Designed in Europe; built in Europe; sold exclusively in Europe, Kia’s most important car to date, the cee’d, hits UK showrooms today. Replacing the Cerato, it is the catalyst that will push Kia on to a three per cent overall UK market share and 100,000 sales annually.

In terms of packaging, quality, driving dynamics, safety, style and image, it takes Kia on to a level that matches or surpasses anything in its class in Europe. A C-segment five-door hatchback, cee’d is the first Kia to be designed in Europe and the first to come out of our new state-of-the-art factory in Zilina, Slovakia.

As a demonstration of faith in the quality of the car and the standards of workmanship in that new factory, cee’d is backed by a unique seven-year warranty. It covers the entire drivetrain for seven years or 100,000-miles and it is transferable to subsequent owners. The rest of the car, bumper-to-bumper, is covered for five years. There is even a five-year or 100,000-mile paint warranty, ten-year anti perforation warranty and, should the worst ever happen, a three-year roadside assistance package, all included as standard.

Though Kia may be moving up in the world, we haven’t forgotten where we’ve come from – or the many customers who have remained loyal to us through the years. cee’d will continue to deliver the outstanding value for money for which Kia is renowned. Prices start at less than £11,000 and stretch to just over £14,000, while the standard specification of every model is truly exceptional.

In cee’d, Kia does not just have a genuine challenger to the European class leaders, but a car that is better than them in many significant areas. Who else trusts their build quality and reliability enough to provide a warranty even close to that of the cee’d?

With its dramatic shift in style, European aesthetics, German engineering, unique seven-year manufacturer’s warranty and the value for money that’s always been part of the Kia buying proposition, it’s ideally placed to succee’d.

And the five-door model is not the end of the story. As we revealed at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, we will add a stylish estate later this year, while towards the end of 2007 we will reveal a sporty three-door version.

If you want a car to appeal to European customers, there’s only one place to design it – Europe.

That’s why the Kia cee’d was honed in Kia’s European design offices in Frankfurt, with input from the main design centre in Korea. The result is a thoroughly contemporary five-door design that slips seamlessly into the European C-segment landscape. At the same time, it echoes styling features highlighted on other Kia models, interspersed with the new Kia design DNA that will be phased into future models.

The clean design theme that characterises the exterior is carried through to the cabin, and the fit and finish and attention to detail are truly exceptional. It all adds to the car’s premium feel.

Thanks to a long wheelbase, wide track and tall roofline, cee’d affords up to five occupants an amount of space that is just as impressive as their surroundings.

The semi-bucket front seats have wide cushions and firm support with lumbar adjustment and active headrests as standard. The driver’s seat also has a standard height adjustment feature. A rake and reach adjustable steering column is also standard across the range.

The rear seats are split 60:40 to allow owners to vary passenger and luggage space. The cushions flip upwards and forwards into a vertical position, allowing the backrests to be lowered flat without the need to remove headrests first. A sizeable 340-litre boot can therefore be enlarged progressively to a maximum of 1300 litres.

cee’d is being offered with four modern and efficient petrol and turbodiesel engines from launch; has the comparative rarity in this class of independent front and rear suspension to the benefit of ride and handling; and is available with all the latest braking aids.

The engine line-up includes an all-new 1.6-litre CRDi turbodiesel, offered with either 90 or 115 bhp outputs; designed, engineered and manufactured in Europe, all are Euro-4 compliant. Five and six-speed manual gearboxes and a four-speed automatic are available, depending on model.

The full engine line-up also includes proven but updated 1.4- and 1.6-litre 16-valve petrol units offering 105 or 122 bhp, and later in 2007 a 140 bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel will be added. This range provides a comprehensive mix of performance and economy to suit all requirements and provides over 70 per cent segment coverage. Automatic transmission is offered with the 1.6-litre petrol engine, while the 2.0-litre diesel is unique in the range having a six-speed manual gearbox.

While most C-segment cars have a solid beam rear axle that compromises both ride comfort and roadholding (forces affecting one rear wheel are transmitted to the other), cee’d has the comparative rarity of fully independent rear suspension. In this respect, Kia targeted the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf as the benchmark cars to beat.

The result is truly outstanding ride and handling with excellent levels of refinement, thanks to the efforts taken to curb noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

Kia has collaborated closely with Michelin to develop tyres that minimise rolling resistance, and therefore improve fuel economy and emissions, yet optimising roadholding and refinement.

The stiff body shell of cee’d, allied to its long wheelbase and wide track, provide an excellent basis for stable and agile handling and superior ride comfort.

Kia’s latest motor-driven power-steering system is standard on cee’d to help save fuel while delivering maximum low-speed assistance and higher-speed feedback and responsiveness. Powerful all-disc braking delivers excellent stopping power. The anti-lock braking system features electronic brake force distribution, ensuring the stopping power is distributed to the wheels with most grip.

Electronic stability control (ESP) incorporating brake assist is available as an option on LS grade models from launch.

The Kia cee’d is one of the safest C-segment cars on sale today. Twin front and front-side airbags plus full-length curtain airbags are standard across the range. The front passenger airbag has a cut-off switch so that a rear-facing child seat can be safely mounted. Two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points are also fitted in the rear.

Intelligent active headrests are standard on all trim grades, minimising the risk of whiplash injury should the vehicle be hit from the rear – a rare thing in a C-segment car. In a rear-end collision the head rests move forwards to restrain the rearward movement of occupants’ necks.

In the UK, Kia will initially have a 10-model line-up based on three trim levels and four engines – 1.4- and 1.6-litre petrol units and two versions of our all new European-designed and built 1.6-litre turbodiesel. A 2.0-litre turbodiesel will be added to the range later in the year.

The high standard specification on the entry-level S grade includes air conditioning and an air cooled glove box, a fully-integrated MP3-ready RDS radio-CD player – a first for Kia – two-way steering column adjustment and a driver’s seat that has height and lumbar adjustment, front electric windows, central locking with deadlock, six airbags and active front headrests.

GS trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels instead of 15-inch steel rims, remote central locking, body-coloured electric and heated door mirrors, a metallic centre-fascia, six-speaker high-quality sound system and USB and auxiliary audio ports, which enable connection to a number of MP3 players and input sources. You can even play MP3 files directly from a suitably loaded USB stick. Full iPod integration arrives in summer 2007 – at no extra cost.

LS versions gain fully-automatic climate control with an air-quality system, rear electric windows, front fog lamps and half-leather upholstery.