Kia Cee'd review

Our Rating: 
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Kia Cee'd offers stylish looks and a seven-year warranty to rival the Ford Focus and VW Golf

Plenty of space, stylish looks, seven-year warranty
Not great to drive, sloppy steering, lacks desirability

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The Kia Cee'd is a family hatchback that rivals two of the biggest-selling cars in Britain: the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. While the Kia's sales figures aren't up there with its VW, Ford and Vauxhall rivals, the Cee'd proves that the firm can really take the fight to the big-name brands.

Not only does the Kia Cee'd match its rivals on quality and styling, it's great value too. There's even a Sportswagon estate version to cater for customers needing extra practicality, which gets a bigger boot than its main rivals: the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and Ford Focus Estate. It's not as good to drive as some of its competitor cars, though, specifically the Ford Focus.

The Cee'd is Kia's five-door family hatch, with the firm deciding to call the three-door version the Pro_cee'd. As well as two fewer doors, the Pro_cee'd model looks a bit sportier thanks to 40mm lower suspension and a sleeker roofline.

Faster versions of the two Cee'd models, called the Kia Pro_cee'd GT and Kia Cee'd GT, are also available, and feature a 201bhp, 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine. They look and feel sporty, but won't trouble the Ford Focus ST or Golf GTI for driver engagement. The Kia Cee'd best engine to go for is the economical 1.6-litre CRDi diesel version.

The Cee'd is offered in seven specifications: 1, 2, 3, 4, 4 Tech, GT and GT Tech.

Our choice: Cee’d 1.6 CRDi 2 ISG 5dr



Next to the VW Golf and Ford Focus, the Kia Cee'd looks rather stylish - it certainly stands out next to the more popular family hatchbacks. The large grille and distinctive headlights give the car a distinctive face, and the cool taillights mean the back end looks great too.

It feels upmarket inside too, thanks to the quality materials used and clean layout. Air-conditioning, Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity are standard on the Cee'd, and there's lots of kit available as you move up the range.

The 2 model gets 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, parking sensors and all-round electric windows (on five-door models), while the 3 spec adds a seven-inch touchscreen sat-nav system, tinted windows, a reversing camera and automatic lights and wipers.

Go for the top-spec 4 Tech model to get a panoramic sunroof and a Parallel Park Assist System, which can judge whether the car can fit into a gap and automatically control the steering to help park.



The Kia Cee'd is a comfortable car to drive, thanks to the light steering, refined ride and good noise insulation.

In models with adjustable steering you can choose between Normal, Comfort and Sport modes, but it doesn't feel much, if at all, different in each mode. In the corners the nose feels heavy and the steering needs constant adjustment while you're driving. It's beaten by the Ford Focus and SEAT Leon in this area.

There are two 1.4 and two 1.6 engines in the Cee'd, with petrol and diesel versions of each displacement. Performance and economy is solid in every engine, but none are particularly exciting. However, there is a 200bhp turbocharged petrol in the GT models, which is punchy and feels fast on the road, so for keen drivers it's the only option.

For drivers who do a lot of miles, the diesels are the best choice thanks to strong power delivery in normal driving.



With an 83rd place finish in the top 150 cars in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, the Kia Cee'd is not as reliable as the original 2009 model - which scored much better in the survey. The lacklustre handling and poor build quality irked owners, but they did praise running costs, practicality and accessories. A seven-year warranty proves how much confidence Kia has in its car, though.

The Euro NCAP crash tests saw the Kia Cee'd scoring the full five stars, partly thanks to an 89 percent rating for adult occupant protection. The safety equipment list is great, and includes stability control, Isofix child seat fixings, seatbelt reminders and six airbags as standard. You can also get lane-departure warning as an optional extra.



Practicality is a strong suit for the Kia Cee'd, even though it looks quite small from the outside. It's just 4,310mm long and 1,780mm wide, but the large 380-litre boot is about 60 litres larger than that of the Ford Focus and 10 litres bigger than the Vauxhall Astra's. Folding down the rear seats means you can increase the space to 1,318 litres.

Kia Cee'd interior

You can also go for the Kia Cee'd Sportswagon estate, which gets a 1,664-litre boot, also beating its closest rivals for space. There are loads of little storage places around the interior for family life, and the rear head and legroom is very impressive. Plus, a six-foot passenger can sit behind a six-foot driver - a rare feature on a small car like this.

Running Costs


The top engine for efficiency is the 1.6 CRDi EcoDynamics diesel. This engine returns an impressive 76mpg and emits 97g/km of CO2, so tax is free. The 1.4-litre diesel gets 68.9mpg and 109g/km, so we'd definitely go for the larger engine. This EcoDynamics Kia is similar to the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion in terms of economy, but it's better value to buy.

On models with the 1.6 CRDi and 1.6 GDI petrol engines you can choose to have an automatic gearbox but it reduces fuel economy figures. This being a Kia, you get an excellent seven-year warranty as well, which means repair costs will be minimised over your ownership. Servicing is affordable, too, thanks to the availability of fixed-price, pre-paid servicing packs.

Disqus - noscript

I think the con sums up how AE rate every car. They are nothing more than bunch of badge snobs who really do not care about the performance of a car only if the neighbours think your doing well because of it.

Considering the price, the fresh looks, the equipment it offers, the industry leading warranty, this must be the best entry level car in the C-segment.
However as you go up the order, you realise that the range tops out at the 1.6L petrol and diesel units. No turbo power of a 2L petrol or diesel?
Its pretty much a class norm in Europe. Now there's a reason why Kia lacks brand appeal. Having said that its only fair to say that the Kia's on its way.

Your correct to some extent, as many people don't care what their car says about them. However the sales success of Audi, BMW and Mercedes shows us that desirability of a car is a major factor when making a purchase.

Oh I don't disagree Heavy, but it goes to show how many people chose the wrong car for them purely follow the crowd. I work with an older guy who was so proud of his 330d,he couldn't tell me why but he was now don't get me wrong great engine but within 3 months of owning it he was having to have physiotherapy as the ride had really damaged his back and he was stuck with the car for 3 years!
Moral been test before you buy, don't just pick the badge!

I have an 11 plate cee'd and it's the worse car i have ever owned more things have gone wrong then right.
Dash dials stopped working, Cruise control works when it feels like it,Stone chips turned to rust and the engine decides to cut out when doing 70 i'm just glad I didn't panic. overall i'd give it 2 out of 10....

Wow, it seems like you've experienced the same thing as me! I've had so many problems with my Audi A4. And my friends are also having problems with their 2011 mini & VW Golf. Overall I'd give BMW, Audi, & VW 2 out of 10 & get myself a KIA instead which has comparable quality, better warranty, & better price :)

I have the CEED 2 1.6 crdi auto and only get 32.5 mpg combined using Shell V power. Ride is uncomfortable on rough roads all models should be available with 15" wheels & higher profile tyres as recommended by HJ. The jacking system is not fit for purpose especially at night virtually impossible to find tiny locating points. The dash is a bad design lights up on start up with DRL so one forgets at night rear lights are not lit. The DRL is far too large & dims too much when rear lights are switched on. There is a overlarge fuel display but no permanent engine temp gauge or immediate trip odometer two essentials, you have trawl through a very complex hard to understand Menu system. The silly Flex steer system lacks any feel only normal mode is required. A car at this price level should have auto dip rear view mirror ,TPM & better lights, had to change the bulbs. However the saving feature of the car is the excellent autobox & no turbo lag; Drove the petrol model but the dual clutch box is not fully automatic under all driving conditions.

Last updated: 27 Feb, 2014

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