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New Kia XCeed 2019 review

The new jacked-up Kia XCeed hatchback fills a niche within a niche, but what's it like on UK roads?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The XCeed isn’t without merit. It rides nicely so it offers enough comfort, it’s practical and efficient, while performance is good enough, too. The infotainment is the highlight – we want to see this in all new Kias – but the XCeed’s real sticking point is its price. Unless the car’s SUV style is a must-have, a regular Ceed gives you much the same for less.

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A quick glance at the new Kia XCeed could have you confused. What’s the point in a raised-up psuedo-SUV based on a hatchback when Kia already sells the Stonic, Niro and Sportage models? It’s not quite as simple as that, though, because the XCeed is more than just some longer-travel suspension and black plastic wheelarches.

In fact, although it’s based on the same platform as the Ceed hatchback, the two cars only share their front door panels; the rest of the XCeed has been redesigned and subtly tweaked to create a more sloping roofline and a sportier stance as a result.

Kia XCeed in-depth review

The XCeed’s ground clearance has been increased by up to 42mm, but despite the extra body cladding, the most you’ll be able to do is some light off-roading. It’s more about the lifestyle look and Kia learning what it can unlock from its vehicle architecture.

The XCeed features hydraulic bump stops for its MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear axle, which help to smooth out bump absorption as the suspension gets towards the end of its travel; there’s a little more of that than in the hatch so this new Kia deals with rolling bumps with a well cushioned, relatively relaxed ride. Sharper, more jagged inputs do cause the wheels to thump a bit more, but it’s not too bad and the ride is fairly refined. Think of it as an even more comfortable, more forgiving Ceed in how it feels to drive. That means the steering is still relatively lifeless with little communication.

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However, it doesn’t boast the full-on ride height of an SUV, so it doesn’t roll too badly in corners, and it’s actually sweeter and more engaging to drive, even if it still can’t match something like a Ford Focus Active for steering precision and agility.

So it’s a fairly narrow niche that the XCeed fills, then: more comfortable than a family hatch and more involving and responsive than an SUV, even if these differences are relatively minor.

There is another drawback: the price. Spec-for-spec It’s at least £2,000 more expensive than a standard Ceed, depending on the engine and trim level – and there’s less choice in the XCeed line-up.

This 134bhp 1.6-litre CRDi turbodiesel in mid-spec 3 trim costs £25,345, but you do get a fair level of kit. This includes Kia’s new 10.25-inch infotainment set-up. The previous eight-inch unit was good, but this new screen has sharper graphics, quicker responses to your inputs and extra space to display more functions. It includes sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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The kit list also extends to keyless operation, LED lights, heated seats and steering wheel, cruise and climate control, a reversing camera and parking sensors. Quality is good, too, but then you’d expect it given how much the XCeed costs.

Diesel isn’t as popular a choice at the moment, but with 134bhp and 280Nm of torque from just 1,500rpm the XCeed feels flexible and pulls strongly. The engine is a little clattery at idle, but refinement isn’t bad and that torque combines with the ride to make it a nice motorway cruiser.

The 0-60mph sprint takes 10.2 seconds, but it’s the in-gear grunt that’s even more impressive, along with the benefits a modern EU6-compliant diesel like this brings when it comes to economy.

A claimed 64.2mpg in WLTP tests is good, and while the diesel car’s 116g/km CO2 emissions could be better, this actually outdoes all the petrol units on offer.

Combined with a 426-litre boot – 31 litres more than in a standard Ceed, despite the more rakish tailgate – and a roomy interior, it’s a practical machine. And of course Kia’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty means it should be dependable – especially if you do decide to head off the beaten track.

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