cee’d range, and the star of the show is the turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine that comes in two power outputs. So far, we’ve only driven the more powerful unit, and it’s very impressive: particularly smooth and refined for a three-cylinder unit and with a good pull across the full rev range. Other than that, you have a choice of 1.4- or 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines, but unless you’re after an entry level version, you’ll have to go for the larger units, which make up the bulk of the range. We’d recommend the 1.6 diesel, as its greater pulling power makes it easier to get around, and without so much effort. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available, both of which do the job nicely.

How much will it cost me? 3/5

The Cee’d Sportswagon isn’t as cheap to buy as you might expect compared to some rivals, although it is well specced. We compared the 1.6-litre diesel 3 model, with a manual gearbox, to equivalent versions of the Volkswagen Golf estate, Ford Focus estate and Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer estate, and found that differences in running costs over three years or 60,000 miles aren’t dramatic. The Golf is cheapest to run overall, despite a higher purchase price, thanks to its very solid resale value. The Astra was the most expensive to buy, although it does have more power than its rivals, but high depreciation also makes it the most expensive to run. The Focus and the Cee’d are very close overall, with Ford benefitting from slightly cheaper servicing and better fuel economy. The Kia then, is financially solid for this type of car, if not spectacular.

How reliable is it? 4/5

Detailed information on the reliability of the Cee’d isn’t available, but Kia as a brand sits solidly mid-table in Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, which ranks all major manufacturers. While some of its rivals have a better reputation therefore, there are plenty of competitor manufacturers that don’t. A glance at Auto Trader Owner Reviews for the various versions of the Cee’d suggests the large majority of customers have been very pleased with the car’s reliability. If anything does go wrong, Kia offers a very impressive seven-year warranty on all its new cars.

How safe is it? 3/5

The hatchback version of the Cee’d scored a maximum five stars in crash tests performed by safety organisation Euro NCAP. However, that was back in 2012, and the tests today, including those undergone by newer rival cars, are much more stringent. As the car is ageing a bit, it doesn’t have some of the newer active safety features available on the market, such as Automatic Emergency Braking. That said, all Cee’d Sportswagons come with six airbags and two Isofix child seat mounting points in the back. All but the entry level model have cruise control and a speed limiter as standard. A Lane Departure Warning system is standard on the top-of-the-range GT Line S model, but isn’t even an option on any other version, which is a shame. Overall, the Cee’d has impressive safety features considering its age, but newer rivals will perform better.

How much equipment do I get? 5/5

Kia has been generous with the equipment in the Cee’d Sportswagon. Every model gets a centre console armrest, air conditioning and electric windows front and back, as well as a DAB radio, cooled glovebox and USB, auxiliary and 12V power sockets. There’s also a temporary spare wheel in all cars. The 2 models upwards get sat-nav, a reversing camera, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, while the 3 adds front and rear parking sensors and a park assist system. The 4 has heated seats, keyless entry and start and a panoramic sunroof, while the GT Line models have the cosmetic extras mentioned earlier, as well as some cooler LED daytime running lights.

Why buy? 4/5

You want a well thought out, practical and solid car that covers all the basics well. The Cee’d Sportswagon might not excel in any one area, but it doesn’t fall down anywhere either. It’s decent to drive, affordable, comes with plenty of kit, and has a great warranty, which for many will be enough to tempt them away from more established brands.