Road Test: Kia XCeed
The latest crossover evolution of the Ceed hatch is the pick of the range, reckons Martyn Collins.
Kia’s goal is to have the most comprehensive range in the C-segment, and it certainly hasn’t hung around. Firstly, just over a year ago came the hatch, then the practical Sportswagon estate, with the curvy ProCeed shooting brake at the start of this year.
The brand’s not done yet either, with the latest addition being the XCeed which, along with the ProCeed, will become the first Ceed model to offer a plug-in hybrid version.
With consistent sales growth in the urban crossover utility vehicle (CUV) segment, it’s not really a surprise that the newest Ceed is a crossover – nor the fact that Kia is predicting it’ll be the best-selling variant in the range.
The XCeed is based on the Ceed five-door hatch, but you wouldn’t know it, as it has received a serious metalwork makeover. It is 85mm longer and 43mm taller, with just the front doors shared. XCeed styling highlights include the ‘dual-blade’ SUV grille, extra chrome detailing and sharper LED headlights, a curvier, more coupé-like roofline, longer, raised bonnet, chunky lower body cladding, unique alloy wheel designs, high-set LED rear lights, plus a distinctive rear diffuser and exhaust tips.
Inside, there is plenty of space in the front, with the familiar dashboard design from the Ceed hatch. However, new for the XCeed is the 12.3-inch configurable instrument display – a first for the brand, plus Kia’s 10.25-inch TFT LCD infotainment system.
The driving position is comfortable, the quality is very good and there’s plenty of space in the front. Sadly, things aren’t so rosy in the back, as legroom is only average – plus the curvy roofline eats into the headroom. So tall passengers won’t be comfortable. All XCeed models are well-equipped, featuring alloy wheels, eight-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, keyless entry, manual air-conditioning and cruise control.
There’s also a full set of safety equipment including a Blindspot Collision and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning. The XCeed can even park itself via Smart Park Assist, using the parking sensors in parallel and perpendicular spaces.
The first XCeed we drove is expected to be one of the most popular engines, the 138hp 1.4 T-GDi petrol turbo, mated with six-speed manual transmission. A smooth seven-speed automatic version, which we got to drive, is also available. Best described as willing, the only disappointment is the manual could do with slicker changes. Kia believes fleet buyers will choose the 134hp, 1.6-litre CRDi diesel. Although gruffer in feel, the diesel is torquier and the six-speed manual smoother. Two other T-GDi petrol engines, a 118hp, 1.0-litre and a 261hp, 1.6-litre will also be available.
The XCeed gets its own unique suspension settings. Plus, clever hydraulic rebound stoppers fitted on the front axle, which are designed to absorb the worst suspension shocks. These work together to give an impressively supple ride, yet despite the 44mm taller stance than the standard Ceed, the steering and handling are impressively precise, making the XCeed very involving to drive.
Key Fleet Model: 1.6 CRDi
Strengths: Looks great, impressive standard equipment, drives well
Weaknesses: Rear space, 1.4 t-gdi gearchange lacks polish
Kia is predicting this will be the best-selling Ceed and the third best-selling Kia model behind Sportage and Niro. A clever re-skin of the hatch, it’s great to drive.
Sector: C-segment Price: €21,390 – €35,290 Fuel: 3.4-5.4l/100km* CO2: 109-142g/km**
FW Rating: ****