Review: Kia Cee'd Sportswagon (2012 – 2018)

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Great looking estate car that's also superb value. Huge boot. Useful economy.

Lots of road and engine noise. Not as rewarding to drive as some of its rivals. Engines are on the slow side.

Kia Cee'd Sportswagon (2012 – 2018): At A Glance

It might sound like something overtly sporty, but the Cee’d Sportswagon - to give it its full name - is actually Kia’s stylish family estate. Like the hatchback, the Cee’d SW is excellent value, with an affordable price and generous equipment levels. It also has a huge boot. 

The Cee'd SW has 1642 litres of load space – more than both estate versions of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus – and has lots of kit as standard, with entry-level models getting air conditioning, Bluetooth, DAB and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

Inside, the Cee'd SW is spacious, with lots of head and knee room in the front, while the rear bench will prove a comfortable fit for large adults, thanks to the high roof line and intelligent spacing between the front and rear seats. The interior isn’t as smart or as refined as the Golf, but it’s a big improvement over the cheap and dated interior of the old Cee’d.

All the buttons and controls have a much better feel and the simple dashboard takes just moments to master. Interior storage is plentiful, with lots of cubby holes and cup holders. The only drawback is the lack of peace and quiet, with high levels of road and engine noise.  

There's a good choice of engines in the Cee'd SW starting with a 1.4-litre petrol along with a newer 1,0-litre turbo petrol that has more power. But the best is probably the 1.6 CRDi which is relaxed on the motorway and economical too.

The Cee'd SW might not match its rivals for handling or straight-line performance, but it ticks enough of the estate boxes to make it one of the best for value and practicality. Indeed, the Cee'd SW is easy to use and extremely comfortable, while its generous equipment levels and seven-year/100,000 mile warranty make it ideal for those wanting a premium car feel, without actually paying the premium.

KIA cee'd 2012 Road Test

KIA cee'd SW 2012 Road Test

KIA pro_cee'd 1.0T-GDI 2015 Road Test


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What does a Kia Cee'd Sportswagon (2012 – 2018) cost?

Kia Cee'd Sportswagon (2012 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4505 mm
Width 1780–2035 mm
Height 1485 mm
Wheelbase 2650 mm

Full specifications

The cabin of the Cee’d SW is bigger than both estate versions of the Focus and Golf, with a maximum of 1642 litres when you lower the rear seats. That’s just 80 litres less than the Skoda Octavia Estate, which is one of the largest of the competition.

Accessing the load area of the Kia is easy enough, with a low load lip and large opening. There’s also useful underfloor storage, but we found the rear seats to be awkward to fold, due to their fiddly operation. However, once lowered, you do get a flat floor and this gives the Cee'd van-like practicality. 

The cabin of the Cee'd SW is spacious, with lots of head and leg room in the front. The rear bench will also prove a comfortable fit for large adults, with lots of knee and shoulder room. The interior doesn't match the high quality trim or smartness of a Golf or Octavia, but it’s a huge improvement over the cheap and plastic-hevay interior of the old Cee’d.

The driving position is particularly good and there's lot plenty of adjustment in the seat with reach and height adjustable steering. This means it takes just a few seconds to get settled behind the wheel while the large wing mirrors and huge windscreen provide lots of all-round vision. 

All Cee'd SW models are well-equipped with air conditioning, steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth with voice recognition and DAB all fitted as standard. Higher spec models get a seven-inch colour touchscreen and navigation, which is also one of the easiest to use in this class. 

Equipment from launch (September 2012):

All models from the ‘1’ feature a comprehensive list of standard equipment, including luggage area under-floor tray and side tray, a retractable and removable load cover, a boot light and a rear 12-volt power socket and roof rails. Also standard are electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment and a height-adjustable driver’s seat, air conditioning, steering wheel-mounted controls, front electric windows with auto up and down function, daytime running lights, remote central locking, cooled glovebox, flat-folding 60:40 split rear seats, ambient front lighting, an iPod-compatible audio system with radio and CD player, USB port and Bluetooth connectivity, ESC and VSM, HAC (Hill-start Assist Control), six airbags, speed-sensitive auto door locking and alloy wheels on all 1.6-litre versions.

Cee’d Sportswagon ‘2’ adds cornering lights, LED daytime running lights and rear combination lamps, electrically folding and heated door mirrors with LED indicators and kerbside lights, leather trim on the steering wheel, gearshifter and handbrake, greater use of chrome highlights, a rear centre armrest, all-round electric windows, luggage net, cruise control with speed limiter, reversing sensors and the Flex Steer function. 

Cee’d Sportswagon ‘3’ has in addition privacy glass, automatic headlights with a ‘follow-me-home’ function, rain-sensing front wipers with de-icing elements, a height-adjustable front passenger’s seat, electric lumbar support on both front seats, black and silver seat cloth, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone automatic air conditioning with two-step air-flow control and a seven-inch touchscreen satellite navigation with European mapping, UK postcode entry with built-in colour reversing camera.

Cee’d Sportswagon ‘4’ introduces the luggage area rail and partition system and barrier net, larger (17-inch) alloys, exterior illumination on the front door handles, black leather seats with contrasting grey inserts and three-stage heating, a heated steering wheel and electronic parking brake, an engine stop/start button and smart entry system,  rear air ventilation, a premium centre console with sliding cover and a speed and multi-function LCD high-definition colour display, while the cee’d ‘4 Tech’ is distinguished by its panoramic sunroof, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory, Parallel Park Assist System including front parking sensors, Lane Departure Warning System and Xenon adaptive front lighting system with automatic levelling.

Child seats that fit a Kia Cee'd Sportswagon (2012 – 2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the Kia Cee'd Sportswagon (2012 – 2018) like to drive?

The engine range consists of a 1.0 and 1.4 petrol engines, with 100PS and 120PS plus a 1.4 1.6 diesel with either 90PS or 135PS. The most popular powertrain is the 135PS 1.6 CRDi, returning an official 72.4mpg and 102g/km of CO2. All engines are fitted with a six-speed manual, with the option of a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.

None of the engines are particularly quick, but they're smooth to drive with decent levels of torque and predictable power delivery. All of the diesels are sprightly in the lower gears which means they're good for driving around town, but they quickly run out of puff. As a result you have to push the Cee'd SW rather hard to get up to speed on the motorway and even the most powerful versions of the 1.6 becomes quite vocal above 3500rpm.

Like the Cee’d hatchback and closely related Hyundai i30, the SW rides and handles best on its standard spec 15-inch wheels. As you'd expect, the handling is slightly better and the ride slightly worse on 16-inch wheels while the 17-inch alloys with 225/45 R17 tyres provide the best drive along with the hardest and most uncomfortable ride.

The Kia is comfortable and composed on the motorway, but lacks the sharpness and fun of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf Estate. Kia’s Flex Steer system – standard on 2 trim models – does allow the driver choose from three levels of power assistance to the steering - comfort, normal and sport – but the differences in handling is miniscule.

That said, few Cee'd SW buyers will care about straight line speed or mid-corner grip. What does matter is that the Kia is a competent car at motorway speeds, with a good ride and minimal body roll in the corners. Neither speed bumps nor rough roads will unsettle the ride and - bar the occasional bout of engine noise - the cabin is pleasant enough for long trips. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.0T GDI 54 mpg - 120 g/km
1.4 47 mpg - 138 g/km
1.4 CRDi 43–67 mpg 13.0 s 109–148 g/km
1.6 CRDi 64–72 mpg 10.8 s 102–116 g/km
1.6 CRDI 72 mpg - 102 g/km
1.6 CRDi DCT 50–67 mpg 11.7 s 109–149 g/km

Real MPG average for a Kia Cee'd Sportswagon (2012 – 2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

36–59 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Kia Cee'd Sportswagon (2012 – 2018)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What's the most reliable used estate for £10k?

What are the best estate cars for around £10k that you can get? We want something that is reliable, comfy and with a few toys. We have a 2014 Golf GT TDI at the moment that we would replace.
A Honda Civic Tourer would be a good choice. It has a huge boot and is available with reliable diesel engines. Also consider a Skoda Octavia (or Superb, if you'd prefer something bigger), or a Kia Cee'd Sportswagon - the latter will have the remainder of its original seven-year warranty, provided it's been serviced correctly.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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