Kia Ceed GT hatchback review (2019-2021)
"The Kia Ceed GT is a fun and practical ‘warm’ hatchback that blends a little extra performance with value for money"
- Fun to drive
- Good value
- Pleasant interior
- Can be thirsty
- Vague steering
- No automatic version
Kia and its sister brand Hyundai are on the offensive, threatening some of Europe’s most desirable models with their latest performance hatchbacks. While the Hyundai i30 N Performance mixes it with hot hatchbacks like the Renaultsport Megane RS and Honda Civic Type R, the Kia Ceed GT takes its own route.
With 201bhp from its 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the GT offers more pace than the average family car - including the regular Ceed - without treading on the toes of those involved in the hot hatch power race. In other words, this is a ‘warm’ rather than ‘hot’ hatch, with as much attention paid to tackling everyday tasks like driving to the shops as to scything down a twisty B-road.
This approach is reflected in how the Ceed GT feels and performs. The car will do 0-62mph in a brisk 7.2 seconds and it clings on tenaciously in corners, but does so without the ferocity of more focused performance hatchbacks. The suspension is only 5mm lower than standard, and some of its components have actually been softened to ensure the tyres always remain firmly in contact with the ground. The result is a performance hatch you could comfortably drive from one end of the country to the other without much complaint.
You'll occasionally want to put the car into its Sport mode, however, if only to enjoy the throaty exhaust note that permeates through the interior. Passengers will be impressed with the Ceed GT's sporty leather and suede seats, build quality and entertainment system; while the GT might not quite edge a Volkswagen Golf in these areas, its interior is a nicer place to sit than plenty of its mainstream rivals. Five doors and a 395-litre boot mean you shouldn't have to leave any passengers or luggage behind, either.
MPG, running costs & CO2
While it might be the firecracker in the Ceed range, the Ceed GT shouldn't prove exorbitantly expensive to run. Its 1.6-litre petrol engine has been designed with efficiency as well as performance in mind, and can return up to 41.5mpg. Drive the car hard and this figure will, of course, drop - but take it gently or cruise at A-road speeds in sixth gear and it should be possible to squeeze reasonable mileage out of a tank of fuel.
CO2 emissions of 155g/km will result in a high Benefit-in-Kind liability for company-car drivers, so it's unlikely to be a top choice for business use. Road tax is the standard rate per year.
Engines, drive & performance
The Ceed GT hatch gets the same 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine as the ProCeed GT, but where that model is only offered with an automatic gearbox, the hatch is offered with a six-speed manual instead. Elsewhere, the suspension has been lowered by 5mm and made firmer, and bigger brakes with red calipers have been fitted.
The difference between the sound of the GT and the standard Ceed is marked because the GT’s sport exhaust emits a throaty timbre, even in Normal mode. Select the Sport mode and the exhaust gets surprisingly loud, or at least it is inside the car, where some engine sound is boosted by the car's speakers. Happily this effect sounds more natural than it does in rivals such as the Peugeot 308 GT, so it doesn’t get grating. Pull away flat out and the car will get from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds, making it quicker than most family cars, without troubling any of the hot hatch elite. It’s an engine that feels happy to be worked hard, unlike many of the engines in Kia’s older cars.
It's GT’s chassis that offers the most fun, though, enabling the car to turn sharply and hug a corner more keenly than you might expect. Grip is shared evenly between the front and rear wheels, and the relatively soft ride means bumps are absorbed rather than translated into off-putting or uncomfortable bucking motions.
The Ceed GT isn't perfect, though, with steering that's accurate but largely devoid of feel. The electronic stability control (ESP) system can activate prematurely too, resulting in a feeling that the car is nannying you.
Interior & comfort
The standard Ceed has an interior that's come on leaps and bounds in quality and design terms, and Kia has sprinkled some sporty touches around the inside of the GT model to satisfy performance enthusiasts. Along with a black roof liner and red stitching, the highlights are an attractive steering wheel and leather/suede-effect sports seats that look great and are supportive during spirited driving. There's also a new mode in the 4.2-inch screen between the dials, providing real-time temperature and turbo boost gauges.
Practicality & boot space
The GT might offer more performance than the standard Ceed but there are no compromises as far as practicality goes. In fact, the Ceed has grown in width for this generation, providing more shoulder space for anyone sitting in the back. Headroom has also been improved by lowering the seats. It still doesn't feel quite as roomy as a Golf in the back, but the Ceed wins back points by offering 395 litres of boot space - 15 litres more than the Volkswagen.
Reliability & safety
Kia has become famous for its seven-year warranty in recent years, and that's sure to be even more reassuring when buying a performance model. Not that the 1.6-litre turbo is likely to give much cause for concern; it shouldn’t be near the limits of its potential in producing 201bhp, and it’s already well proven in other models. Kia is well regarded amongst owners, coming second out of 29 manufacturers in our latest Driver Power owner satisfaction survey and with 19.6% reporting a fault within the first year.