Road tests

New Kia XCeed PHEV 2022 review

Is plug-in hybrid the best version of the updated Kia XCeed crossover?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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Plug-in hybrids have progressed quickly, but despite some visual updates and tech tweaks, the new Kia XCeed doesn’t offer the most sophistication, pure-electric range or refinement, even if the ride is okay. Given the hefty premium over the petrol model and the drop in boot space, you’ll have to really value the extra efficiency or tax advantages to take the plunge. 

Kia is something of a hybrid pioneer and the XCeed crossover is one of its most popular models in the UK. It’s likely, then, that this XCeed Plug-in Hybrid will be a big seller for the brand over here.

Refreshed alongside the petrol model, this petrol-electric variant gets a similar round of updates. But its 1.6-litre engine, 8.9kWh battery and electric motor are unchanged, so total output stands at 139bhp and 265Nm of torque.

More important is the all-electric range, which is 30 miles. That’s not the biggest by modern PHEV standards, but still a useful dose of electrification that could help to lower your running costs, with claimed fuel economy of more than 200mpg, CO2 emissions of 32g/km and a Benefit-in-Kind company car tax rating of 12 per cent.

There are three driving modes, but we doubt that anyone buying a PHEV like this will select Sport on a regular basis. Eco and Normal are the natural choices, with the former maximising efficiency. There’s not much performance to speak of anyway, because despite the boost of torque from the electric motor, the XCeed still feels sluggish to rev – and the petrol engine sounds coarse when worked hard.

Part of this lack of urgency is also down to the gearbox. While the six-speed dual-clutch automatic unit is fine under normal conditions, the shifts could be faster. In fact, they’re noticeably slow, which helps explain a 10.9-second 0-60mph time.

Mind you, the gearchanges are at least smooth. And if you settle down at a relaxed pace to maximise efficiency, the XCeed’s chassis also makes more sense.

The steering is well weighted and offers fair precision. There’s enough grip, too, but this is far from a dynamic crossover. At least the ride quality is comfortable, thanks to having the same suspension tech as the petrol model, featuring hydraulic bump stops on its front axle for a plusher feel. This is helped by a slick transition between petrol and electric power, even if the 1.6-litre unit’s noise does become obvious.

There are some useful updates inside too, with the XCeed benefiting from Kia’s Multi-mode panel that first featured on the EV6. This means you can switch between climate control and audio options on a slim panel under the main screen, retaining physical controls for the main functions. Combined with the revised infotainment set-up that now features more connected services, the tech works well.

The Plug-in Hybrid is only available in 3 trim, which means the main screen is a 10.25-inch unit. The colours are bright and the responses to your inputs are decent, although the graphics could be sharper.

It’s a shame, too, that the desirable 12.3-inch digital dash only comes on top-spec GT-Line S models that aren’t available with this PHEV powertrain. Other standard features on this model include LED lights, smartphone connectivity, a reversing camera and, of course, Kia’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Meanwhile, interior build quality feels solid enough, even if some materials focus more on durability than style. Given the £32,945 price tag of our test car, this could be hard for some to swallow.

That’s £7,100 more than the (manual-only) 1.5-litre petrol in the same trim, which offers more power and stronger performance. Given the relatively old-school powertrain compared with more modern plug-ins – even from within the Kia stable – private buyers may baulk at spending the extra on this PHEV, especially given that it offers just 291 litres of boot space, whereas the petrol car provides 426 litres. However, company users may be attracted by the low BiK rates.

At least there’s good space in the rear for a hatchback-derived crossover. As long as you don’t have much luggage, the XCeed PHEV will still stand up to family life.

Model:Kia Xceed PHEV 3
Engine:1.6-litre 4cyl + 1x e-motor
Transmission:Six-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive 
0-60mph:10.9 secs
Top speed:99mph
EV range:30 miles
On sale:Now

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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