The Kia Pro cee'd

The Kia Pro cee'd
The forecast wasn't good... snow on the way, a Siberian storm approaching from the North East, we were surely doomed!

At least that was the impression we got from the good old Met Office that weekend. However, we're made of stronger stuff than that! Constitutions of oxen! We weren't going to let a bit of the white stuff get the better of us. We had little choice about making the 400 mile round trip down to sunny Brighton and back anyway, so any Arctic threat was filed under 'pending' for the time being.

Ever since I first saw and drove the Kia cee'd I have loved it. Humbug to those sceptics who simply describe it as a badged Corolla. I have an enduring respect and admiration for it. Up to this point I had not had the opportunity to try the relatively new Pro cee'd but I was determined to make the most of this opportunity.

Few can deny that the Pro cee'd is a very distinctive and, in my opinion, a very pretty car. It looks classy and sporty and almost always draws a second glance. Its sleek lines and low profile make it look as though it has a bit of performance to offer even before you get behind the wheel.

First impressions can sometimes be misleading. On the first block, this is a heavy car to drive. The gearchange isn't one of those light-as-a-feather ones, it needs a good old shove to get up and
The Pro cee'd
down the ratios. The steering, although not quite as stiff as an old Land Rover, does require use of the biceps instead of just the finger muscles. The pedals seem to be stiffer than many cars of the same class too.

But, and this is where the 'misleading' bit comes in... it nevertheless all feels very good! This is a proper 'driver's' car. Everything is positive, confident, predictable and yet at the same time exciting. Once away from the nose-to-tail city traffic, this thing really can fly. I was very impressed by the torquey 2-litre diesel's flexibility and the handling and ride were excellent. Though I personally didn't have any issues with comfort, my trusty co-reviewer did express that she felt that the lumbar support on the sports seats left a little to be desired. I was far too excited by the way this thing flew along to be taking too much notice of things like lumbar support.

I remember many years ago (actually, rather more years than I would like to admit) when I first drove the good old 'Mini'. I was particularly struck by the way that it would religiously do whatever you told it to and make it seem like fun at the same time. It was never refined, but boy was it fun! I remember many happy days throwing one around the lake district, bouncing around up and down as well as sliding this way and that, but it never ever felt as though it would let you down. Neither did this Pro cee'd. It inspired so much confidence that I felt compelled to test it even further. I literally craved the next clear stretch of road in order to try something else. It didn't even so much as threaten to let me down.

Putting aside the 'pushing' and 'throwing' and all that macho malarkey, there is very little about the Pro cee'd that I didn't like. Access to the rear seats was perhaps one of its minor shortcomings, as were the small rear windows, giving the rear seat passengers a somewhat claustrophobic experience at times. However the hatchback and access to the boot and, if the rear seats were laid flat, the deceptively large load bay, was excellent, with a low boot sill and a high lifting tailgate. It swallowed our luggage with acres to spare and getting stuff in and out was a piece of cake.

What really impressed me though, was the way this car literally ate the miles up. It seemed to go forever on a single tank of fuel. It made a long drive completely effortless, with the cruise control taking the hard work out of keeping my licence clean where lesser mortals would possibly succumb to the urge to misbehave in such a responsive and fun car. It was easy to park, nippy enough to get away with switching lanes when flummoxed by Brighton's poorly placed and tree-shrouded road signs and yet comfy enough to send her to sleep in the seat next door. Poor lumbar support... pah!

It seems that all this fun and excitement had distracted me from the original point, which was that dreaded snow. It was just as we were heading home that a few flurries started to fall. Our timing was perfect. When we awoke the following morning, the scene was white, as was the car, but the deed was done. We'd put it through its paces and enjoyed every minute of it! I would cherish the opportunity to spend more time with this good fun and yet practical car.

Feb 2009

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