£15,105 - £24,495 Price range
38 - 78 MPG
More than one million Kia Ceed models have been sold since the car went on sale back in 2006. But, in an extremely competitive class – that includes the VW Golf, Ford Focus and new Vauxhall Astra – an update was needed.
The changes range from the fairly minor (some slight exterior revisions and new interior trims) to major ones such as the addition of a new petrol engine. It takes the form of a super-efficient 1.0-litre three-cylinder, built as an answer to 1.0-litre Focus and Golf models.
The suspension has also been revised and extra sound deadening added to make the car more comfortable over long distances. The other major mechanical change is the option to specify a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that promises quick changes and little compromise in terms of running cost.
Space inside remains unchanged over the old model and all Ceeds come with five doors. Buyers looking for sportier looks should also consider the Kia Pro Ceed (a three-door version of the Ceed), while the Sportswagon estate is worth a look if you need a big boot.
Equipment levels have also been updated to include a raft of new safety features and an automatic parking system. All models come with air-conditioning, a Bluetooth phone connection and a DAB radio. One of the Ceed’s biggest selling points remains its class-leading seven-year warranty.
Cheapest to buy: 1.4-litre ‘1’ petrol
Cheapest to run: 1.6-litre ‘1’ diesel
Fastest: 1.6-litre GT turbo
Most popular model: 1.6-litre ‘2’ diesel
The perceived quality of the Ceed’s dashboard beats the class average, if not quite matching the honed-from-granite feel of the Volkswagen Golf. For 2015 the car gets chrome highlights around its instruments and while most of the controls remain the same they are easy to use and feel robust.
Ceed 3 models and above come with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system that now offers real-time updates for traffic, weather conditions and speed camera locations. It’s an easy system to use with conventional buttons that make it simple to navigate quickly. That said, it doesn’t integrate with your smartphone as intuitively as some and it does without Apple Carplay or Android Auto, which allows the screen to mirror the display of your smartphone.
Kia Ceed passenger space
There’s a wide range of adjustments that means most drivers should be able to get comfortable behind the wheel and there’s enough room in the front for an adult passenger to stretch their legs on a long journey. Rear seat space is also generous enough to accommodate tall adults, something that can’t be said of the Peugeot 308.
Kia Ceed boot space
The Kia’s 380 litre boot is a match for the Volkswagen Golf’s carrying capacity and usefully bigger than the 316 litres offered by the Ford Focus. All are beaten by the massive 590-litre capacity in the Skoda Octavia, though. Its hatchback boot lid means the Ceed is easy to load, but it would be even easier if the load lip was a little shorter. Maximum load capacity sits at 1,318 litres with the 60:40 split rear seats folded into the floor.
For the facelift model, Kia has adjusted the suspension and as a result the car is more comfortable at a cruise and better equipped for dealing with poor road surfaces. That’s not the case if you go for sporty GT Line trim, which comes with stiffer suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels that combine to make the car bouncier over bumps.
Tweaked steering and a new torque vectoring system sadly don’t catapult the Ceed to the top of the class for driving thrills. Reviewers report that the car still suffers from too much body roll in corners and that, although there’s plenty of grip, the steering’s too vague to give you a decent idea how much the front wheels have at any one time. That problem remains no matter which of the three (Normal, Comfort or Sport) settings you choose.
The new three-cylinder engine also brings improvements in comfort. According to reviewers it is one of the most refined they have tested – quiet at a cruise and free from the vibrations that normally afflict engines of this type.
Kia has given prospective Ceed owners plenty of engines to choose from and from 2015 all now have more torque and emit lower CO2 emissions. With those changes comes the all-new 1.0-litre petrol, while the top-of-the-range diesel can now be paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Kia Ceed petrol engines
The new 1.0-litre petrol is definitely the highlight of the range and an engine that was needed for the Ceed to compete on a level playing field with its rivals from Volkswagen and Ford. You get two versions to choose from with either 98 or 118hp. Both cost just £30 a year to tax and return fuel economy of 57.6mpg – making them cheaper to run than the larger, but more basic, 1.4-litre petrol. The addition of a turbocharger means they also feel quicker in everyday driving, but neither is what you would call fast and the more-powerful model takes 11.1 seconds to get from 0-62mph.
More power if you want it comes by upgrading to one of the two 1.6-litre petrols. The basic model produces 133hp, gets from 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds, costs £110 a year to tax and can return fuel economy of 52.3mpg.
By far the most powerful engine in the range is the 201hp 1.6-litre turbo fitted to the GT model. The GT gets from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds and has a top speed of 143mph, but drive at a more relaxed pace and fuel economy of 38.2mpg should be achievable. Impressive enough, but a Golf GTI is both quicker and cheaper to run. It also comes with big 18-inch alloy wheels and lowered suspension for extra cornering grip and less body roll.
Kia Ceed diesel engines
For the cheapest running costs the diesel are a sure bet. The basic 89hp 1.4-litre model can return 68.9mpg and costs just £20 a year to tax. As with the new 1.0-litre petrol performance figures haven’t been fully revealed for it yet but with 177Ib ft of torque you can expect it to cope well when the car is fully loaded.
The 1.6-litre diesel packs 134hp, which is enough to get the car from 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds and torque of 221Ib ft means it will be an even quicker overtaker than the basic diesel. Fuel economy for it sits at 67.3mpg and it also costs £20 to tax. It is the only model that can be equipped with Kia’s new dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic gearbox. It’s very smooth and shifts intelligently, but its slower changes mean using the manual paddles isn’t as rewarding as in a DSG Volkswagen.
The six-speed manual gearbox is commended, which is just as well - you’ll need to make best use of it to overtake other traffic. Go with the flow, and the 1.4 does offer decent economy figures - 47 mpg in normal trim, and 50.4 mpg if you pick the more economy-biased Ecodynamics trim level. CO2 is as low as 130g/km, for a bill of £100 per year. If you do low mileage each year, this could be the Cee’d for you.
Those range as high as 76.3 mpg on the Ecodynamics car, and as low as 97 grams per kilometre on the same variant - meaning free road tax with that particular model. Regular diesels attain 68.9 mpg in mixed driving, and CO2 of 109g/km makes for a low £20 yearly road tax bill. With the petrol-besting performance and fuel-sipping tendencies, the 1.6 diesel is probably the pick of the Cee’d range.
Numbers don’t tell the whole story though, and some reviewers say that you need to work the engine hard sometimes to make progress - to the detriment of noise, refinement and economy. Peak torque isn’t developed until nearly 5,000rpm, so it doesn’t have the easy-going nature of the diesel engine. Still, it’s cheaper than the diesel, and if you don’t do many miles or drive particularly quickly then you may not notice some of the engine’s issues. A dual-clutch automatic is optional on the petrol, but it’s not the best - left in auto mode, it hangs onto gears for a little too long.
The Kia boasts a wide range of standard safety equipment that includes stability control, anti-lock brakes, emergency brake assist, hill assist control to prevent roll-back, Kia’s Emergency Stop Signal system and six airbags. As a result the car was awarded five stars when it was crash tested by European safety body NCAP in 2012.
The 2015 facelift added optional safety systems such as speed limit recognition, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert to tell you if a car is approaching while backing out from a parking spot. Automatic emergency braking is still not available, however.
Kia has also looked to reduce the chance of costly repairs during low-speed crashes. Both the front and rear structures of the car are designed to minimise deformation during collisions taking place at less than 9mph
There are a bewildering eight trims level to choose from in the Kia Ceed range so we’ll only focus on the highlights here.
Kia Ceed 1
The line-up kicks of with the Ceed 1. With plastic wheel trims rather than the alloy wheels fitted to the rest of the range, there’s no disguising it’s the basic model. But, if you can get over the drab exterior, you’ll find an interior that sports all the equipment you could expect at the price, including air conditioning, a DAB radio, electric front windows and remote central locking.
Kia Ceed SR7
The SR7 is just one level up from the base model, but you get a list of additional equipment including 16-inch alloy wheels, voice control, reversing sensors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, privacy glass and automatic headlights.
Kia Ceed 4
Sitting towards the top of the Ceed range, 4 trim comes with equipment that you might not expect in a car of this size or price. Thanks to its leather seats it has a more expensive feeling interior than lowlier models and it also gets illuminated exterior door handles and an air vent for rear-seat occupants. As with the Ceed 3 that sits below it, the 4 comes with a sat-nav system operated via a seven-inch touch screen, climate control, as well as auto lights and wipers.
Kia Ceed GT Line
New for 2015, the GT Line model is designed to give buyers the sporty looks of the GT, but with the cheap running costs of the rest of the range. There’s no denying it looks striking, along with 17-inch wheels, buyers get twin exhaust pipes and a sportier grille design. Much of the exterior is also finished in gloss-black plastic. A lot has been done to make the interior look more eye-catching, too, so the upholstery is black with contrasting grey inserts and the pedals are finished in racy aluminium. Equipment levels are decent, with the GT Line adding to the basic model with touchscreen sat-nav and a handy reversing camera.
The 2015 Ceed update has largely improved on the old model. Now equipped with a economical 1.0-litre petrol engine and a throughly up-to-date seven-speed automatic gearbox – it has the tools to compete with its main rivals from Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen. While the driving experience is more comfortable than ever, the Kia still falls behind its key rivals when it comes to being fun to drive. But none of the competition can compete with the Kia’s seven-year warranty and it remains one of the car’s biggest selling points.