Keep your mind – and eyes – open to take new look at Kia
DRIVING with your eyes shut is dangerous. That's a fact.
But if we could tell you to try it, just once, without the health and safety lot – or our solicitors – having a heart attack, then we'd suggest you give it a go in a new Kia, the Cee'd Sportswagon.
Obviously, don't actually try this at home, or, more importantly, on the road.
The South Korean manufacturer has had its fair share of mocking over the years – not least by the Top Gear team who used a version of the "Cee Apostrophe Dee" as their Reasonably Priced Car.
And most people would probably not think much of the brand – preferring to stick to the Fords, Peugeots and Volkswagens that they're familiar with.
But the lower half of Korea isn't adverse to exporting success – Samsung makes zillions from its headquarters in Seoul, and the hottest video – and dance – of the year is Psy, from South Korea. He's the bloke behind that Gangnam Style song.
But what's the link between a chubby 30-something doing a horse dance and a £19,000 car?
Well, I didn't really have one when I started – it just seemed like a good opportunity to shoehorn in a topical pop reference.
But, think about it – Psy was unknown to most of the world pre-July.
No one would've put even the smallest amount of money on him achieving success with a song which had the chorus "Eh sexy lady ... Op, Op, Op ... Oppan Gangnam Style".
And yet it made him the King of YouTube, an international phenomenon, and a fairly rich man to boot.
So it follows that Kia might do the same, of sorts.
If people are open-minded enough to try it, they might just be surprised and find they like it.
"But what's to like?" I hear you cry after such a drawn-out bit about a cheesy pop song. Well, let me give you some numbers from the Level 2 model we tested.
How does a 64.2mpg combined cycle grab you? Seven-year warranty? Just £30 road tax? Sixteen-inch alloy wheels? Six-speed manual gearbox?
Add to that Intelligent Stop Go Technology, Bluetooth voice recognition and music streaming, leather wheel and knob, cruise control, LED daytime running lights, three steering modes to stiffen up the wheel, from Comfort to Sport, and electric folding mirrors, and it's quite a package.
Not to mention it looks fantastic for a car in this bracket. No surprise when you learn that it was designed by the same chap that had his hand on the Audi TT drawing board.
Look at that front grille – it's intimidating, yet beautiful and manly – and almost a bit DB9-ish.
It's a comfortable, stable drive, with good room in the back and a sizeable boot – and will do 0-60 in under ten seconds to, er, boot.
But we need to stop thinking of Kia as a manufacturer that produces cheap cars to undercut the opposition. These are now quality motors that aim to compete.
It's unlikely to appeal to those who want to pimp their Ford Focus for maximum performance and street cred, but you'd have to a bit bonkers to not include this on your shortlist if planning to buy a new family car anytime soon.
And they all come with a full suite of airbags too, just in case you do end up closing your eyes ...