Motors

Kia Ceed: Another Euro star

Kia's latest Ceed is a sensible, practical and frugal family car, says William Scholes

 Kia Ceed

ONCE upon a time, Korean car company Kia got very ambitious, writes William Scholes.

The brand had only arrived in Europe in 1991 with a rather lacklustre and old fashioned line-up which caught the eye only because they were so cheap.

Famously, one promotion at the time meant you could drive away in a brand new Kia in exchange for a £1 deposit.

But Kia had loftier aspirations. It wanted European car buyers - generally regarded as the most discerning in the world - to consider its cars at least equal to those from the big, established manufacturers like Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen.

Europeans love family-sized hatchbacks, so Kia decided to build one of its own.

It spent millions building a state-of-the-art factor in Zilina in Slovakia, training the workforce and designing the Ceed.

The first Ceed debuted in 2007, and to underline Kia’s confidence in its new car it came with a seven-year warranty - unheard of at the time.

It was still keen value for money and while it wasn’t going to give the VW Golf any sleepless nights, it was a thoroughly competent entry to the family hatchback market.

The Ceed proved to be the launchpad for the extraordinary growth and success Kia has enjoyed since then.

Having proved it could build a decent European hatch with bombproof reliability and a sensible price tag, the next stage in Kia’s plan was to making the Ceed appeal to the heart as well as the head.

It managed this in spades with the second generation Ceed in 2012, thanks to svelte bodywork which instantly made it one of the best looking cars in the class.

Kia Ceed

Practicality and build quality remained top-notch, and helped Kia on its way to being well and truly considered as a mainstream player, thanks in part to the burgeoning popularity of the on-trend Sportage SUV.

The second generation Ceed was updated during its life - new engines, a sporty GT version - and now it has passed the baton on to an all-new third generation Ceed.

If you’ve been following Kia’s trajectory, this is the Ceed they want you to buy instead of something like a Ford Focus or, whisper it, a Volkswagen Golf.

The Kia Ceed is a highly accomplished family hatchback, and easier to recommend than ever before

Maturity has perhaps rubbed some of the distinctiveness from the lines of the Ceed - it is still a handsome car, but not as stand-out stylish as before - but Kia hopes the smarter, more upmarket interior, the arrival of high-tech equipment and keener driving dynamics will more than make up.

For added context, I tested the new Ceed back-to-back with the latest Ford Focus.

Kia has - wisely, in my view - avoided the trend that has seen almost every other car manufacturer loading more and more functions onto a dashboard touchscreen.

The Ceed does indeed have a large digital display at the top of the dashboard, but there are still a pleasing amount of large, clearly marked buttons and dials to operate the heater and the like.

Honestly, no-one needs the faff of diving into menus on a screen to adjust the temperature. It can be dangerous apart from anything else.

When you do need to use the Kia’s screen - to change audio source, for example - it is a model of simplicity and quick to react to your inputs.

The dashboard instruments, too, are clear and straightforward.

It all helps create the feeling that the Ceed has been designed around the driver and that immediate ease-of-use was a priority - and what’s not to like about that?

The Ceed gives nothing away to its rivals in interior or boot space, either. The driver’s seat was very comfortable with lots of adjustment, and a clear view out; this is an intelligently-designed, well thought-out car.

 Kia Ceed

 Kia Ceed

 Kia Ceed

Emphasising Kia’s determination to make the new Ceed a better drive than before, this time it has an all-independent suspension set up.

Whether many customers will be identify the upgrade is another question; regardless, the Kia offers a good balance of smooth ride and tight body control.

It isn’t as fun to steer as a Mazda 3, for example, but Kia has delivered on its promise to make the Ceed better to drive.

It all helps create the feeling that the Ceed has been designed around the driver and that immediate ease-of-use was a priority - and what’s not to like about that?

It is a quiet, refined car, too. My diesel test car was pleasingly calm on the motorway, for example.

Engines, for now, are 1.0-litre (118bhp, 127lb.ft) and 1.4-litre (138bhp, 179lb.ft) petrols and a 1.6-litre diesel with 114bhp and 207lb.ft or - if you opt for the automatic gearbox - 221lb.ft of torque.

The GT model will have a punchier 1.6-litre petrol turbo (210bhp, 196lb.ft) when it arrives.

The smallest engine is six-speed manual-only, while the other three choices can also be had with a seven-speed double-clutch automatic gearbox.

There are no hybrid or electric versions for now, though Kia can sell you other cars, such as the Niro, which fit that bill.

You can have your Ceed with tech such as a semi-autonomous motorway driving mode.

All models have high-beam assist and emergency city braking, as well as crowd-pleasing smartphone mirroring courtesy of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The entry trim level is called ‘2’ these days and is generously kitted out, with a DAB radio, Bluetooth and a 7-inch touchscreen, cruise control, air conditioning and some nice leather trim on the steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake.

The range rises to ‘3’, GT-Line and GT-Line S. There are also a couple of launch specials, the ‘Blue Edition’ and the kitchen sink ‘First Edition’.

Prices start at £18,295 for a 1.0-litre ‘2’ and the most expensive version is a 1.4-litre automatic GT-Line S at £27,185.

Given the equipment on offer, those prices are competitive for the family hatchback sector, particularly when the seven-year warranty is factored in.

Kia’s confidence in its new Ceed is fully justified. This is a highly accomplished family hatchback, and easier to recommend than ever before.

AT A GLANCE

Kia Ceed ‘2’ 1.6CRDi

Price: £19,545. As tested £20,095, with metallic paint £550

Engine and transmission: 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel turbo, six-speed-manual gearbox, front-wheel-drive; 114bhp, 207lb.ft

Performance: Top speed 118mph, 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds

Fuel consumption and CO2: 58.9mpg (WLTP combined), 55.5mpg (real world), 99g/km

Car tax: £145 in first year, then £140 annually

Benefit in kind: 24 per cent

Euro Ncap safety rating: Not yet tested

 Kia Ceed

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