Facelifted 2021 Kia Ceed driven

The Kia Ceed gets a refresh for 2021 with updated styling, engines and technology; we've driven an early example

  • Refreshed styling 
  • Flagship models feature upgraded infotainment system
  • New 1.5-litre petrol engine introduced 

This is the new facelifted Kia Ceed. The refreshed model is the first major update to the current Ceed since it was introduced three years ago, with the changes introducing an updated exterior design, new technology and a revised engine range. We've driven a near-production ready example - read on for our first impressions. 

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The changes apply to the Ceed hatchback, Ceed Sportwagon estate and the ProCeed Shooting Brake estate. Full UK pricing and specifications will be announced in the coming weeks, with the new car slated to go on sale later this year. Rivals include the Ford Focus, Peugeot 308 and Volkswagen Golf

2021 Kia Ceed: styling and design 

The Ceed gets a new nose, which now sports the brand’s new badge. Changes over the old car include a more upswept headlight design and a new gloss black front grille. The redesigned front bumper has a more angular design, and features a trio of larger air intakes. The ProCeed gets LED daytime running lights that double as scrolling indicators in top-spec GT Line S and GT trims. 

At the back, GT Line trim models are fitted with new tail lights featuring a honeycomb pattern. The rear bumper has larger contrasting rear inserts and a redesigned lower gloss black insert sporting silver trim. Kia has added three new alloy wheel designs, ranging from 16 to 18-inches in size, and two new paint colours called Orange Fusion and Machined Bronze. 

Interior and technology 

Higher trim level cars are fitted with a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital dial cluster. Kia has also added four new upholstery trim options, taking the total available to nine. 

The Sportwagon estate gets an electronically operated tailgate as standard, ventilated and heated front seats, two-zone automatic air conditioning, and heated rear seats are available on higher trim level models. The range-topping ProCeed GT S gets electrically adjustable front seats and a premium JBL stereo system with eight speakers.  

Kia has also strengthened the Ceed’s safety features with blind-spot collision alert and vehicle departure alert, the latter of which sounds an audible notification that the car in front has moved when sitting in traffic. A new rear-view monitor is also fitted, which uses a rear-mounted camera to give a clear view behind the car when reversing. 

Engines and performance

The refreshed Ceed is available with petrol and diesel engines, with the entry-level 118bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine carried over unchanged from the old car with a standard six-speed manual gearbox. 

Above this, a new 158bhp 1.5-litre petrol replaces the existing 1.4-litre engine. For higher mileage drivers, a 1.6-litre diesel engine is also available, featuring mild-hybrid electrical assistance to help improve fuel economy. Buyers can spec both of these engines with a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed automatic. 

The flagship GT spec car gets a more powerful 1.6-litre petrol engine, which produces 201bhp. It can only be had with a seven-speed automatic gearbox. Full details of performance, fuel economy and emissions will be announced in the coming months before the new car goes on sale. 

2021 Kia Ceed drive by Sean Carson

The latest Ceed gets a noticeably sharper look and Kia's new branding, designed to help push its models further upmarket. The GT-Line model we tested has sporty touches including LED headlights and gloss black 17-inch alloy wheels, along with a mixture of gloss black and chrome trim. There's also a bold new Orange Fusion colour for brave buyers.

The 1.5-litre T-GDi petrol engine is proof there's still room for new petrol engines. With 158bhp, the 'Smartstream' engine is paired with mild-hybrid technology and an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Provisional fuel economy figures of 48mpg with 136g/km CO2 emissions are good enough to appeal to private and company-car drivers alike.

Performance is adequate too, with decent grunt from 1,500rpm to pull the Ceed smoothly up to speed. It's not quite as refined as the best rivals, with a noticeable grumble if you work the engine a bit harder, and the automatic DCT gearbox seems to exacerbate this thanks to sluggish changes that become jerky in Sport mode. The car is at its best when the driver adopts a gentler style but we'll be interested to see how the manual compares; on this evidence it’s likely to be the better pick.

The fact the Ceed defaults to Eco mode is a hint at how Kia expects owners to drive it, and the petrol engine works best on the motorway, where it's quiet and the mild-hybrid system allows the engine to cut out seamlessly to boost efficiency. It's a shame, that the ride is too firm in the GT-Line model, which keeps the car flat in corners but sees the car react to even small road imperfections.

Verdict

The Kia Ceed's latest facelift goes further than most, giving the Korean family hatchback a sharp new look, upgraded infotainment and a smooth new engine. We'd save some money, though, and opt for the manual gearbox over the hesitant DCT automatic.

Read our review of the Kia XCeed, Sorento and e-Niro here. 

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