Road tests

New Kia XCeed 1.5 T-GDi 2021 review

The new 1.5-litre petrol engine boosts the appeal of the Kia XCeed crossover hatch

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4.0 out of 5

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The Kia XCeed is as good as it ever was when it comes to comfort and tech, and this new 1.5-litre petrol engine is punchy, smooth and refined. It could be more economical and the XCeed is a little pricey as a cash buy, but it’s an accomplished family car with plenty of room inside, lots of great standard tech and – for some buyers – those all-important SUV looks.

With its raised ride height and more rugged-looking body trim, the Kia XCeed looked a bit like an attempt to cash in on SUV design trends when it was launched a few years ago.

However, we’ve come to discover that the XCeed actually has some genuine appeal over the Ceed hatchback, and now it’s been refreshed with a new petrol engine.

It’s a 1.5 T-GDi turbocharged four-cylinder motor that replaces the old 1.4-litre unit. Here we’re testing it out in high-spec 4 trim, which is priced from £28,880.

The new engine produces 158bhp and 253Nm of torque, so the XCeed is a direct rival for the 153bhp version of the 1.0 EcoBoost-powered Ford Focus Active. The Kia is available with a manual gearbox featured here – a conventional six-speed unit rather than the company’s new iMT intelligent Manual Transmission – or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The motor feels fit for purpose in a number of ways. Thanks to those generous power figures, performance is good – 0-60mph takes 8.7 seconds, which is fine for a family car such as this, and the punchy turbo power means it’s good for overtaking without having to change down a gear.

It’s also quiet and smooth, especially when you settle down to a cruise on the motorway. Since its maximum torque arrives at 1,500rpm, you can keep revs low most of the time. Let them drop below that, though, and it feels a bit lacking – you end up needing more throttle than expected to pull away on a hill, for example.

These occasions are few and far between, though, and once you’re up and running it’s a good engine. The 1.0-litre unit in the Focus is still more fun to use, though.

One aspect that we were disappointed to see was that this new engine couldn’t deliver on its fuel economy claims – even though the official figures aren’t all that impressive in the first place. We found that even over a lot of motorway miles the Kia couldn’t match its 44.8mpg official figure, and on our tank-to-tank run it returned just 36.4mpg. Otherwise, the XCeed is good to drive.

It has clever hydraulic bump stops on its suspension, which means that harsh impacts don’t crash into the cabin, so it rides relatively well over rippled country roads. The steering is devoid of feel and feedback, but the Kia still offers a small amount of interest to drive because it has a good driving position, a slick gearshift and plenty of grip. It’s not as much fun as a Focus Active, but is more enjoyable than you might expect, which is a bonus.

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Our high-spec test car’s cabin is smart but plain – it doesn’t have the high-quality feel of models such as the Mazda CX-30, for example. Its best point is the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which has all the features you need, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. It’s easy to use and quick to respond to inputs.

There’s also a 12.3-inch digital dashboard on this model, which looks modern, plus a wireless phone charger, connected services for the sat-nav and plenty of parking-assist features, including sensors all round and a reversing camera.

This 4 model also comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated seats and a heated steering wheel, so it’s really well equipped. However, at £28,880 it ought to be, because it’s a little pricey. In comparison, a Focus Active has most of the same kit and a better driving experience, but for less money, so it’s a bit of a thorn in the XCeed’s side.

However, search the Internet and you’ll be bombarded with incredibly affordable lease deals even on this high-spec XCeed with its new engine, which sweetens the prospect. The XCeed’s practicality is also appealing, because it has 426 litres of boot space, which is more than the 375 litres you get in the Focus.

There’s enough room for adults in the rear seats because head and legroom is good, plus there’s a decent amount of storage inside. Pragmatic buyers will also be aware of the fact that all Kias come with a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty as standard, which is great for both cash buyers and those buying used in a few years. For some, the appeal of the XCeed’s rugged crossover looks when compared with a conventional family hatchback means it might be a more popular choice.

Model: Kia XCeed 1.5 T-GDi 4
Price: £28,880
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque: 158bhp/253Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 
0-60mph: 8.7 seconds
Top speed: 129mph
Economy: 44.8mpg
CO2: 143g/km
On sale: Now

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