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Kia Ceed review

Kia Ceed review
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Good ride and handling
Generous equipment
Class-leading warranty

Our Rating 
Engine performance
Touchscreen location
Limited options

Kia Ceed cornering

The Kia Ceed is one of the firm’s best-selling cars, and the third-generation model is a hatchback front-runner

If you’re in the market for a family hatchback, the Kia Ceed should be on your shortlist. It’s well priced, good to drive and has all the latest technology. It’s important not to be wooed by models higher up the Kia Ceed range which come with every conceivable item of equipment, though: unlike some rivals, the entry-level model offers the same amount of practicality, but it also has a decent amount of kit. What’s more, it’s arguably more comfortable to drive than sportier models which ride on bigger wheels. Add in the attraction of Kia’s seven-year warranty, and the Ceed is a strong contender in the compact hatchback class.

6 Feb, 2019


Kia makes a big point of emphasising how the Ceed was designed at its European HQ in Frankfurt, Germany, for European tastes. A design evolution of the previous car, the Ceed is a pretty handsome, if generic interpretation of the modern compact hatchback. Simple surfaces help draw your attention to Kia’s established graphic elements – the ‘tiger snout’ grille and the high-tech headlamps. The LED daytime running lights within are standard across the range, and ape the square block shapes that were introduced on the GT model a few years ago. They stylistically link the car to the flagship Stinger saloon, too. 16, 17 and 18-inch alloys are available, with the former built for comfort and efficiency, and the latter built for the slightly more performance focused Ceed GT.

The Ceed is built on Kia’s new ‘K2’ platform. That means it's 20mm wider (1,800mm) and 23mm lower (1,447mm) than the outgoing model. Its wheelbase remains the same at 2,650mm, with the front overhang shortened by 20mm (to 880mm), and rear overhang extended by 20mm (now 780mm), helping to make the car look a little more sporty. The new platform helps improve the Ceed’s packaging, too, giving a bigger boot, at 395-litres with the seats up and 1,291 litres with them folded down. You’d be hard pushed to match those sort of capacities in any other family car this side of a Honda Civic or Skoda Octavia.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The fit and finish of the dashboard is pretty high – although the 7 or 8-inch infotainment screen looks a bit lost, like it’s just been stuck on the dash top. The Ceed 2 is the only model that gets the seven-inch screen, but the system works well and supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The screen’s resolution lags behind those of VW Group cars, though. Unlike some carmakers, Kia has elected to keep a large number of core functions separate from the screen, retaining buttons and knobs for things like climate and volume control, which remain easier to use when on the move.

Getting the spec right of your Ceed is a little tricky because Kia doesn’t offer many option packages – if you want the uprated JBL stereo for example, you have to splash out on a higher-end Ceed, rather than just ticking the option box and modestly upping your monthly payment. The only tech option available in fact is the addition of a dash cam.


So far, the only Kia Ceed we've tried in the UK is the First Edition model with a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, although we have sampled both the manual and auto gearboxes.

The changes Kia has made to improve the Ceed’s driving dynamics have paid off. Where the previous model was comfortable enough, it wasn’t much fun, but that has all changed now because the latest car rides and handles nearly as well as a Volkswagen Golf.

Kia Ceed vs Volkswagen Golf vs Hyundai i30

It’s compliant and soaks up lumps and bumps well, although larger imperfections will still upset the Kia where the Golf remains composed. But at the same time, body roll is well controlled, the steering is direct, and there’s lots of grip. The Ceed can't rival the class benchmark, the Ford Focus, for the way it drives, but the Ceed still rewards being driven hard in a way that the previous version – and even its sister car, the Hyundai i30 – simply doesn’t.

It’s a shame then that the auto model’s dual-clutch transmission isn't our choice. The gearbox isn’t as swift to change, nor as smooth at low speed, as the DSG in the VW Golf, although its software tuning is better than that of the same gearbox when fitted to the Hyundai i30. We’d choose a manual Ceed instead, although the same is true of the Golf, because, like the VW’s DSG, the Kia's DCT occasionally delivers clunky shifts. But on the whole it’s smooth and swaps its ratios neatly.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The Kia's 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine isn’t as refined as the Golf’s 1.5-litre petrol, but it sounds okay and is flexible, too.

Refinement is impressive, with the Kia being very quiet at low speeds, although the larger 17-inch alloys on the First Edition transmit more road noise into the cabin when you’re driving at higher speed. The 1.4 engine wasn’t quite a potent as VW’s 1.5 during our tests, and does make some slightly coarse metallic sounds at higher revs. However, the testing of the engine also revealed that its 242Nm of torque is developed low down, pulling the car along quite happily at just 1,500rpm.

We’d also be tempted to try to the 1.0 engine, as the Ceed is at its best when being driven gently. For more performance-minded drivers, the Ceed GT ‘warm’ hatch has its own, bespoke chassis tune, and can be had with a 201bhp 1.6 petrol engine, as it did when the original Cee’d hatchback debuted back in 2013.

The two diesel units are familiar from their use in Hyundais, and are also notable for their low-down torque that makes light work of getting the car underway, particularly in stop-start urban traffic. However, we’d still opt for the smaller petrol engine, as it offers up similar power to the less potent diesel.


In addition to plenty of equipment that boosts comfort and convenience, the Ceed comes with a whole suite of safety kit as standard. Six airbags are standard on all Ceeds, as is High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keeping Assist and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist – City. Pedestrian detection is available on all manual versions from the Ceed 3 upwards, and as part of an optional Advanced Driving Assistance Pack on Ceed 2 and Blue Edition, versions of the 3 and GT-Line fitted with the automatic gearbox.

In a first for Kia, the Ceed First Edition and GT-Line S automatic models come with Lane Following Assist that detects road markings to help keep the car in the centre of its lane on the motorway, and controls acceleration, braking and steering.

At the time of writing, the Ceed awaits its date with Euro NCAP’s concrete wall, but it would be fair to expect a high rating. Likewise, the latest Ceed is too new to feature in our annual Driver Power survey. However, the Kia brand fares well, with a score of 90.97% and eighth place overall in the 2018 survey. The result is actually a drop of five places from third overall in 2017, although Kias were rated in runner-up positions in the key categories of practicality and boot space, and infotainment last year.


Kia has remained the benchmark for UK car warranties since 2007 when it launched the original Cee’d with a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. That warranty is applicable to all new Kia models, including the new Ceed, and it’s free to change it to the car’s subsequent owner. The mechanical warranty is supported by a 12-year anti-perforation warranty and a five-year paint warranty.


The Ceed’s service intervals are pretty standard, and set at every year or 10,000 miles for petrol engines, or 12 months/20,000 miles for diesels. Buyers can opt for Kia Care service plans, which include original, traditional, first three and five service plans. Kia also recently introduced the option to purchase services up to and including the seventh service, which matches the full length of the car’s warranty.


The Ceed is now a family of models, so if the standard Ceed five-door hatchback isn’t quite the right fit for your needs, there’s a conventional SW Sportwagon estate, sportier Proceed shooting brake and forthcoming XCeed crossover to choose from. That said, the Ceed’s latest platform has increased space in the cabin, both for passengers and luggage.


The Ceed measures 4,310mm long, 1,800mm wide (including the door mirrors) and 1,447mm long, making it a little smaller in every dimension than a Ford Focus. It retains the exact same wheelbase as the previous Cee’d, but some clever packaging means that space in the cabin is generally pretty good, with space for five adults at a push, plus an array of cubbies and pockets around the interior for oddments large and small.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

Kia claims that rear-seat space has been improved, particularly for the shoulders of adult passengers, while there isn’t much of a centre transmission tunnel to speak of, making foot room for a middle rear-seat passenger.

Up front, the driving position has been lowered a little when compared to its predecessor, too. However, this is actually better experienced on lesser models which don’t have the 10-way electrically adjustable seat – the manually lowered driver’s seat has a better range of adjustment and allows you to get a spot-on driving position. They don’t have a sunroof either, which makes headroom even tighter in high-spec models.

The seats and steering wheel offer comprehensive adjustment, and the view out front is good. However, the focus on perceived sportiness has included the design choice of very thick C-pillars, which compromise the view out of the rear.


The new platform means a larger boot. All models, including the sporty GT models, have the same boot capacity of 395 litres – more than a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. The boot a useful size and shape, too, with the boot lip being almost 90mm lower than that of its predecessor. The Ceed also has a split-level boot floor, either giving a deeper load space, or allowing you to hide valuables below. The rear seats split-fold 60:40.


The new Kia Ceed line-up features a mixture of all-new and updated engines, all of which are compliant with the latest 6d-Temp emissions regulations. The 1.0-litre T-GDi is a revised version of the unit used in other Kia and Hyundai products, hence why we’re confident in recommending it. The engine returns 48.7mpg and emits a slightly high 127g/km of CO2 in standard form, according to the WLTP tests. The entry-level 2 model has an Eco pack as standard. This comprises an Active Air Flap that opens and closes according to the engine’s temperature, cladding for the car’s underbody to improve aerodynamic efficiency, lower suspension and low rolling resistance Michelin tyres that fit the 16-inch alloys. This improves economy and drops emissions to 50.4mpg and 122g/km of CO2 respectively – although carbon dioxide emissions are a little high across the line-up compared to the class best, which is worth considering if you are looking at a Ceed as a company car and its impact on Benefit in Kind rates.

The Eco pack is also applied to the Ceed 2 with Kia’s all-new ‘U3’ 1.6 diesel engine. The lower-power version of the unit emits 99g/km of CO2, according to the stricter WLTP emissions tests, and returns a claimed 58.9mpg. The non-Eco pack, lower-powered diesel Ceed can be had with either six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT gearboxes. The manual returns a claimed 58.9mpg and emits 103g/km, while these figures slump a little to 57.6mpg and 108g/km of CO2 – another reason not to opt for the auto, unless you have to.

The higher-powered 1.6 diesel is manual only, but consumes the same amount of fuel as the lower-powered diesel auto, at 57.6mpg. CO2 emissions are 107g/km.

The remaining engine options are an all-new 1.4-litre T-GDi petrol, which replaces the earlier 1.6-litre GDi engine. This can also be had with both transmissions – returning 46.3mpg and 132g/km as a manual, or 45.6mpg and 127g/km as an auto. The higher performance option remains the 1.6 GDi petrol, albeit in updated form, and manages a claimed 38.2mpg and 155g/km of CO2.

Insurance groups

The Ceed sits in higher insurance brackets that some of its rivals, so that’s worth bearing mind as an added cost. The entry-level Ceed 2, with its 1.0 litre engine, sits in group 12, considerably higher than the less powerful or well equipped Ford Focus Style, which starts in group 5. The cheapest Ceed diesel sits in group 15, while the range tops out with the top-spec GT, which sits in insurance group 21. A top-spec Ford Focus Vignale is in insurance group 20, while, GTI models excluded, the Volkswagen Golf ranges from 7-19.


Residual values for the Kia Ceed are higher than some of its rivals, although they still fall behind the VW Golf in that regard. A long equipment list and Kia’s transferable 7-year warranty help to keep values strong, and after three years and 36,000 miles you can expect to get around 38-44 per cent of its value back. The exceptions are the First Edition models, which are worth around 34 percent of their new value, reflecting the higher list price that these models command.

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