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New Kia Ceed 1.0 T-GDi 2 2022 review

The entry-level Kia Ceed 2 is one of the most affordable family hatchbacks on sale – but is it good enough to topple the Volkswagen Golf Life?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Kia’s most affordable Ceed offers many of the features and traits you could want in a family hatchback. There’s plenty of space, just enough pace and sufficient technology to mean it doesn’t feel basic. More importantly, it’s keenly priced. Costing around £2,000 less than the base-model Ford Focus and £4,000 less than the entry-level VW Golf, the Ceed majors on value, but doesn’t lose out too much in other areas.

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Kia’s third-generation Ceed hatchback has been on sale for three years now and it’s proved itself a worthy competitor for the likes of the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf.

However, the true test of a family hatchback’s gumption is how well the entry-level model performs once you’ve stripped away trinkets such as high-tech infotainment systems and posh interior trim. And, we’re happy to report that the Ceed fares well.

The cheapest Ceed 2 specification does without the integrated sat-nav, heated seats and dual-zone climate control you get on the flagship GT-Line model – but the interior isn’t exactly spartan. You still get a leather multifunction steering wheel, cruise control and a handy screen in the centre of the binnacle to display information like fuel economy and range.

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The eight-inch infotainment system isn’t quite as sharp as the flagship Ceed’s 10.25-inch system, but the menus are well laid out and it has all the connectivity features you need thanks to standard-fit Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Voice control is standard, too.

Another strength of the entry-level Ceed’s interior is that it’s easier to get comfortable behind the wheel. The cheaper model’s manual seats are mounted lower and have a bit more adjustment than the electric seats found on top-spec cars. There’s plenty of adjustment in the steering column, too, meaning you’re not over-reaching for the wheel if you’re tall.

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The entry-level engine is Kia’s familiar turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit, which is also found in the Stonic and the Rio. Here, it produces 118bhp and 172Nm of torque.

It’s actually quite a willing unit given the size of the car it has to pull. You have to work the gearbox to get the best performance from the engine, but all of the torque is available from just 1,500rpm. So, as long as you’re in a low enough gear, you’ll have no problem joining motorway traffic or overtaking. 

Kia has also managed to make the engine quite frugal despite the need to work it. Combined fuel economy is a claimed 54.3mpg and, while you’re unlikely to see that figure on a regular basis in the real world, a consistent average of upwards of 40mpg should be achievable if you don’t thrash it.

The six-speed manual gearbox isn’t the best in the class, though. It can be a little clunky if you rush through a gear change and the ECU hangs onto the engine revs for slightly too long after you depress the clutch, which can make it tricky to change gear smoothly. But it’s cheaper than the automatic version of the Ceed, which is why we’d opt for it.

The chassis also makes up for the gearbox’s shortfalls, as it manages to be both comfortable and fun to drive. It can’t quite compete with the Ford Focus for driver involvement, but it’s rewarding enough to put a smile on your face when hustling it down a bumpy B-road. It’s good at smoothing out longer dips and crests on A-roads, too.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Kia Ceed, though, is its value. Prices for the cheapest Ceed 2 start from £20,105, which is more than £4,000 less than the entry-level Volkswagen Golf Life. And, despite the massive price gulf, if you opt for the Kia, you’re getting a car with more standard equipment and a bigger boot.

So, if you just want something that’s comfortable, reliable and affordable – and you’re happy being seeing a car without a posh German badge on its nose – the Ceed should be up near the top of your shopping list.

Model:Kia Ceed 1.0 T-GDi 2
Engine:Turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol
Transmission:Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
0–62mph:11.2 seconds
Top speed:118 mph
Economy:54.3mpg (WLTP)
On Sale:Now
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