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£16,640 when new
Kia wants its own look. But from the front the facelifted Cee’d looks more like a Focus than ever. Never mind, it’s more competitive with the Ford than ever. Its revised suspension makes the previously slightly chippy ride usefully more placid, and the cabin has had some better trims applied. Like Ford with its Econetic sub-brand (and every other maker with Eco-this, Greeno-that and Blue-the-other), Kia has got a new fuel-saving appellation, Ecodynamic. In the Cee’d’s case - sorry, apostrophe Babylon there - this brings an excellent all-new 1.6 diesel engine and a stop-start system. Actually all facelift 1.6 diesel Cee’ds come with this new engine, and a six-speed manual box. But the Ecodynamic is the best, because it shuts off and leaves you in peace when you’re paused in traffic, but restarts smoothly. It doesn’t cost any more than the regular mid-trim version - though you lose a few bits of equipment to compensate. Unfortunately the 1.6 petrol, the one everyone buys, has a five-speed box that leaves the engine turning at a speedy 4,250rpm at 85mph. The noise is like having your head strapped to a Magimix. So you know what to do.
£18,100 – £27,890
Ford Focus review: success in a hatch isn't just about the drive. The Focus has the rest of the bases well covered too.
£17,570 – £35,065
It’s the car that Top Gear staffers tend to recommend when asked ‘what should I buy?’ more often than anything else.
£16,320 – £29,660
This is the best family hatch Peugeot has ever made. Smooth, refined, and comfortable
£16,905 – £29,110
In standard form, the i30 is as comfy and effortless to own as small hatchbacks get. In i30 N hot hatch form, it's a brilliantly fun performance car that's still infused with a sensible warranty and a VFM price