Kia Ceed hatchback review
The Kia Ceed hatchback takes on the establishment and gets close to causing an upset, offering more space and fun than before
- Fun to drive
- Value for money
- Upmarket interior
- Quite high CO2 emissions
- Firm ride with large wheels
- Automatic lags behind rivals
Kia is a brand fizzing with confidence, so the sporty looks of the latest Kia Ceed hatchback shouldn’t be written off as style over substance. A widened tiger-nose grille takes inspiration from the Kia Stinger – the brand’s first supersaloon – and Kia has developed sharp new underpinnings for the Ceed to make it more engaging to drive.
A facelifted Kia Ceed was launched in 2021, freshening the car up in the face of strong rivals. There are redesigned headlights and extra gloss black trim, plus new colours and wheel designs. You may not even notice the changes, but there wasn’t too much wrong with the Ceed, and given the fact it’s Kia’s third best-selling car, updates are unsurprisingly minor.
It’s intended to appeal to keen drivers who might otherwise hop straight into a Ford Focus, SEAT Leon, Vauxhall Astra or Volkswagen Golf. The multiple front LEDs from GT Line Kias are now standard, so it certainly looks the part, with clean lines and a widened stance.
Faster steering and firm suspension mean there’s less rock and roll in corners, and the Ceed feels keen and agile enough to make it more rewarding to drive than the class norm. It’s not perfect, though: ride comfort has suffered as a result.
The engine range is well suited to the UK market. Despite its small capacity, most drivers will find the 118bhp 1.0-litre T-GDi powerful enough and it can return up to 54.3mpg. With CO2 emissions of 119g/km, company-car drivers may also find this version appealing. The 1.4-litre T-GDi petrol has now been replaced with a 1.5-litre version with 158bhp, hitting 60mph from a standstill in around 8.5 seconds, without using a great deal more fuel than the smaller and slower engine.
Long-distance drivers can still benefit from a diesel too, particularly as the 1.6-litre CRDi is all-new and now features mild-hybrid tech, returning up to 62.8mpg but requiring occasional AdBlue top-ups. It has 134bhp and takes a touch more than 10 seconds to get from 0-60mph. All models come with a six-speed manual gearbox. The 1.5-litre petrol and the 1.6-litre diesel have the option of a seven-speed automatic but we prefer the crisp-shifting manual.
Interior quality has taken another impressive leap upmarket, making it easy to talk about the Ceed and Golf in the same breath without any caveats. Material quality is excellent and the ‘floating’ touchscreen looks modern, while also allowing designers to make the dashboard particularly shallow to boost passenger space. There’s plenty of room for adults in the back and the 395-litre boot is larger than you’ll find in a Vauxhall Astra or Volkswagen Golf.
The Ceed is also very well equipped, with kit such as navigation using TomTom maps, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus an optional JBL speaker upgrade satisfying most tech-savvy customers. Convenience-boosting options like a heated windscreen and warmed or ventilated front seats are welcome, too.
Many will also choose the Ceed because of its long seven-year warranty, but given Kia’s impressive second-place finish in our 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, the chances are you shouldn’t need to use it.
It’s easy to forget the Kia Ceed is only on its third generation, because it’s already nipping at the heels of the Volkswagen Golf. It's not quite as consummate an all-rounder as the VW just yet, but it beats it in some key areas like practicality while also being impressively refined and better to drive than before.
The Kia Ceed range has grown, too; if the hatchback isn’t large enough to meet your requirements, Kia also offers the ProCeed shooting brake, XCeed crossover and Ceed Sportswagon estate - and the latter two are now available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Which Is Best?
- Name1.0T GDi ISG 2 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name1.6 CRDi 48V ISG 2 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name1.6T GDi ISG GT 5dr DCT
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto