Making a station wagon exciting will always be a hard task. Cars like the Audi RS4, Mercedes Benz C63 AMG, or Cadillac CTS-V are a few examples of exciting station wagons. But they do cost a lot of money, and if you remove their high-performing engines and suspension you’re left with regular family station wagons. The Kia Cee’d Sportswagon is yet another example of an inconspicuous station wagon, and while there’s nothing exciting about the way it looks, it has proved to be a rather nice car to live with.
Kia have proven that they are more than capable of designing good-looking cars – the Rio, Sportage, Cee’d, Optima, and Pro Cee’d are all attractive cars for their respective segment. However, the Cee’d Sportswagon does have a whiff of dull family car about it, but I do like the front end styling – those LED headlamps and grille definitely give it a nice modern touch.
The interior of the test car is a nice place to be as well. The layout and design of the instruments are very good, while the switches and buttons have a nice quality feel when used – they don’t feel fragile or like they will fall out of place as soon as the new car smell wears out. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is nice to hold too, while the two-tone leather seats are a nice touch as well.
As for pricing, getting an example that’s as well-equipped as this press car means spending CHF 39,467. It comes with a 1.6-litre diesel engine producing 128hp and 260 Nm of torque (191 lb ft), sending power through a six-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is standard) to the front wheels. It can get from 0-100km/h in 12.1 seconds and maxes out at 185km/h.
The cheapest Cee’d SW with this engine costs CHF 28,777, while the absolute cheapest version comes with a 1.4-litre petrol engine (100hp) and costs CHF 19,777. I would personally go for the 1.6 GDI petrol (CHF 24,777), having sampled its engine in the Cee’d hatchback last year, I would say that it’s a much more responsive unit. But if you want the most fuel efficient version, then you should go for this diesel version.
For a small station wagon the Cee’d SW is surprisingly spacious, with plenty of leg- and headroom for average-sized adults. The trunk is a decent size too, and you can fold the back seats to create a flat loading bay – increasing capacity from 510 litres to 1,642 litres. To put this in to some kind of context, it has more carrying capacity than the BMW 3-Series Touring, Audi A4 Avant, and Mercedes Benz C-Class Estate – all of which are bigger and more expensive premium brand cars. Very impressive indeed.
This car comes with the Style pack, meaning you get nice features like: automatic dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless entry and go, Bluetooth, USB/iPod connectivity, and an auxiliary audio socket. It also has metallic paint (CHF 590) and an optional pack (CHF 4,900) which gives it satellite navigation, Kia’s Smart Parking self-parking system, a reverse camera, LCD speed display, directional xenon headlamps, lane-departure warning, and an electric parking brake.
The Cee’d SW provides a comfortable ride quality, absorbing bumps and road imperfections very well. The car also comes with Flex Steer (Kia’s electric power steering system), which allows you to drive in either: Comfort, Normal, or Sport modes. Comfort sets the steering to its lightest, while Normal is the same as Comfort but it weights up slightly as you gather speed (my preferred setting). Sport mode makes the steering heavier and slightly more responsive, but the level of change is minimal.
There was also a noticeable amount of tyre roar coming into the cabin, which is strange considering that the hatchback version I drove last year was very-well insulated. I hope that it’s a problem only with this press car, because you need to drive on rough surfaces or with the radio turned on to drown out the noise. The engine in this car does its job well enough, but it can feel sluggish at times. While I blame the gearbox for this, it does change gears smoothly enough. But having this gearbox also means that fuel consumption is higher than I would've liked for the engine type, with a city average of 7.5l/100km, it uses 2.5 litres more than its manual equivalent.
Being able to just push a button and having the car parallel-park itself is always useful when you’re not able to physically move around to manoeuvre the car (due to a stiff neck, handicap, age, etc.) into place. It’s also useful if you have no parking skills at all, or – in my case – are feeling a bit lazy. Smart Park is a great device to have, and seeing the faces of family and friends when it’s working is a plus too.
My near-two weeks with the Cee’d SW 1.6 CRDi was good, it provided me with a comfortable ride and proved a lot more spacious than I imagined. And provided you get it with a manual transmission, it will be very good on fuel as well. It’s a great example of affordable motoring, and with Kia’s seven-year warranty, it should be very reliable too. However, one thing that might keep me from buying the Cee’d SW is the tyre roar, so do make sure that you test drive one before buying to be sure that it’s not a common problem with Cee’d SWs.
Written by Alex Kisiri