First Drive: Kia XCeed

Don’t be fooled into thinking the Kia XCeed is just a jacked-up version of the popular Ceed hatchback, with some plastic cladding to make it look tough…

Kia has gone to great lengths to create the XCeed, with only the front doors being shared between the two models. It’s also longer and taller, with a unique treatment to the lights and grille that make it stand out from other Kia models.

It stands up higher too, thanks to longer suspension, lending it an off-road stance. It’s not designed to tackle the rough stuff though, as there’s not even an option for four-wheel drive. Happily, increasing the ground clearance has had the extra benefit of improving the ride quality over the regular Ceed, the longer travel of the springs able to absorb more of the imperfections of the road. Most cars like this will roll more noticeably in the corners, but Kia has countered this with some expensive hydraulic bump stops at the front, allowing for a more cosseting ride without affecting handling significantly.

That said, it’s not a car to tackle roads with a great deal of enthusiasm. It’s capable enough, flowing through corners effortlessly, with power steering that’s accurate if lifeless. Interestingly for a front-wheel-drive hatchback, it feels well balanced, the rear doing as much work as the front, but push too hard and it’s the front that lets go first, predictably and safely.

Power options are limited to a 1.0-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel, as well as the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol tested here. With 140hp it’s not exactly a ball of fire, but it will hit 62mph in a comfortable 9.4 seconds. It does that quietly too, as the petrol unit up front is pleasingly refined. The six-speed manual gearbox is smooth, quiet, and reasonably precise, but the seven-speed automatic is the one to go for – it’s smoother, nicely masks a dead spot of power at low revs, and slightly improves economy and emissions.

Also slightly improved is practicality. The wheelbase of the Kia XCeed is exactly the same as the Ceed it’s based on, so interior space remains the same – it’s still amongst the roomiest in its class – but the extra metalwork at the back has left an extended boot. It now takes 426 litres of luggage, up from 390, and 41 litres more than you can squeeze into a Volkswagen Golf.

The cabin sees an influx of new technology, although it still remains instantly recognisable as a Kia, There’s dark plastics and a sensible if uninteresting dashboard layout, but it’s now been improved by the addition of a 10.25-inch touchscreen. This houses the infotainment system, with all the tech you’d expect, and allows for a fully customisable display with up to three panels of information side by side. It’s easy to set up, easy to use and works well.

There’s also a 12.3-inch digital screen behind the steering wheel, replacing the traditional instruments, at least on this First Edition model. It’s less effective, as there’s little wrong with a round dial that shows your speed clearly, but allows for more information to be presented clearly to the driver. It adds a suitably premium style to the interior, but it’s not entirely necessary. Elsewhere there’s the usual array of equipment, as you’d expect in a Kia, with all the important things like a DAB radio, navigation, climate control and a long list of safety equipment being fitted as standard.

It all comes together to create a car that feels perfect for the moment. While the world wants an SUV, this XCeed offers the style without any of the downsides of ownership – it’s not heavy, thirsty and expensive to run, and behaves like a normal car on the road rather than a lumbering two-tonne metal lump. It’s pleasingly refined, practical enough to leave most buyers contented, improves on the ride quality of the standard Ceed model, and offers some interesting new technology. That’s all wrapped up in a seven-year warranty, with the infotainment system’s connected services also getting a seven-year subscription, so it also promises to be hassle-free and easy to own.

It’s probably the best Kia yet.

Model Tested: Kia XCeed First Edition 1.4 T-GDI
Price: £28,095
Range: £20,795 – £29,195
Top speed: 124 mph
0-62 mph: 9.4 seconds
Power: 140 PS (138 bhp)
Torque: 242 Nm (178 lb ft)
Monthly PCP*: £384
Official economy: 45.6 mpg
Road test economy: N/A
CO2 Emissions: 142 g/km
Car Tax: £145
Insurance group: 18A
* Monthly PCP estimate based on 20% deposit, 36 month term, 5% APR, final payment of 40%.
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Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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