I KNOW I have said this before but Kia really are going to have to change their promotional message – as it is simply no longer true!

‘The power to surprise’ is what the Korean manufacturer proudly proclaims, referring to how good their cars are… but I am no longer surprised when I get behind the wheel of one of their vehicles.

That is because I now expect Kias to be good cars as they have established a reputation for build quality, reliability and eye-catching design. I would be surprised if it were a BAD car!

Let’s face it, any car maker who offers a 7 year, 100,000 mile warranty has got to be confident of their products… and here in the UK we have clearly got the message, just look at how many Kias are on our roads.

I got the chance to review three versions of their best-selling Ceed model at a recent driving day starting with the super practical Sportswagon 1.4T-GDi.

It was in top range ‘First Edition’ spec so came with features like 17” alloy wheels, smart leather seats (powered with memory function for the driver, heated and ventilated in the front, heated in the back), cruise control, heated steering wheel, smart power tailgate, touchscreen DAB infotainment and sat nav, wireless phone charging and a whole raft of safety systems designed to keep you out of trouble.

At £27,805 on the road it is at the top end of the Ceed price range but compares well with similarly specced rivals which are a bit pricier. The 1.4 T-GDi Sportswagon will do 0 to 60 in a very respectable 8.8 second and go on to a top speed of 130mph while returning up to a shade over 52 mpg day-to-day.

If you want to spend £3,000 less then the ProCeed could be the one for you. I tried the 1.6 CRDi in high spec GT-Line trim and while slightly reduced bhp (134) meant 0 to 60 in 10 seconds there is still an ample top speed of 124mph and consumption figures which also mean saving money as this version of the Ceed will return up to 67.7 mpg.

You will be hard pressed to notice the difference in performance though and it still boasts most of the kit list mentioned above… although if it is performance you are after then the Ceed GT is the one to go for.

I tried out a bright red 1.6 TGDi (201bhp) and it was definitely a true hot hatch with 0 to 60 taking just 7.2 seconds and a great soundtrack from those impressively-huge rear pipes.

Top speed is up to a highly illegal 143mph and the GT handles well thanks to gas-filled struts and a fully independent MacPherson suspension system with rear anti-roll bar. There are also beefier brakes to deal with the improved performance via larger ventilated discs.

As you would expect there is a cost to that extra performance in fuel economy but the six-speed manual GT can still return up to a shade over 44mpg.

The 2019 Ceed range starts from £18,600 for the entry level version and no Ceed is poorly equipped, the 2 gets luxuries like air-con, cruise control, all-round electric windows, a 7.0in touchscreen with smartphone connectivity and a reversing camera. Upgrade to 3 trim and you’ll also get dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers and larger alloy wheels.

So maybe Kia now needs to rethink that strapline – perhaps The Power to Deliver?

For more information go to www.kia.co.uk.

By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth