Kia cee'd 1.6 CRDi Stop & Go review

It's only three years since Kia launched its European-designed and built range of cee'd hatchbacks and estates, but the Korean firm has already modified the styling and mechanics of the car as it continues its inexorable rise to become one of the major volume manufacturers.

This is not your usual mid-life facelift, then. As well as adding the new corporate grille that features on the Soul urban crossover, Kia has also refreshed the cabin and added extra standard equipment. Like the exterior, it looks similar but fresher, and includes a new steering wheel and gear lever, all-red dashboard illumination, revised centre console and audio system and dual-zone climate control.

In tandem with with revised rear light clusters, it's an effective transformation, the whole car looking sharper thanks to the new grille treatment. The cee'd has always been well put together but the interior revisions provide a feeling of greater quality and solidity.

Kia has also simplified the trim levels. The range starts with the cee'd 1, followed by the mid-range cee'd 2 and top-spec cee'd 3, while there's also a more efficient EcoDynamics model with standard equipment equivalent to the 2 specification

Chief among the mechanical changes is revised suspension, aimed at improving the ride quality, handling and steering response.

The other major novelty is the appearance of a stop and start system to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. Intriguingly, it's available with petrol and diesel engines – other manufacturers have so far only used similar systems in conjunction with petrol engines.

We tried the EcoDynamics diesel, which delivers 89bhp at 4,000rpm with 173lb ft of torque between 1,750 and 2,500rpm (there's also a 113bhp/188lb ft version of this engine), driving the front wheels via a new, six-speed manual gearbox. It's never going to set the world of fire but it's an accomplished and refined unit that rewards with a potential Combined economy of 67.3mpg and 110g/km of CO2.

As with rival systems, the Stop & Go set-up works unobtrusively, the engine restarting promptly as soon as you dip the clutch to engage a gear from rest. The only great difference to a petrol version is that there's a greater thump on re-start due to the diesel's compression-ignition.

The ride is less thumping over the roughest surfaces than before, adding to the overall refinement, while the revised steering feels more progressive and tactile.

Other engines include 1.4-litre, 89bhp and 1.6, 124bhp petrol. A four-speed automatic transmission is available with the 1.6 petrol and 113bhp diesel engines.

The three-door hatchback in the range, dubbed Pro_cee'd, will receive the same upgrades as the five-door and estate next year.

Despite all the changes so soon after launch, Kia's trump card of a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty remains. That, and a host of simple but effective revisions, make the cee'd hatchback and estate even more accomplished.

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