Kia Cee'd review

Our Rating: 
2012 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Kia Cee'd is a well built and practical family hatchback. It's a shame it's let down by a dull drive

Seven-year warranty, well screwed together, good looks
Inert handling, numb steering,

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The Kia Cee'd is the Korean manufacturer's answer to the Volkswagen Golf, the Ford Focus and the Vauxhall Astra, cars that regularly top not just the family hatchback segment, but both appear in the top-ten best-selling cars in the UK. 

While it's not as common a site on UK roads as the Volkswagen or Ford, it provides yet more compelling proof that Kia is catching them quickly in terms of build quality, design and driving dynamics.

In addition to its five-door hatchback body-style, the Kia Cee'd is available as the Sportswagon estate, which rivals the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and Ford Focus Estate. Furthermore, Kia offers a three-door version of the car called the Pro_cee'd, which looks slightly sportier thanks to a 40mm lower suspension, and sleeker roofline.

While the Cee'd is a serious rival for the regular VW Golf and Ford Focus, Kia's sportier versions of the Cee'd - the Cee'd GT and Pro_cee'd GT aren't really designed to trouble the likes of the Focus ST or Golf GTI for behind-the-wheel thrills. However, look tidy and feel well put together.

The two petrol engines in the Kia Cee'd kicks off with a 98bhp 1.4-litre unit. The rest of the mainstream line-up is comprised of  either a 1.6-litre CRDi or GDI diesel. The CRDi units produce 124bhp, while the GDI produces 130bhp.

The performance focused Cee'd GT models, however, features a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine, which kicks out a hefty 201bhp.

The Kia Cee'd is available in a wide variety of trim levels, with the 1 kicking things off and  even this model gets air-conditioning as standard. The mid-range Kia Cee'd 2 gets cruise control and day-time running lights, while 3 cars feature integrated european sat-nav, rain sensing wipers and a reversing camera.

Flagship 4 and 4 Tech models feature black leather seats and a panoramic sunroof, and start-stop technology. The Cee'd VR7 special edition, meanwhile, gets Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming tech thrown in as standard, as well as all-round electric windows.


Our choice: Cee’d 1.6 CRDi 2 ISG 5dr



Compared to the understated Volkswagen Golf, and the slightly awkward looking Ford Focus, the Kia Cee'd stands out for sure. At the front, it looks good with its large 'tiger nose' grille and distinctive headlights. The stylish tail lights mean it looks great from behind, too. 

While it's unable to match the Golf GTI for driving dynamics, the Cee'd GT certainly looks smart with an aggressive body-kit, and 'ice-cube' LED daytime running lights. Two-tone 18-inch alloys and extra chrome trim adds a little extra sparkle to the exterior styling, too.

Step inside the Kia Cee'd, and the overall feeling of quality continues. Kia has used plenty of up market materials, and as we've discussed, all models come generously equipped. One criticism of the interior however, would be that the red digital displays for the climate control and clock look somewhat cheap.



Unfortunately, the Kia Cee'd isn't exactly inspiring to drive, and compared to the Focus and SEAT Leon, it feels slightly inert.

On certain models, adjustable steering is an option, meaning that the driver can choose between Normal, Comfort and Sport modes. However, they don't really seem to make a lot of difference to the core problems with the Cee’d - that the nose feels heavy under cornering and the steering needs constant adjustment.

It's a shame that the handling isn't more polished at higher speeds, because at more sedate speeds around town the Cee'd is smooth and quiet with a lightness to all the main controls that makes it easy to manoeuvre.

Kia Cee'd interior

In terms of engines, the 1.4-litre petrol and two 1.6-litre diesels feel solid enough, but none are particularly exciting. It's worth noting that for drivers who do a lot of miles, the diesels are the best choice thanks to strong power delivery in normal driving conditions.

The 1.6-litre 200bhp Cee'd GT is punchy and feels fast, but it's more of a warm-hatch, as opposed to a full-on hot-hatch.




The latest Kia Cee'd first featured in our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey and finished 10th out of 150 cars. Kia as a whole performed well and ranked seventh out of 33 manufacturers, while a seven-year warranty proves how much confidence Kia has in its car too.

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 very strong, and it includes stability control, Isofix child seat fixings, seatbelt reminders and six airbags as standard. Buyers can also choose lane-departure warning as an optional extra.



The Kia Cee'd is undoubtedly practical, which is slightly unexpected given its small dimensions - it's just 4.310mm long, and 1,780mm wide.

However, intelligent design means the 380-litre boot of the Kia Cee'd is 60-litres larger than the one in the Ford Focus, and 10-litres bigger than the Vauxhall Astra. What's more, with the rear seats folded, this expands to a cavernous 1,318-litres. Should that not be enough space, buyers can also opt for the Kia Cee'd Sportswagen estate, which has a 1,664-litre boot.

Look closely, and it's clear that Kia has geared the Cee'd to family life, as it features plenty of interior storage spaces, and rear head and legroom are both very impressive.


Running Costs


Buyers seeking economy from their Kia Cee'd should go for the 1.6-litre CRDi ISG diesel, which returns 76.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 97g/km. This also means it's tax free and is similar to the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion in terms of economy but better value to buy.

Kia Cee'd models with the 1.6-litre CRDi and 1.6-litre GDI are also available with an automatic gearbox, but it drastically affects fuel consumption. GT models with their turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine achieve 38.2mpg, with CO2 emissions of 171g/km.

This being a Kia, you get an excellent seven-year warranty as well, which means repair costs will be minimised over your ownership.

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.

I had a go in one of these back to back with a golf.

The Kia was a far more likeable car. It makes the VW look really staid and dull.

I could not give a toss what the badge stands for. What does it stand for? What degree of prat you are?

I tried one, I found the steering vague & awful, you could call it exceptionally c'eedy.

The plastics are reasonable, nothing exceptional, but yet again it's the handling, the engines & gearboxes that seriously let the car down.

The infotainment system is awful, the one that I tried had sat nav and that was awful too, The software needs a radical rewrite to make it much more user friendly, the bluetooth system kept disconnecting from my phone & voice control is a joke, ask it to change radio & it wouldn't, ask it to do a phone call & it would change the radio!

I've had quite a few Kia's as hire cars and am always left wondering why the UK press is raving so much about them... granted they look reasonably good and next to the VW Golf it looks better, but step inside and it's a sea of black plastic (and not particularly good ones at that despite what AE say), confusing layout, and 1990s style seat fabrics.

I would agree that they are uninspiring to drive with lifeless steering. However, they are what they are and for many that warranty will be enough to seal the deal.

Another pointless anti VW/VAG rant.

And yet you feel the need to comment.

Of course and I will be keeping an eye on you too.

I love you! X

Awww, I never knew you cared.

Last updated: 30 Jun, 2014