A new small petrol engine lowers the entry price and brings more choice to the Kia cee'd range, while the new GT Line specification adds a sportier image to what is otherwise a discreet mid-life update.
In the Metal:
The Kia cee'd has won over nearly as many fans by its conservative styling as it has by its seven-year warranty, but Kia has updated its C-segment hatchback and added a new trim level. The aptly-titled GT Line specification gives the cee'd a more sporting look that is most easily recognised by its 'ice-cube' LED daytime running lights in the front bumper. Also different is the plastic mesh in the front grille, which is a more open design.
Larger side skirts have been added along the side of the car too, although they do look very much like an add-on, while the rear gets a specific GT Line bumper featuring twin exhausts and vertically stacked rear reflectors rather than the horizontal ones that appear on the standard cee'd. The boot lid also bears GT Line badging. The GT Line specification additionally features a specific new five split-spoke alloy wheel design that comes as standard in 17-inch diameter with the option of upgrading to 18-inch rims.
Inside there are new, sportier seats that offer slightly more side bolstering than the regular chairs, but stop short of being too sporty, thus remaining comfortable for everyday use. These also feature a different quilted fabric inlay with contrasting colour panels. Aside from these the remainder of the interior is as you would find in the regular cee'd and includes large, easy-to-read instrument dials and a pretty minimal centre console layout. Aside from small flashes of piano gloss black trim on the inner sections of the multifunction steering wheel and interior door handles the cabin is a mass of black plastic. The quality of this material is good though, and has all the appearance of being hard-wearing without feeling too cheap and scratchy. Rear passenger room is on a par with most of its main rivals such as the Ford Focus and Opel Astra, while boot space is a useful 380 litres and expands to 1,318 litres.
Despite the sporty intentions of the GT Line's style the cee'd remains softly sprung offering plenty of comfort on less polished road surfaces. However, over larger speed bumps it can almost feel too soft and seems to travel close to the bump stops at times. This is more noticeable from the rear seats. One aspect that Kia has worked on improving is reduced NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels and to give the Korean company credit, this has largely been achieved.
The driving position is comfortable, as is visibility thanks to the combination of a low scuttle and quarter lights. Main touch points like the steering wheel and gear selector feel good and whilst the power steering is light there is still enough feedback to keep a fair degree of connectedness for the keener driver.
The main talking point though is the introduction of Kia's new 1.0-litre T-GDI petrol engine. This turbocharged three-cylinder unit produces 120hp and 171Nm of torque, placing it pretty much on a par with similar offerings from the likes of Ford and Opel. Engine performance is smooth and feels refined even when revved a little harder, though it seems happier when less is required of it. Around town there are sufficient levels of pull from the three-cylinder engine and although it might not match a larger capacity diesel it doesn't fall too short, which may help sway some buyers who aren't overly convinced by the diesel option.
What you get for your Money:
Kia has priced the 1.0-litre T-GDI GT Line from €22,550, which is €1,900 more than the entry-level TX specification with the same engine. Although it isn't a huge price walk between the trim grades most of what you gain from the more expensive GT Line is focused on the exterior design, so if you're more concerned with a good looking car you'll see the value in it. The 1.0-litre T-GDI engine has emissions of 115g/km placing it in motor tax Band A4 with a rate of €200 per annum.
With this new Kia cee'd the Korean firm's T-GDI unit joins a growing number of small turbocharged petrol engines emerging in the C-segment. While its offering is not as polished from a mechanical perspective as some of its European rivals, the slightly lower pricing will appeal to many buyers, while the GT Line makes up for this on the style front.