Kia Ceed Review
The Kia Ceed is an affordable family hatchback that’s impressively practical and comes packed with high-tech features as standard, but you’d hardly call it fun to drive.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Good-sized boot
- Lots of standard equipment
- Very economical diesel engine
What's not so good
- Unassuming interior
- Not much fun to drive
- Headroom’s tight in the back
Kia Ceed: what would you like to read next?
The Kia Ceed is an affordable small family hatchback with a spacious interior and an impressively practical boot. Sure, it’s no show-stopper, but its smart looks mean it doesn’t have to rely on gimmick-ey punctuation (like the old Cee’d) to get noticed – a bit like a torturously named indie band who’s finally made the mainstream.
It isn’t just outside where the Kia Ceed has grown up and matured – it feels posher than ever inside, too. You get plenty of standard equipment, including an 8-inch touchscreen, smartphone mirroring and there’s a smattering of metal-effect trims and loads of soft, squidgy plastic trims.
The seats are pretty supportive, too, and there’s more than enough adjustment for tall drivers to get comfy in the Kia Ceed’s front seats. Go for a top-spec car and you even get 10-way electric adjustment and electric lumbar support to prevent backache on long journeys.
Thankfully, back-seat comfort hasn’t been forgotten – space in the rear seats is very nearly as generous as is the front. As a result, there’s enough room for a six-foot-tall passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver and the soft central seat and almost flat floor means there’s space for three adults to sit side-by-side – if not quite as much room as you get in a Golf.
It’s not just passengers the Kia Ceed can carry with ease – its boot is roomy, too. You’ll be able to squeeze more into its 395-litre boot than in almost any other small hatchback and the standard adjustable floor means there’s no load lip to worry about.
Flip the back seats down and there’s enough space to carry a bike with its wheel attached, too. In fact, the only thorn in the side of the impressive practical Kia Ceed is that there isn’t quite enough space under the boot floor to store the parcel shelf.
The latest Kia Ceed might have lost the old version’s oddly placed apostrophe, but it’s gained a bucketload of upmarket features and a seriously stylish new look.
If you don’t plan to fill your Kia Ceed’s boot to the brim, then the entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine will be powerful enough. It’s smooth around town and can handle the odd motorway jaunt without feeling overly strained.
There’s a more powerful 1.4-litre version that’s worth considering if you do a mix of town and motorway driving and a very frugal 1.6-litre diesel if you plan on driving the Kia Ceed for long distances. If you’re after something sportier, the 1.6-litre petrol is worth considering.
If you do lots of long trips, the optional seven-speed automatic gearbox is a worthy upgrade. The standard six-speed manual is easy enough to use, but the automatic’s smooth, responsive and more relaxing to use for long periods – especially in traffic.
Whichever engine and gearbox you go for, you’ll find the Kia Ceed a doddle to drive. The light controls and large windows help make manoeuvring through town as easy as possible and its supple suspension does an excellent job of ironing out large potholes. It’s pretty quiet at speed, too – despite a little door-mirror-induced wind noise – and even entry-level cars get cruise control as standard.
Sure, it’s not as much fun to drive as a Ford Focus – even in its sportiest GT guise. But, the Ceed comes with plenty of high-tech features designed to make it as safe as possible. It hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP yet, but the standard automatic emergency braking, cruise control and lane-keeping assist should help make it one of the safest small family cars on sale.
If you’re looking for a safe, well-equipped and comfortable family car and aren’t too fussed about fancy badges or sporty handling, the Kia Ceed makes an excellent choice.
The Kia Ceed’s interior comes packed with tech and looks much more upmarket than the old model but alternatives still have the edge when it comes to flashy design and posh materials.
The Kia Ceed pairs a spacious cabin with an impressively practical boot – not an easy task for a hatchback – but some alternatives have more space for three adults in the back.
The Kia Ceed’s boot doesn’t pack any particularly clever storage features, but it’s easy to load and bigger than almost all other small hatchbacks – what more do you need?
You’ll have plenty of room to stretch out in the front of the Kia Ceed – even if you’re very tall. You get seat-height adjustment as standard and there’s more than enough head, knee and legroom to get comfortable on long journeys.
There’s enough seat-height adjustment to let shorter drivers get a decent view out, too, and you get electric adjustable lumbar support – to help reduce back-ache on long drives – on all but ‘2’ and Blue Edition models.
Pick a top-spec First Edition ot GT Line S Ceed and you also get 10-way electric seat adjustment with a memory function – handy if your other half is significantly taller or shorter than you. First Edition cars also comes with ventilated front seats and seat heating for all but the central rear seat – just the thing to stop passengers complaining on cold winter mornings.
Unlike the old model, the new Kia Ceed is a five-door hatchback. So, unlike the old three-door version, you’ll never have to get out to let passengers climb into the back seats and the latest model’s larger side windows make the back seats feel lighter and less claustrophobic than before.
These rear doors also make it easier to fit a child seat. There’s more than enough room to lift in a bulky seat base through the Kia Ceed’s door opening and the standard Isofix anchor points are easy to locate behind a set of plastic covers.
Unfortunately, while back-seat headroom is on a par with the likes of the Hyundai i30, the Kia Ceed doesn’t come with quite as much leg room as some other small hatchbacks. There’s just enough room for adults to sit behind a six-foot-tall driver, but if you regularly carry tall passengers you’ll be better off with a VW Golf.
It’s a similar story when you need to carry three passengers in the back at once. The Kia’s mostly flat floor and well-padded central rear seat means your middle passenger shouldn’t have any trouble getting comfortable, but there isn’t as much shoulder room to go round as you get in a Golf or an Astra.
The black roof lining you get in GT Line, GT Line S and GT models also makes the back seats feel a little more cramped than the less sporty models. Worth bearing in mind if you regularly carry passengers in the back.
So, the Kia Ceed might not be the best for carrying adults in the back, but at least its numerous spacious storage bins mean you won’t have trouble keeping its cabin looking factory fresh. The front door bins are big enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle and there’s enough space under the central armrest and in the roomy glovebox for a few bulky valuables.
You get two sizeable cupholders in the front and there’s a pair of extra cupholders built into the folding rear armrest. The rear door bins aren’t quite as cavernous as those in the front, but they’re still big enough to hold a 1.0-litre bottle.
The Kia Ceed’s 395-litre boot has more space than the VW Golf, the Vauxhall Astra and the Ford Focus. The boot’s square shape makes it easy to pack full of bulky luggage and – with the adjustable boot floor in its raised position – there’s no annoying load lip so it’s a doddle to slide in heavy items.
A large baby buggy will easily fit – as will two large suitcases and an assortment of soft bags – and you get plenty of tethering points, shopping hooks and an elasticated strap to hold smaller items securely in place.
Unfortunately, there isn’t quite enough space under the false floor to store the parcel shelf. As a result, you’ll have to leave it at home or tuck it awkwardly behind the front seats if you plan to carry tall items such as potted plants in the Kia Ceed’s boot.
If you need to carry longer luggage, the back seats flip down in a two-way (60:40) split using levers by the headrests. With just one seat flipped down, there’s space for a passenger to sit in the back with a stepladder-sized item poking through from the back seats.
Fold all the Kia Ceed’s back seats down, and its boot grows to a spacious 1,291 litres. That’s more than you get in the Hyundai i30 and Ford Focus, but not quite as much as the Astra and Golf can manage. The Ceed’s completely flat load bay makes it easy to load a bike with its wheels attached, but the capacious Skoda Octavia is even roomier.
The Kia Ceed is easy to drive and comfortable but it won’t put a big grin on your face on a twisty country road like some other hatchbacks.
Driving the Kia Ceed won’t leave you feeling thrilled – instead you can expect to be mildly surprised by its ability to iron-out monster potholes like a much bigger car.
You can get the Kia Ceed with a range of three petrol and two diesel engines and with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox.
The entry-level 120hp petrol is a very good all-rounder – especially if you do lots of city driving. It feels reasonably perky when you pull out of junctions and doesn’t struggle too much when you head out onto a motorway. Sure, it’s a little noisy when you accelerate hard to overtake slow-moving traffic but it’s smooth when you’re just cruising along and won’t cost the earth to run. Kia claims it’ll return 52.3mpg, but you can expect it to manage a figure in the high forties in normal driving conditions.
If you do a more balanced mix of town and country driving, you’ll want to consider the slightly more powerful 140hp 1.4-litre turbo petrol. It feels slightly less strained at motorway speeds than 120hp versions, and still returns around 46mpg in normal driving conditions compared to Kia’s claimed 48.7mpg.
There’s also a perkier 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine available in sporty GT models that produces 204hp. This more aggressive-looking Ceed will reach 62mph from rest in 7.8 seconds. It’s nowhere near as fast or as fun as a Golf GTI then, but it’s still surprisingly perky for an unassuming family hatchback.
If you do lots of long motorway journeys, the 115hp 1.6-litre diesel engine will be a better bet. It doesn’t feel as fast as the two petrols but it’ll cruise along happily at 70mph and uses noticeably less fuel. Kia claims it’ll return 74.3mpg but we managed more than 80mpg on a mix of motorway and country roads. Pair this model with the optional Eco Pack (that includes lowered suspension, special tyres and various hidden aerodynamic aides) and this diesel engine produces just 99g/km of CO2. As a result, it’ll cost just £145 per year to tax.
Every Kia Ceed comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard that’s smooth and easy to use in town. If your commute takes in lengthy traffic jams, however, you’ll want to consider paying extra for the optional seven-speed automatic. This unit is available in the 115hp diesel and 140hp petrol models and actually improves fuel economy by a couple of miles per gallon. It changes gear a little too aggressively when you accelerate hard, but it’ll certainly take the sting out of seemingly endless stop-start traffic.
The Kia Ceed is very easy to drive and fairly comfortable – exactly what you want from a small family hatchback.
The steering is light which helps make manoeuvring through tight gaps in traffic as easy as possible and the suspension does a reasonably good job of ironing out bumps and potholes. Sure, the Kia Ceed bounces slightly more than a VW Golf over particularly large potholes, but you won’t feel any jarring thuds through your seat – even on noticeably pockmarked roads.
The Ceed doesn’t lean noticeably in the corners so your passengers in the back should have no reason to feel carsick. It doesn’t feel quite as nimble as a Ford Focus, however, but will happily dispatch a few tight hairpin bends – especially in GT guise. These sportier versions come with lowered suspension and larger alloy wheels which help make the Kia Ceed more fun to drive on a twisty country road.
You won’t be wearing quite as big a grin as in the likes of a VW Golf GTI, but the Kia Ceed GT is more affordable and still fairly good fun.
If you spend more time on the motorway than tearing down empty B roads, steer clear of the GT versions and stick to something a bit more sensible. The softer, more comfort-oriented suspension in less sporty Ceed models makes them more comfortable to travel in and reduces the amount of annoying tyre noise you hear on motorways.
Unfortunately, there’s still a fair amount of wind noise cooked up by the Kia Ceed’s door mirrors at 70mph. Still – at least you get cruise control as standard to help you while away long motorway journeys.
Around town, the Ceed’s large windows and reasonably slim door pillars give you a good view out so you can spot traffic approaching at junctions and manoeuvre through tight gaps without breaking a sweat.
On the subject of tight gaps – if the thought of parallel parking strikes fear into your heart, go for a top-spec First Edition model. These come with a neat self-parking feature that’ll steer for you into tight bay and parallel parking spaces. If you don’t mind taking the plunge yourself but wouldn’t mind a little extra help, mid-range ‘3’ cars come with rear parking sensors and every Kia Ceed gets a reversing camera as standard – not bad for an affordable family hatchback.
Equally impressive is the amount of standard safety kit you get across the Kia Ceed range. Even entry-level ‘2’ cars come with cruise control, lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking that’ll hit the brakes if the car detects an obstacle in its path ahead.
Pick a top-spec First Edition model with an automatic gearbox, and you get what Kia calls Lane Following Assist – a feature that’ll search for gaps in motorway traffic and help you move into lanes with less congestion. More usefully, it’ll steer for you to keep you in your lane and works alongside the adaptive cruise control feature to keep a safe distance to other cars by braking and accelerating when necessary. All these features should help the Kia Ceed earn a high score when it’s crash-tested by Euro NCAP.