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.
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.
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.
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.