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Is our top-spec car really £8k better than the entry-level one? - 14 November 2018
Really? £27,000? You can get an [insert supposedly more premium rival here] for that!” It’s a phrase I’ve heard more than once when people ask about the top-spec Kia Ceed I’m running. It’s a fair point when you think that £27k will very nearly get you into a base Audi A4.
My stock advice is that more modest trim levels better balance necessary equipment and list price. But it’s not a view shared by buyers. Manufacturers are increasingly finding that the higher trim levels are the most popular choice, particularly when packaged into a PCP deal.
As luck would have it, we had an entry-level Ceed in for a separate test, so I leapt at the chance to get them together and see if my First Edition spec could justify its £8000 premium. First off, let’s look at appearance, inside and out. The Ceed isn’t the most attention-grabbing hatch, but it majors on classy understatement.
The entry-level car obviously retains the same basic shape, but a few key design elements are missing.
For example, it has the same LED running lights as the top-spec car but ditches the full LED headlights in favour of less premium-looking halogen bulbs. The door mirrors, as well as losing their auto-folding mechanism, ditch the LED indicators and puddle lights of the range-topper. The wheels are an inch smaller, too, and there’s no privacy glass.
Nothing dramatic, then, but the changes are enough to give the Ceed less kerb appeal, to my eyes. But it’s the interiors that most set the two trims apart – not just the way they look but also the way they feel. Soft leather upholstery, padded door inserts and glossy plastics are replaced by a notably less tactile and more austere environment. Little details make all the difference here, too, such as the cool white LED interior lighting of my car swapped for dull yellow bulbs.
Of course, my Ceed has far more standard kit, but the base Ceed isn’t totally spartan. There’s still a touchscreen (albeit with an inch lopped off the display and no satnav), cruise control, DAB and a rear-view camera, but the seats have manual adjustment and the air-con isn’t automatic. For reliable, simple transport, it’s utterly fit for purpose. The differences on the road are perhaps more surprising.
It’s the cheaper Ceed that’s more comfortable overall, with the extra inch of tyre sidewall allowing for greater bump absorption at lower speeds and less road noise.