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In-depth reviews

Kia Ceed - Engines, performance and drive

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

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£22,575 to £31,175
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The changes Kia has made to improve the Ceed’s driving dynamics have paid off. Where the previous model was comfortable enough but wasn’t as much fun to drive as a Ford Focus, the latest car has a much-improved ride and handling balance.

It’s generally compliant and soaks up lumps and bumps well, although larger imperfections will still upset the Kia, whereas a VW Golf remains composed. Body lean is well-controlled in the bends, the steering is pretty direct, and there’s lots of grip. 

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We found the GT-Line model a little bit compromised compared with the other versions in the Ceed range, 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 Focus, for the way it drives, but it still rewards being driven hard in a way that the previous version doesn’t.

It’s a shame that the Ceed's gearboxes are one of its biggest weaknesses. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic 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 stick with 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, making it very difficult to drive smoothly. We found the latest Ceed was at its best at a motorway cruise, where you can let the revs remain low, and the ride settles down somewhat. That said, some of the Kia’s competitors, like the Toyota Corolla, are better at isolating road noise from the cabin, making them better long-distance cruisers.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

The 1.5-litre T-GDi ISG petrol engine that powers all Ceeds allows this family hatchback to do 0-60mph in 8.4 seconds with the manual gearbox, while opting for the DCT auto increases the time to 8.6 seconds – both versions have a 130mph top speed. 

That’s a competitive time when compared with the equivalent Focus and Golf, but the Honda Civic is much quicker, with a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds.

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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
    £22,470

Fastest

  • Name
    1.6T GDi ISG GT 5dr DCT
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £27,110

Shane is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2021, he worked as a radio producer and presenter for outlets such as the BBC.

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