Kia Cee’d Sportswagon 4 Tech – Gadget-packed estate offers value, decent handling and high economy

Massive tech, luxurious interior, fun handling, outstanding mpg, great price

Exterior lacks character, heated seats slow to warm

 Kia Cee'd Sportswagon in an urban environment

Kia Cee’d Sportswagon?

We could have had the normal Cee’d hatchback for testing, but we’ve mentioned before that we like a good estate, so the Sportswagon it was. The Cee’d has had a massive amount of positive feedback from both the press and media and buyers too. It’s mid-sized car that packs an economical engine, a huge 7-year warranty, great quality build and so much tech at a low price, you’ll wonder why all cars don’t come with the same stuff. So, what’s all the hype about then? We had it for a full week to find out…

KIA Cee'd Sportswagon view from above

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

The front is nice. Good looking, classy maybe. Kia’s trademark ‘tiger nose’ design in the grille, which runs through the range, is always a good thing. The front lights are long slashes, stretching from the grille to halfway over the wheels. I’d hate to have to pay to replace one though. On the ‘4 Tech’ model we had, these are Xenon with automatic levelling, cornering ability and LED running lights all built in. Gulp. The sharp angles continue with the front fog lights too. Don’t think I can fault the front though.

KIA C'eed sportswagon on cobbled street

From the side, it all gets a little uninteresting. There’s nothing to shout about, and in fact it reminds me much of the 2007 – ’09 Volkswagen Golf Estate (albeit lower-slung). The rear of the car gets slightly better, with LED’s replacing the normal bulbs in the rear clusters. Lift up the boot lid, and a large section of the roof comes up too. A good idea, as this allows a larger boot mouth so you can fit more in.

The colour we had it in – Dark Gun Metal Metallic – didn’t do anything to excite the design. It looked too salesman-motorway-mucher-like. If you want cooler looks, maybe go for it in Arctic White, blacked-out rear windows, and the 17″ wheels in the dark pewter-like colour. Another nicer colour option than the grey is the Infra Red.

KIA Cee'd sportswagon wheel

The Sportswagon’s design gives the impression that it has been partly designed using a stack of wind tunnel data. There’s the sharp lines of the bonnet, the windscreen is raked at an acute angle – which is highly noticeable once you step inside the Cee’d – and the ultra-cool wing mirrors also scream aerodynamic. They are actually one of my favourite exterior design features of the Sportswagon.

Overall, not a bad design per se. A little dull maybe, and the front is the Cee’d Sportswagon’s best angle.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

I’d only seen the exterior of the Cee’d Sportswagon for a few minutes and I admit I was a little disappointed with slightly lacklustre design, the gunmetal grey colour not helping that a whole lot. When finally got to step into the Kia’s interior though, it’s safe to say I was hugely flabbergasted. Forgive me please, for I am about go into raptures over this.

KIA Cee'd sportswagon review - Cockpit view

The 4 Tech model is the top of the range for the Sportswagon, and comes in at nearly £25,000. For that, you’re getting ‘the works’, including panoramic glass roof with automatic full-roof sunblind, leather seats, leather (faux) inserts on the doors, super-soft dashboard and centre console surround, 10-way adjustable electric driver seat with 2 memory settings (electric lumbar for the front passenger), dual climate control, 3-stage heated front seats, fully-automatic power windows all-round, 7″ touchscreen with sat nav which covers all of Europe, bluetooth for music and phone contact download and a reverse camera, oh and a couple of 12-volt points in the front (and one in the boot). Phew. That’s just the interior tech too. The stuff related to driving comes later.

In all honesty, I have no idea how you would go another level higher than this even, for the amount of tech put into this Kia is staggering. It is absolutely not just about how many gadgets you can cram into a car though, it’s also about how the interior is finished. With the Sportswagon 4 Tech, it is absolutely top-notch. Every single person that got into the Cee’d was instantly full of compliments on just how luxurious it felt.

3 photos of the glass roof on the KIA C'eed

I mean ‘felt’ too, as well as ‘looks’. Virtually every part of the Cee’d 4 Tech feels high-quality, well made and wonderfully put together. It is superbly well finished, and gives the distinct impression that you are in a car far more expensive than you actually are. Everything just feels, and looks, nice. 

The leather seats in the front and rear are getting on for sumptuous, while heavy chrome door openers and gloss black trim on the dash, steering wheel, centre console and door handles all adds to the effect. Every button and switch in the Sportswagon 4 Tech is soft-touch, or silent when you use them. Many feel rubberised instead of hard plastic, and the ones that are made of harder materials still push silently into place, with no clacking or clicking noise at all. It’s all very solidly put together too, and seems like it will wear well over time.

KIA Cee'd Sportswagon seats

One of the coolest features of the 4 Tech has got to be the panoramic roof. What looks like a normal section of the rooflining parts in the centre at one push of a button. Sliding all the bay apart, they reveal the two huge sections of glass. Another push of a button and the front section of glass slides all the way back, like a giant sunroof. You can do all the above with one press on a single switch too. You’re already pretty much blown away by the interior, but revealing the panoramic roof makes it a metaphorical ten degrees cooler – we’re talking below zero.

Image shows the Kia Cee'd Sportswagon with an open tailgate

Opening the Sportswagon’s tailgate, you’re greeted with a pretty smart layout, and plenty of space. Straight away, there’s a feature which is fairly insignificant, but useful – the roll-away separator, which usually just flaps about annoyingly until you get it in place, is in grooves making it quick and easy to use. Slightly boring fact, but you’ll appreciate it once you use it. The ‘4’ and ‘4 Tech’ models come with a Luggage Area Rail & Partition System. The bar and rail is a great feature, and can be slid back and forth to hold your gear in place, while the rubbery net partition (for dogs and luggage), can be used in either the boot area or clipped in place further into the car once the rear seats are folded. Very handy, and a nice that it’s standard on these models.

KIA Cee'd Sportswagon review boot space multi

The only negative I could really find was that the three-stage heated seats were really slow to heat up and even at maximum temperature just didn’t feel warm enough. The other drivers and a few different passengers noticed this too, so it’s not just me being picky here.

The Sportswagon’s rear capacity is excellent at 528 litres standard, and 1,642 with the rear seats folded. That’s quite a bit more than the Ford Focus Estate (406 – 1,502 L), Volkswagen Golf Estate (505 – 1,495 L) and the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer (1,550 L). The Kia has the same space as the Hyundai i30 Tourer as they are shared-parts-companies.

Satnav and other functions of the main screen on the KIA C'eed

I’ll talk about how the interior is when it comes to driving the Kia later on. It’s got to be said though, if I was looking around at top-range mid-sized cars, at this point that plush interior is seriously winning the Sportswagon over for me.

Engine and gearbox

The Cee’d Sportwagon has just two engine options; a 1.4 litre turbo diesel or a 1.6 diesel with variable geometry turbo. Actually though, the 1.4 is only available on the lowest-spec ‘1’ C’eed – while the others, including our ‘4 Tech’, come with the one point six. It has to be said, Kia have done exceptional things with this engine.

No matter where I used the car, from motorway runs to city driving to winding, hilly country roads, the sixteen-hundred was absolutely suitable. It is smooth, quiet and easily powerful enough to keep you happy. With 126 bhp at 4,000 rpm I found the high power band (for an oil-burner) fun to play with on winding lanes, and the 192 lbs/ft (260 Nm) torque from just 1,900 rpm means plenty of get-go in urban surroundings.

A respectable of power from such a small unit there may be, but what’s the fuel economy like though? I had someone the other day tell me they were looking at getting a one litre small car next, simply because it was good on fuel. No need for that, I remarked, as the Cee’d proves larger engines can be almost as good on fuel as a small car, plus you’re not having to thrash it on a longer run to keep up with the traffic.

KIA Cee'd sportswagon engine bay

Our test car was, as mentioned, the 1.6 CRDi in six-speed manual, and the miles-per-gallon stats for it are about to blow your mind people. 53 mpg urban, 64 combined and over 70 extra urban. Yep, you read that correctly and you do not need to visit the opticians. I’ll put it into words just in case eh; Seventy miles per gallon. ‘Pah’, you may scoff, ‘manufacturer economy figures are usually optimistic to say the least, that won’t be correct’. Well, I’d agree with y’all too about that normally, except here Kia were by all accounts correct.

After a proper hammering of the Sportswagon around some steep, twisting roads in Yorkshire, I couldn’t get the average below 40 mpg. On any kind of stretch of road where  I relax and select as higher gear as possible, the ‘live’ digital readout bar – which topped out at 60 mpg – will often read mid-fifties to past sixty. City driving would return late forties, even if I was driving in impatient mode. Brilliant economy you’ll agree, and the engine is a lovely piece of engineering.

A quick word on the manual 6 ‘box. Favourable stuff includes a fairly short-throw between gears, a nice positive clacky-ness (technical term there) when selecting any gear, and a long sixth for good economy at speed. No negatives of note either.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

The Kia feels way more refined to drive than it… should. Since when did mid-sized cars offer such a complete handling package as this? Since now I guess. The chassis and suspension system on the Cee’d Sportswagon is superb. Kia really are pushing to make some of the most desirable cars in their categories right now, and the Sportswagon’s handling is just another way for Kia to back that up

Image shows the Kia Cee'd Sportswagon on the road

This new Sportswagon has a 51% stiffer chassis than the old Cee’d, plus fully independent suspension all-round. From the blurb in the press-pack, Kia state that they ‘demanded… all-European models should not only look and feel European but should behave European too’, and they’ve achieved that in spades it would seem. They apparently took into account the massive mix of roads we have to deal with here, the road surface’s – mostly terrible if you happen to live in Britain – and the sportier feel we’re used to by having lower spring rates but a softer damper setting, giving the best of both worlds – sporty but comfortable.

Written word and the real world are two very different things, and as always we test the caliber of their press-pack wording. Y’know what though, they’re actually talking the talk and walking (or driving) the walk. The Sportswagon holds the road well when pushing through bends in a spirited way, and it’ll make you smile when you get just the right gear, a wave of torque sweeping you around that sharp, steep left-hander, the Cee’d’s sporty suspension and low-profile tyres keeping you confident.

Image shows Kia Cee'd Sportswagon being driven

If you’re a being a total plank and push a too much, the electronic safety stuff such as  stability control (ESC) and brake-force distribution (EBD) will kick in enough to save you from much embarrassment. As always, the ESC and EBD aren’t some magical tool that’ll save you, so if you do decide to drive like a brain-dead prat don’t be surprised if you awaken upside down in a ditch.

I’ve got to mention the brakes at this point – they are excellent. A lot of cars now come with a brake assist system (BAS), which the Sportswagon has too. The car will monitor how hard you’re pushing that brake pedal at what speed, and once it reaches a certain point the Kia will haul on the brakes as hard as possible. I actually needed this at one point as I came up to set of traffic lights at around fifty miles per hour and they unexpectedly changed to red. Jamming hard on the brakes, the Kia got just a tiny bit squirmy at the rear before the EBD righted things, but there was zero slipping and it stopped unbelievably quickly for a ‘normal’ car. Was I impressed? Yup.

Sport style pedals on the KIA Cee'd

This engine pulls so well I couldn’t quite take it in at first. Instead of the power waning or slowing at motorway limits, the C’eed’s 1.6 just keeps going and going. Reaching 100 mph is an absolute breeze, and should you be in a legal position to do that kind of speed (Autobahn run anyone?), it’d sit very comfortably and quietly there all day – a surprisingly good cruiser in fact.

The fact there’s cruise control is no biggie of course as most cars have it now, but there’s a Speed Limiter too. Just get up to speed and set it, and it’ll show up as a yellow line. The limiter in fact works well, and will keep you from straying over in those evil ‘safety’ camera zones . If you’re childish and bored too, try getting up to speed as fast as possible in any gear and see how quickly the limiter will kick in. Fun times.

KIA Cee'd sportswagon steering wheel controls

Town and city driving is a breeze too, as the Kia’s trick Flex Steer System lets you select the ultra-light ‘Comfort’ setting, meaning the steering weight is set to ‘little finger’ mode where you can park and steer around obstacles with absolute ease. The Sport setting gives a way more weighted feel for fast straight runs, while Normal is for your average stuff. A little pointless on this car, and I left it in ‘normal’ for the vast majority of journeys, but it’s there if you want it.

The Sportswagon’s suspension soaks up the awful surfaces found on any average U.K. road nicely, and pot holes or those senseless speed bumps are coped with better than I expected. That’s not to say it’s Bentley Mulsanne comfortable, but If I’d bought the Sportswagon expecting a good degree of sports and comfort, I’d be happy enough. With regards to layout, the Kia is very ergonomically designed for the driver and everything is easy to see, reach and use.

Kia Cee'd Sportswagon shown parked up

The 4 Tech has Kia’s Parallel Park Assist System (PPAS) system too. It’s completely easy to use (you control just the clutch and brake) and works superbly, usually parking within only a few inches of the kerb and gets into spaces you think it won’t. There should be a warning attached though; ‘Warning, PPAS will turn you into a lazy driver’.

Another tech features is Kia’s Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG), which cuts the engine when you slow to a stop and have it in neutral. Pressing the clutch or the brake a few times re-starts the engine. It’s a smooth-enough system and doesn’t hinder progress, but if it isn’t something you like using, you can always simply press a switch to turn it off. The ‘Intelligent’ part comes into play to stop the ISG working if the it detects engine temperature isn’t warm enough or the air conditioning is on, and if you’re using a lot of power (music on loud and heating on full etc) it’ll re-start the car automatically itself.

KIA C'eed sportswagon on cobbled street


The top of the range Kia Sportwagon 4 Tech manual we tested is priced at £25,260. Configuring other estates as closely as possible to the 4 Tech, the results were that the VW Golf Estate Sportline BlueMotion 1.6 TDI 105PS manual came out at just over £29,000, the Hyundai i30 Tourer Premium 1.6 CRDi manual was £24,490 (but without a self-park feature), and the Ford Focus Estate Titanium X 1.6 TDCi 115PS £26,870. So, it’s absolutely a heavyweight contender for close rivals, both in terms of tech spec and certainly, price. The Sportswagon feels it’s worth every penny, and Kia have obviously gone to great lengths to insure a low price without quality compromise.

Kia Sportswagon 4 Tech verdict & score

There are very, very few things I can find fault with on the Kia Sportswagon 4 tech, aside from a slightly characterless exterior and heated seats that don’t get very warm. Its well-designed, superbly quality interior and high-end technology makes you feel you’re in a car worth much more, it’s a real pleasure to drive with a good handling set-up, alongside that torquey 1.6 CRDi unit, and the fuel economy is outstanding. Overall an impressive – even exceptional – car.

Do you own a Cee’d, or any other Kia? What do you like about yours? Drop us a comment!

Exterior (Sportwagon)  7.5
Interior (4 Tech)  9
Engine (1.6 CRDi)  8.5
Gearbox (manual)  8
Price  8.5
Drive  8.5
Overall Score  8.5 / 10 

Stats ‘n stuff

Model (as tested)  2012> Chevrolet Captiva LTZ 2.2 VCDi Auto
Spec includes  All-round power auto windows, leather upholstery, auto panoramic roof, 3-stage front heated seats, 10-way electric adjustable driver seat, sat nav/entertainment system with reverse camera and self-park, bluetooth connectivity, electric auto folding wing mirrors, Xenon cornering lights, dual climate & air conditioning, hill-start assist, lane departure warning See Kia Cee’d Sportswagon spec sheet for more
Options you should spec  N/A
Price (as tested)  £25,260 on the road
Engine  Diesel, 1,582cc in-line 4-cylinder, 16 valves, VGT turbo
Power, Torque, CO2  Power: 126 bhp (94 kw) | Torque: 192 lbs/ft (260 Nm) | CO2 (auto): 116 g/km
Drive, Gears (as tested)  front wheel drive, six-speed manual
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, EuroNCAP  Max speed: 120 mph (193 kph) | 0 – 60 mph: 10.8 seconds | Not tested by Euro NCAP yet, but Cee’d 5-door hatchback achieved 5-star rating, so we expect it’ll be the same.
Fuel economy (mpg)  Urban: 53.3 mpg, Extra Urban: 70.6 mpg, Combined: 64.2 mpg
Weight (kerb)  1,547 kg (3,410 lbs) max. kerb weight
Websites  Kia UK, Kia USA, Kia Canada, Kia Europe, Kia Worldwide

Read more KIA reviews here

Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Jason Fanthorpe, Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

5 responses to “Kia Cee’d Sportswagon 4 Tech – Gadget-packed estate offers value, decent handling and high economy”

  1. The Magic Rat

    Hi Chris

    Having just recently purchased a Kia Soul Quantum (exact model you reviewed, manual CRDi) I‘m now planning on replacing my reliable but ageing Mitsubishi Grandis. The Kia seven year warranty is a head turner in it’s own right but each vehicle in their range more than holds it’s own against the competition in terms of styling, when you combine this with price and features it all suddenly becomes weighted in Kia’s favour.

    I look forward to reading your take on the new Carens although I am having second thoughts about opting for another seven seater as the Soul being a kind of mini SUV is proving hugely practical and having recently turned fifty I’m keen to hand back the ‘Dad’s Taxi’ sticker to my kids (and other parents).

    I would like to compliment you on the superb design layout of your review pages and exquisite photography. I am a long term fan of Parkers review site but theirs looks quite antiquated in comparison. I enjoy your informal but highly informative writing style and I particularly like the single page format. I’ll hold back a little on the photography comments in case your ‘snapper’ demands more money but suffice to say it’s a master class on how it should be done.

  2. Barry Mitchell

    I am the proud owner of a 1 year old Ceed 4 Tech Sports Wagon, and am very pleased with it. To date after 4 tanks I haven’t managed to get 50 mpg though. Do you know how to delete entries from the Sat NAV, as I can’t find any details in the manual how to do it??

  3. Karl

    Kia threw the kitchen sink at these 4 Tech’s, I’m not sure you could think of anything else to specify. My son is now searching for a used CRDi hatchback and hoping to buy private as the dealers have gone loopy with pricing.

    I think the new strategy is list for what the others are selling for which is fine providing some muppets don’t over price a few cars, which seems to be the case. If a car is the right price it should sell in six weeks, three months on and I think you’ve got your sums wrong!

    PCP’s have annihilated private sales, they are like hens teeth on Auto-trader.

    Moaning over, I’m going to read some more of these great reviews.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: