Pros: Neat styling, high quality interior, mature drive, lots of equipment for the money
Cons: Road noise at speed, diesel a bit clattery, petrol needs revs
Trim range: 1, 2, 3, 4, 4 Tech
Petrol engines: 1.4 98, 1.6 133
Diesel engines: 1.4 89, 1.6 126
Gearboxes: 6-speed manual, 6-speed DCT, 6-speed auto
What is the Kia Ceed?
This second-generation Kia Ceed, launched in 2012, is the South Korean firm’s European-built rival to the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. Designed by former Audi stylist Peter Schreyer, it replaces the first Kia Ceed launched to bright acclaim back in 2006.
The Kia Ceed range is centered around two 1.6-litre engines, a petrol and a diesel. The 1.6-litre GDi petrol produces an impressive 133hp thanks to variable valve timing, and can hit 62mph from rest in as little as 9.5 seconds. It’s a smooth and eager engine, but peaky: you need to rev it. A very light and quick-shifting six-speed gearbox helps here, as does the optional DCT dual clutch gearbox.
The 1.6 CRDi diesel also produces better-than-average power of 126hp, and has both much more torque at a much lower point in the rev range. It is an easy, willing engine that responds well to the throttle, although it can be rather clattery when cold and when revved. 1.4-litre diesel and petrol options are OK for the undemanding, but don’t really do the Ceed justice.
Ride and handling
The old Kia Ceed was a revelation at launch in 2006 and this one continues to be up with the class leaders. Immediately apparent is the smooth and pliant ride at low speed, with this classily damped feel continuing at speed and through potholes.
Handling is secure and stable. The Kia isn’t as agile as the Ford Focus but still makes good use of its expensive multi-link rear suspension. Electric power steering is a bit low-geared but works well if you choose the middle setting from its three weight options (adjusted by a button on the steering wheel).
Behind the wheel
Dashboard and driving position
The Ceed has a very stylish dashboard that could almost have come from an Audi: even the instrument lighting is the same as the German premium brand. Easy and satisfying to use, it’s all very well laid out too. The driving position offers a good range of adjustment but some might find the steering wheel a bit too far away.
The front seats are positioned high in the Ceed, and the sides are low, giving a good view out. We like how the bonnet’s been designed with raised contour lines that you can use as a guide: even better, 3 grade and above includes a colour reverse parking camera to back up the parking sensors.
Gadgets and technology
Buyers of mid-range Ceed 3 models will be surprised at all the gadgets that come as standard: full colour touch screen sat nav, Bluetooth, electronic speed limiter, reversing camera, even puddle lamps in the door mirrors. The LED daytime running lights give the Ceed a high-tech look on the road and we love the backlit Lexus-style instruments.
- Smartphone connectivity: A USB socket integrates with Apple iPhone and most major smartphones
- Navigation: Full colour touchscreen sat nav uses hard drive-based navigation
- Personalisation: Both telephone and audio integration displays menus from user’s devices on the car display screens. Personal settings for other vehicle functions are unavailable
- Audio: USB and 3.5mm sockets are standard on all models. Bluetooth audio streaming is also included on all cars but DAB is unavailable
- Internet: Kia does not offer internet functionality on any Ceed model
- Can it Tweet or Facebook: No, Kia has not included any social media functionality
- What is the standout gadget on the Kia Ceed: The colour reversing camera is an invaluable safety aid
Passenger space and practicality
For a family hatchback, the Kia Ceed is competitive. Rear seat passengers enjoy strong legroom atop a supportive seat base, with accommodation for three made easier by the near-flat floor design (no exhaust tunnel getting in the way). Thick C-pillars makes it a bit dark in there though, particularly if you go for an upper-grade model with smoked rear glass.
Kia matches the Volkswagen Golf here: if you choose a spacesaver wheel, hatchback capacity is 380 litres with the seats up. It’s a well-designed space too, wide and deep, stretching up to 1318 litres when the seats are folded. We liked the ‘quiet close’ tailgate: it’s been designed to close itself when you push it down, without the need to slam it. Kia also offers a Ceed Sportswagon estate.
The Kia Ceed is generally a refined car. The engines are reasonably hushed when cruising and the suspension works quietly. Wind noise is also well suppressed. The diesel is a bit clattery when cold and at low revs though, and there’s too much road noise at speeds above 50mph: you have to keep turning the stereo up.
Front, side and curtain airbags are standard, but there are no knee airbags on the Kia Ceed. ESC stability control is standard fitment on all engines, even the 1.4-litre ones, and includes an anti-rollback feature for starting off on hills. The 4 Tech model gets a lane departure warning system as standard (it’s unavailable on the others). Euro NCAP gave it a five-star rating with good scores in all areas.
Running Costs/Value for Money/Pricing
On paper, all Kia Ceeds deliver good fuel economy. The 1.6 petrol can do up to 52.3mpg so long as you avoid the big wheels of 4 grade, and the basic 1.6 CRDi 1 diesel can average 76.3mpg (better than the smaller diesel). Engine stop-start is standard on most of the 1.6-litre engine range – there’s a neat timer on the dash that kicks in each time the engine switches off, showing how much fuel you’re saving.
Kia is no longer a budget brand in terms of quality. The Ceed is better than big sellers like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, and is knocking on the VW Golf’s door in terms of fit and finish. Paint is deep, interior plastics are classy, the appearance is not unlike an Audi and we didn’t hear a single rattle in our time with the car. It has to be a quality car, mind: it has a seven-year warranty.
Pricing and equipment
Ceed prices are not as low as they were. They start at £14,400 for a 1.4 1, but 2 grade is preferable and that is £2000 more. The 1.6 petrol engine takes it up to £17,195 – you can get a 1.6 Ford Focus Zetec for less. The Ford doesn’t have the Kia’s standard spec though: the sweet spot of the range is the Ceed 3 grade. It costs from £18,995 but has a huge amount of equipment including full colour sat nav.
Value for money
Kia is noted for offering excellent value for money. While the Ceed isn’t as cheap as it once was, the overall value for money proposition is excellent. Not only is a seven-year warranty standard, but so too is the ample specification of all grades when compared to rivals. Good fuel economy further cuts costs.
Kia is looking to the Volkswagen Golf as its key competition: ambitious, but a sign of the firm’s intent. Many buyers will also consider a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra, perhaps more so than the Kia’s sister car, the Hyundai i30. We can’t help but think there may be some showroom competition from the Kia Sportage: prices are similar and that is a very stylish car – albeit hard to get hold of (and do a deal on) than this, due to demand.
Kia’s alternative to the VW Golf is almost as good in many areas. Not as cheap as it was, but excellent value for money – and judged on styling and interior design, some may even prefer it to better-selling alternatives.