Used Kia Cee'd (Mk2, 2012-2018) review

A full used buyer’s guide on the Kia Cee’d covering the Cee’d Mk2 (2012-2018)

As Kia has moved upmarket in recent years, the desirability of its cars has increased – along with the prices. But sales have stayed strong, which is no surprise because Kia still produces some of the best-value cars in each of the segments in which it competes, and some of the most reliable. The Cee’d is a perfect case in point because it comes with more kit than many of its rivals but costs less. Factor in a high-quality interior, some very good engines and transmissions, plus a spacious cabin and big boot, and it’s easy to see why the Mk2 Cee’d range has been such a hit.

The all-new Kia Ceed recently reached showrooms. Not only has the firm dropped the apostrophe for this latest generation, prices for top-spec cars are now nudging £25,000. That’s a lot for a hatch made by a brand often seen as a budget choice. It’s great, but its predecessor was good, too, and you can buy one for less than £5,000.

Launched back in 2012, the second-generation Cee’d was a major improvement over its forebear and, incredibly, even the earliest of these cars still just about carry their original warranty. It’s a compact family hatch that appeals on so many levels, and while the sporty Cee’d GT won’t trouble its performance rivals, the regular models can give mainstream cars a run for their money. 


The Cee’d Mk2 five-door hatch appeared in June 2012, then the three-door Pro_Cee’d arrived early in 2013. From the outset there were 1.4 or 1.6 petrol or diesel engines, with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, and an automatic transmission as an option for the bigger units. The 1.6 CRDi got a conventional auto box, but the 1.6 GDi (petrol) has a dual-clutch set-up.

At launch there were five trim levels (1, 2, 3, 4 and 4 Tech). By September 2012 a Cee’d SW (estate) had joined the range with 1.4 or 1.6 diesel engines, then in April 2014 the Cee’d GT arrived, with a 201bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

A facelifted Cee’d arrived in October 2015 and had new driver aids, a GT-Line trim, recalibrated suspension and steering. A 1.0 turbo petrol engine also appeared.

Which one should I buy?

If you want sparkling performance, avoid the naturally aspirated 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines, which feel less than muscular; the diesels and 1.0 turbo petrol are more zesty.

All Cee’ds have air-con as well as heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, front electric windows, a multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth and a cooled glovebox. The Cee’d 2 adds 16-inch alloys, electrically folding door mirrors, powered rear windows, cruise control and reversing sensors.

Move up to the Cee’d 3, and it’ll come with privacy glass, automatic lights, dual-zone climate control, touchscreen sat-nav and a reversing camera, while 4 spec adds 17-inch wheels, leather trim and a heated steering wheel. 4 Tech gets a panoramic roof, xenon lights and front parking sensors. The 2-based GT-Line has sportier detailing inside and out.

Alternatives to the Kia Cee’d Mk2

The Vauxhall Astra is great value, and offers loads of engines and trims. It looks smart, too, but is uninspiring to drive.

A Ford Focus is more fun; it’s also excellent value and there are loads on the used market. Again, buyers have lots of engines and trims to choose between.

Perhaps the best all-rounder is the VW Golf, but next to the Kia it is costly. The Mazda 3 looks smart, is great to drive, nicely built and well equipped.

The Peugeot 308 Mk2 (from 2014) offers great value, low running costs and excellent practicality. You’d be wise to have a look at the Hyundai i30 and Honda Civic, too. 

What to look for 


Many Cee’ds are fitted with stop/start (ISG). It can be slow to work, usually because the battery is low on charge. 


When it’s cold, some examples of the Cee’d suffer from condensation on the inside of the windows, and poor demisting.

DRL failure

The car’s LED daytime running lights are known to fail sometimes, and replacement of the unit under warranty is generally the solution.


The headlights can flicker at times, usually when switched to automatic mode – but it can happen in manual mode, too. 


Across the range, you’ll find a steering wheel that’s adjustable for both reach and rake fitted to the Cee’d as standard, along with a height-adjustable driver’s seat. Throw in supportive seats, high-quality materials plus a clean design and this Kia is very easy to live with. With a 380-litre boot (or up to 1,318 litres with the rear seats folded), the Cee’d is without doubt a practical car as well.

Running costs

Most Cee’ds are bought with a transferable plan called Kia Care, providing servicing for three to five years on any Kia up to its fifth birthday.

If no service plan is in place, the first four diesel services cost £69, £219, £69 and £299; for petrol-engined cars these are £139, £199, £139 and £249.

All engines have a timing chain. Fresh brake fluid is required every two years (at £50) while the coolant lasts 10 years or 100,000-120,000 miles. 


Remarkably, the Cee’d Mk2 has had no recalls. Even more so, the original Cee’d, launched in 2007, has a similarly unblemished recall record. In fact, since 2012, Kia has issued just eight recalls across its entire model range. However, one of these recalls affected most of the cars in Kia’s line-up, which could suffer from a faulty brake light switch. 

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The Cee’d Mk2 came 30th in this year’s Auto Express Driver Power used car survey and 61st in the new car poll. In the latter the stand-out rating it earned was for practicality, but the Kia is unexceptional in other categories. In the used car survey, once again the Cee’d doesn’t stand out anywhere but it scores well in most areas; the exterior gets the lowest ranking.

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