Kia sowing seeds of greater success.Byline: MIKE TORPEY
WHEN it comes to setting targets Korean car producer Kia likes to think big.
A fringe player just a few years ago, the marque now performs on the major stage and aims to be in the world's top three manufacturers for actual quality within three years.
A lofty ambition perhaps, but Kia has a habit of delivering and only last week was named UK Automotive Company for 2010 by the Institute of Transport Management.
The reason - the Koreans' push towards a healthier industry plus its development of cost-efficient vehicles and environmentally sound manufacturing processes.
A key model in this brave new world Brave New World
Aldous Huxley’s grim picture of the future, where scientific and social developments have turned life into a tragic travesty. [Br. Lit.: Magill I, 79]
See : Dystopia
Brave New World is the oddly-named cee'd, launched two years ago and still the only car on sale in Europe with a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty as standard.
European designed and built it has proved a runaway success in that time and rather than facing a mid-life crisis it's about to take on a new lease of life.
Monday sees the arrival of a new cee'd that has been refreshed inside, outside and underneath.
Upgrades in the cabin mean better quality materials - though the two-tone seats look a bit 1970s naff rather than retro chic - extra kit and better comfort, from a starting price starting price n (COMM) → precio inicial
starting price n → prix initial
starting price start n (at auction of pounds 11,595 for the 1.4-litre three door pro-cee'd.
And to introduce the company's eventual move towards hybrids, electric cars and fuel-cell vehicles, the cee'd will be the first Kia available with emissions busting EcoDynamics.
This comes in the shape of an Intelligent Stop & Go system which turns off the engine when the car is stationary.
It's hardly a ground-breaking set-up but it works well and isn't in the least bit spooky when the engine cuts out at traffic lights for instance.
I picked a 30-minute route through Liverpool city centre in midweek and gauged the engine to be turned off for just under seven minutes, so there's a definite saving to be had.
Initially ISG ISG Iraq Study Group
ISG Iraq Survey Group
ISG International Steel Group
ISG Integrated Security Gateway
ISG Information Systems Group
ISG Information Systems Group (IBM)
ISG Integrated Starter/Generator will only be available in pro-cee'd, the five-door cee'd hatchback and cee'd SW estate models using the standard 1.6-litre 89bhp CRDi diesel powerplant.
It gives Kia a model that makes clear sense to business users, its CO2 emissions of just 110g/km meaning that companies can claim 100 per cent company car tax write-down in the first year of operation.
Of overall appeal is the figure of 67.3 miles per gallon Noun 1. miles per gallon - the distance traveled in a vehicle powered by one gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel
unit, unit of measurement - any division of quantity accepted as a standard of measurement or exchange; "the dollar is the United States unit of fuel economy and the 13 per cent rate of benefit-in-kind tax, considerably lower than many rivals.
To simplify the model line-up the new range is badged cee'd 1, 2 and 3, with 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines and two 1.6-litre diesels producing 89 and 113bhp.
While the original cee'd remains an enjoyable and agile car to drive, the revamped models - which also incorporate a new Kia family face first seen on the Soul urban runabout - feel better still thanks to a revised suspension and a new stability management system.
I took three versions on a mixed test route over 80 miles and all gave the feel of a more expensive car. The dash is well designed, the steering wheel trendy, interior space excellent bar a perched centre rear position and the manual gearshift (now six-speed on all diesels) is slick.
Most appealing is the 113bhp diesel cee'd 2 SW estate at pounds 14,995 - the engine's quiet, the torque comes in early and the styling and boot space is first class.
But then even the most basic models are thoroughly kitted out with the likes of air con AIR CON Air Conditioning (cooling system) with cooled glovebox, RDS (1) (Remote Data Services) A set of programming interfaces from Microsoft that enables users to update data on the Internet or intranets from their ActiveX-enabled browser. radio-CD player that's compatible with MP3 players, rake and reach steering adjustment and a height-adjustable driver''s seat, trip computer, front electric windows, deadlocks, six airbags, headlamp levellers
The Levellers were members of a mid 17th century English political movement, who came to prominence during the English Civil Wars. , and steering wheel-mounted audio controls and tinted glass included.
More than 17,000 UK buyers now have a cee'd planted on their driveway - from next week that figure is set to really sprout.
BIG HITTER: Korean car producer Kia is looking to the future with its latest cee'd model