Kia Cee'd 1.6 CRDi

Journalistic duties required me, the other week, to drive to the training ground of a Premier League football club. Now, a number of cars come to mind that would be entirely suitable for keeping an exciting - if, at the same time, slightly intimidating - appointment like that.

The Audi R8 supercar, for instance, that we reviewed in this space last week. You would, as we pointed out then, hardly look out of place nosing into a footballers' car park in one of those. A Bentley Continental, ditto. Indeed, one of those would probably find its own way to the nearest top-flight training facility, while you dozed in the back. Same goes for a top spec Range Rover Sport in white. And anything from the Porsche range, it goes without saying.

And which car did fate decree that I would be driving at the time of this mission? A Kia cee'd. Furthermore, a brown Kia cee'd. Turning up at a Premier League training ground in a budget Korean hatchback carries something akin to the social shame of arriving at a Buckingham Palace garden party in a pair of Speedos and a set of comedy breasts. Anyone's hands would have been clammy at the wheel imagining the sheer scope and scale of the embarrassments that lay in wait.

What would any top division footballer make of this car? Would they even recognise it as a car, rather than, say, the hood ornament for a car? The cee'd is a frugal runabout with a sensibly sized boot and exactly no fat-lipped chrome tail-pipes. What's the point of that? It doesn't even have blacked-out windows. And it costs about as much as most footballers spend on a pair of trousers.

Also, it's called a cee'd. It doesn't matter who you play for, this, by some measure, is the worst name a car has ever been given, in the entire history of car-naming, easily outstripping, for plain, jaw-dropping badness, even the Ford Ka, the VW Urban Fox and the Suzuki Cappuccino.

Cee'd would be bad enough if it didn't mean anything. The fact that there is an explanation for it makes it even worse. I pass on that explanation, in full. In its concept form, the cee'd was known as the ED, standing for European Design, connoting Kia's first attempt to build a car specifically with European customers in mind. Later, to further underscore this point, Kia joined on the initials (in French) of the European Economic Community (CEE), thus arriving at Ceeed. But that word seemed to have too many Es in it, so they lopped one off and put in an apostrophe, making Cee'd. And then they dropped the capital letter in pursuit of contemporary, digital chic.

I didn't make up anything in that last paragraph. Not one bit of it. It's all true.

On the positive side, when you say “cee'd”, it sounds as if you are saying “seed”, which is, at least, a recognisable word. But some would argue that this only lines the car up with the new vogue for auto-industry “greenwashing” - a cheeky notion that cars can seem to be cuddly, enviro-friendly puppies, if you paint them with bright enough colours and put stickers of leaves on them and name them after plant life.

Much more distractingly, by coming up with cee'd, Kia appears to have created a name that is practically beyond use by its customers, one of the difficulties being that you can't talk about, say, leaving your cee'd on a meter without awkwardly evoking the sin of Onan.

Yet this is a perfectly sound, possibly brand-altering car, designed in Germany, built in Slovakia. It's not meant to be a hilariously cheap take on the VW Golf or the Ford Focus. It's meant to be a direct and thrusting rival. It is firm but undemanding to drive and at no point did it seem about to split in half. Kia is so confident that it is being sold with an unprecedented seven-year warranty. The deal on the table, then, is 100,000 miles of dependable and almost completely anonymous motoring. There's a vast market for that.

Incidentally, I never did get to ease my cee'd between two Bentleys and a Lambo. At the training ground visiting hatchbacks were kept well away from the players' six-figure chariots. Club policy, apparently. Snobs.

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