My children asked me recently to take them to a local soft play centre and being a fun sort of dad I agreed with a smile. Now, I have to explain that my wife usually does this sort of thing, as I believe it’s a place where lots of ladies hang out drinking coffee and where lots of children are allowed to basically cause absolute mayhem on all that dare to enter what my son calls ‘The Bear Pit’.
Of course as a man, I thought ‘how bad can it be’. On arrival – the first hurdle was signing in my children and reading the two pages of Health & Safety documents and filling out all the information on my children – for example; DOB, age, any disabilities, any allergies, hair colour and so on.
Of course as a normal dad, I could not remember the exact DOB of both my children, and this was frowned upon very badly by the lady on the reception and also by all the ladies with children queuing behind me.
Once I had passed security clearance, I was led by my children to a large seating area where I was told to sit down by my daughter, buy a coffee and wait for a long time. Ok I said and what am I supposed to do in the mean time – should I join you? ‘My daughter’s eyes rolled and she responded with ‘Dad – trust me, you don’t want to come inside the ‘The Pit’.
If like me you have never been inside a place like this – boy will you be in for a shock when you do. The place was jammed packed with children and their mothers, grandparents and dads all running about chasing their children about with a big majority of those children just screaming with joy. It was for me total mayhem, but for everyone else, it seemed quite normal.
After half an hour of so, I was so bored that I started reading the array of ladies magazines that was spread all over my table and after reading a few – I was even more depressed so I decided to go and join in with my children. As I entered ‘The Pit’ I was greeted by a barrage of small plastic balls – which I am told by my son were hand grenades and I quickly needed to slip into deep undercover and follow him immediately into the safe haven of the underground assault course.
On arrival I suddenly understood why as a dad you should ‘Never’ agree to go inside. This place was a labyrinth of holes, jumps, rope swings, and climbing frames. Let’s not forget about the holes – they were clearly only big enough for a 4 year old, let alone a guy in his 40s. Also, once you enter, there is only one way out! You have to make it to the top and slide back down to the bottom.
Of course I had an expert with me ‘my son’ – so as I started my climb whilst immediately being trodden on by lots children climbing over me in a reenactment of The Bridge over the river Kwai – including my own children. I overheard one girl ask my daughter; ‘is that your dad?’ My daughter responded with; Yes – but he is old now has trouble getting up the stairs at home’.
Funny how your own children suddenly turn on you when you are embarrassing them by holding up everybody else who wants to make a fast upward climb. I finally managed to get about half way up to a platform where I met another dad who looked like he had been there since 1980 and with no prospect of getting out – things started to look bleek.
When I did finally manage to reach the top – I slid down the slide and quickly made it back to my table. Of course my arms are now where my legs were and I will need new hips sometime in the future along with a new spine after all the children that used me as a bridge to get to their destination.
So, my advice to all you father’s out there. By all means – take your child or children to the soft play area, but do not enter ‘The Pit’ instead just sit there and wait while drinking coffee and reading ladies magazines that will make no sense to you whatsoever.
This of course brings me neatly onto this month’s road test of the brilliant Kia Cee’d Sportswagon.
My test car was fitted with the new 1.0 litre three-cylinder direct injection turbocharged petrol engine. This engine was designed to meet the needs of the ever changing emission standards. The Cee’d Sportswagon is available with up to 5 engines all of which meet EU6 emissions regulations. In 1.0 litre form – it has a top speed of around 118mph and will get you from 0-62 in around 11sec and with 118bhp on tap – it is not as slow as you might think being an estate car. It also comes with a 6-speed gearbox that feels precise and willing.
On the road: The Cee’d has always felt very good on the road – and the fact that you are now able to carry all those extras in the Sportswagon version can only be a good thing. There are areas where it is not as good as some of its rivals, but I forgive it for that because for me it wins in many other areas like how it feels on the road and that’s down to Kia fitting a very expensive Independent Multi Link and Trailing Arm Type suspension – something you would not usually see on an estate car in a similar cost comparison.
Inside: Remember this is a car that only costs £21,120 OTR and that is value for money in my book. The interior is sharp looking and appealing – but some of the button placements could have been better placed. The driving position is also good and so is space in the rear. Boot space is this cars party piece with 510 litres of space (seats in position) and 1,642 litres with (seats folded)
There are also a array of standard features including; electric door mirrors, air conditioning, telescopic steering wheel adjustment, driver’s seat height adjustment, 60:40 split rear seats, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, ESP & Vehicle Stability Management, Hill Start Assist, six air bags and speed-sensitive auto door locking.
As for the exterior look – I like the newly designed front and rear bumpers. They give the sportswagon a sportier look along with the daytime running lights. This is not an ugly car, it’s a Cee’d with a better boot and more family function as an estate car.
Safety: Kia has always focussed on being ‘safety first’ standard features such as; Electronic Stability Control (ESC) & Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) & Brake Assist System (BAS), Emergency Stop Signalling, Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Let’s not forget that rigid bodyframe where 57% of the body is made from high-tensile steel and of course its five-star Euro-NCAP rating.
To sum up: A decent car that ticks most of the boxes in terms of an estate car that doesn’t cost the earth.
Price: £21,120 OTR not including fitted options
Top speed: 118mph
Economy: 57.6mpg (combined) emissions g/km (115)
Engine: 1.0 T-GDi
Power: 118HP at 6000rpm
Torque: 171Nm at 4000rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
My Verdict: 4 stars ****