Joy in a reasonably priced car

Driving joy can come from the most unlikely of sources. Such as a Kia C'eed, Top Gear's reasonably priced car

By Tim Kendall | 11th October 2010

Kia C'eed

Driving joy can come from the most unlikely of sources. After my C43 was carted off on the back of a recovery truck for some expensive electronic surgery, the RAC were kind enough to deliver me a reasonably priced car to keep me mobile. My temporary transport, a Kia C’eed, is regularly the object of ridicule on Top Gear, and subject to repeated mechanical torture at the hands of various celebrities. But still, I was genuinely relieved to see this Korean built blandbox as I mooched around the forecourt of the Mercedes garage today, reflecting on the idiocy that led me to run an ageing AMG.

It may have something to do with being re-acquainted with a manual gearbox, but getting back to the fundamental mechanics of driving and changing gear for yourself re-asserts how much involvement you are missing when you drive an auto. As a petrolhead, it’s almost embarrassing to admit that you can derive enjoyment from driving a decidedly sub-premium brand, but objectively the diesel Kia C’eed is a curiously satisfying steer.

The six-speed gearbox snicks up and down the ratios with a slick, short throw action, and the common rail diesel has a reasonable slug of torque which translates into decent progress out on the road. It even feels well screwed together – as a hire car I assume my example has led a hard life. In fact it’s written in the small print of any hire car agreement that willful abuse until the wheels fall off is obligatory. But this 18k mile ’59 plate example is totally rattle free aside from a buzzing rear-view mirror. Inside, the dashboard materials are easily up to Ford Focus standards, if not endowed with the soberly Germanic style and chrome door-handled perceived quality which a Golf has. It doesn’t in any way feel down-market or tacky, but honest, functional and imbued with a build integrity I didn’t expect. It also steers and handles in a feelsome manner, soaking up sunken manhole covers and the scarred urban blacktop which afflict the majority of our roads.

If I was in the market for a new-ish hatchback on a budget and didn’t give a monkeys about the badge, then I would have a hard time ignoring the C’eed. Brands like Kia are traditionally bought by people who want value for money and have no interest in the driving experience, but Kia are clearly trying to broaden their appeal and it is a credible Focus alternative, if you can get past the badge.

By Tim Kendall
11th October 2010


  1. seancarsonuk says:

    Hear hear. I’m all for the cause of brand snobbery reduction. Oh, yeah, the writings good too…!

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