Car Blog Kia Cee'd

Audio Upgrades

When car shopping for what turned out to lead to acquiring the Kia Cee’d, I didn’t have too many ideals. The musts were, it had to be an upgrade over the Suzuki Alto, under 7 years old, fewer than 50,000 miles, and thanks to do more longer distance journeys, it had to be a diesel. Due to most of my music collection still being on CD, it needed to have a CD player. In the end, I got a CD player, with FM/MW radio, and Bluetooth. Yet to test the aux in, but for some reason the USB doesn’t fully work.

That being said, I would have liked a built in sat nav, and despite wanting to avoid the need to dismantle half the dashboard, thoughts have turned a few times to aftermarket upgrades. A bit of research has uncovered that the factory fitted head unit (the bit with the buttons/controls etc.), is effectively two parts, the main box and a plastic fascia panel. The main box element appears roughly the same size as a double din sized aftermarket unit, and fitting kits appear widely available.

Cost is a problem, however. Aftermarket sat nav units cost upwards of £700 new for a brand such as Pioneer or Kenwood, which is well out of my max budget of £400. A few options then presented themselves, largely grouped into two categories, second hand or Andriod.

By Android, I don’t mean Android Auto, which allows you to control elements of your phone using the car stereo, but head units running on the Android operating system. Effectively mini computers in the dash board, these do everything you would expect, with other customisable features such as car diagnostic integration, and tyre pressure monitoring systems. Unfortunately, this itself present issues, as these units aren’t exactly getting glowing reviews online, largely due to varying degrees of Chinese build quality. Getting a clear picture of individual head units isn’t easy, as they aren’t the most common and reviews can be few and far between.

That said, some Youtube videos did highlight a few principles to follow, with going as high as possible on the RAM (a computer component), and choosing a branded product such as Xtrons or Atoto over something missing even a basic brand name. That being said, Erisin was a brand which consistently performed poorly.

So that leads me to the second hand route. So far, I’ve acquired a second hand Pioneer unit, but I’ve opted not to fit this as although largely in working order, the condition is poorer than expected. More recently, I stumbled across a second hand Zenec unit online, which I’ve ordered and hopeful will be a better option. I understand that Zenec are a German brand, but they don’t appear to sell many units in the UK.

Wrapping up for now, the car still has its factory fitted head unit in place. The Zenec unit will be fitted once an installation kit has been purchased, assuming it works OK. The Android avenue is still being explored, but will be one for another day.