A whole generation of car fans from all over the world grew up watching old Top Gear. And before the age of YouTube, the only way you could see Tom Cruise or Cameron Diaz driving a cheap Kia hatchback was to tune in and watch the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” segment. This was before the age of the EV6 and the Stinger, so the Cee’d really did change people’s perception of the Kia brand for the better.
At the time, if you wanted a family hatchback, you bought a Ford Fiesta or VW Golf. But through hardcore testing, the Cee’d proved it could provide reliable transportation for less money. It was marketing genius. But whose idea was it?
Although this is never officially recognized, I feel like Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car was Jeremy Clarkson’s baby/idea. During this regular segment, he interviewed a celebrity and later showed a clip of him setting a lap around the Top Gear track. Of the trio of presenters, he’s the only one with a clear interest in politics and traditional journalism.
The original series used four different affordable cars. First came the Suzuki Liana, followed by the Chevrolet Lacetti, the Kia Cee’d, and finally the Vauxhall Astra. All four had their moment, but the Kia is my favorite.
The Cee’d became the official “Reasonably Priced Car” in Series 15 of old Top Gear, from 2010, all the way to 2013. In total, only 42 segments were, which is much lower than the Suzuki (66 celebrity laps) and Chevrolet (58 laps). However, the drivers were of a higher caliber and the laps were more entertaining.
The fastest star in a Kia
The all-time record in a Cee’d belongs to Matt LeBlanc (1.42.1), who we all know later became a Top Gear presenter. Rowan Atkinson and Michael Fassbender complete the podium. However, the most entertaining people in the Kia are Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. This was in Series 15, Episode 5, where James set a land speed record in the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. Tom nearly flipped the car, and you can watch the whole thing at the bottom of the story.
Anyway, this isn’t about what happened in 2010. The actual Kia Cee’d used on the show is still alive and being driven in the UK. It looks like any other Kia hatchback from that era, except it’s got a big Top Gear sticker on the side, a roll cage, and some Corbeau racing seats.
You’d think the owner is a millionaire who wanted a piece of automotive history. But no, he’s just some buy who found the car on eBay and bought it for £6,200 back in 2021. For authentication, it’s got a signature from Ben Collins, the original Stig, on the center console and another from Tiff Needell on the dashboard. Cool stuff!
The BBC has been trying to buy and scrap every car from the Top Gear specials it can to keep them from becoming collectibles associated with the Clarkson era. However, this one escaped.
Three Kia Cee’d hatchbacks were used for filming, and they were all owned by Kia, not the BBC. We know they liked to have a spare in case repairs were needed, but this third one is automatic in case the guest drivers couldn’t use the stick. All three cars used the same license plate “LC10 PHF” which is now registered to this auto, even though it’s technically not the one Tom Clear nearly flipped.
According to our records, only three stars drove the Cee’d automatic. here’s Amber Heard in 2011, rock star Alice Cooper and UK politician John Prescott. It’s important to point out that the auto made the car much slower, by over a second to 62 mph. Unless I’m mistaken, it would have been a 4-speed matched to the 1.6-liter engine.