In-depth reviews

Kia Ceed review - Engines, performance and drive

The Ceed delivers a decent drive, although sportier GT Line models offer a firmer set-up

The changes Kia has made to improve the Ceed’s driving dynamics have paid off. Where the previous model was comfortable enough, it wasn’t much fun, but that has all changed now because the latest car has much improved ride and handling.

It’s generally compliant and soaks up lumps and bumps well, although larger imperfections will still upset the Kia where a VW Golf remains composed. But at the same time, body roll is well controlled, the steering is pretty direct, and there’s lots of grip. 

We found the GT Line model a little bit compromised, however, with an overly firm ride that is perhaps a little at odds with the ethos of a true family hatch. The sportier set-up means there is less body roll, but minor bumps in the road bring an unsettled feel.

The Ceed can't rival the class benchmark, the Ford Focus, for the way it drives, but the it still rewards being driven hard in a way that the previous version, and even its sister car the Hyundai i30, simply doesn’t.

It’s a shame that both manual and automatic gearboxes let the side down somewhat. The dual-clutch transmission isn’t as swift to change as the DSG in the VW Golf, and it's rather laggy when pulling away from a standstill. However, it shifts smoothly when used gently, and its software tuning is better than that of the same gearbox fitted to the Hyundai i30.

We’d choose a manual Ceed instead, if only because it's cheaper. It's still not great though; the engine revs tend to hang for a long time after the clutch is depressed, and it can make it very difficult to drive smoothly. When we tried the 158bhp 1.5-litre petrol we found it best at a motorway cruise, where you can let the revs remain low.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

We’d be tempted to try the 1.0 petrol engine, as the Ceed is at its best when being driven gently. The 118bhp 1.0-litre unit manages 0-62mph in a passable 11.2 seconds, with a top speed of 118mph.

Moving up to the 1.5-litre petrol means you'll achieve the same sprint in 8.4 seconds with the manual gearbox, while opting for the DCT auto sees a slightly slower time of 8.6 seconds - both versions have a 130mph maximum. The more efficent Xceed plug-in hybrid version reaches 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds.

Kia has yet to release data for the 1.6 CRDi diesel, but it should sit somewhere between the two petrols in terms of performance.

Next Steps

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0T GDi ISG 2 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £18,875

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 CRDi 48V ISG 2 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £21,055

Fastest

  • Name
    1.6T GDi ISG GT 5dr DCT
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £26,760

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