In-depth Reviews

Kia Ceed hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

Both of the Kia Ceed's T-GDI petrol engines are smooth and punchy, but the smaller engine should be enough for most

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4.3 out of 5

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3.5 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

Kia has designed the latest Ceed to be more engaging, sharpening up its chassis and serving up quicker steering with fewer turns lock-to-lock. Drivers can also choose from Normal and Sport modes, adjusting settings like the feel of the steering and sensitivity of the throttle to suit more relaxed, economy-focused driving or having a bit more fun.

The steering impresses with its direct and weighty feel, while there’s less body lean than in previous versions of Kia’s family hatch. Ride comfort in town on 17-inch alloy wheels (fitted to most trim levels) disappoints, because while the stiff new suspension helps cornering, the Ceed has a firmer ride than before. It’s grippy and composed, though, making the Ceed more enjoyable than the Hyundai i30, even if it’s not quite an enthusiast's choice like the Ford Focus or Mazda3.

Kia Ceed petrol engines

There are three petrol engines and all can be recommended, depending on your needs. The 1.0-litre T-GDI has 118bhp and accelerates from 0-60mph in 10.7 seconds, while the new 1.4-litre T-GDI with 138bhp takes a respectable 8.6 seconds to do the same. It’s an impressive engine, feeling smooth and punchy when pulling away or if you put your foot down in a higher gear.

A 1.6-litre petrol with 201bhp is reserved for the GT model; it’s not quite a hot hatchback like the Honda Civic Type R but its 7.2-second 0-60mph time is pretty quick. It’s only available with Kia’s seven-speed automatic gearbox and is a little heavier on fuel, managing 38.2mpg.

Every engine besides the 1.6-litre petrol is paired with a six-speed manual gearbox, unless you choose the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, which is available for the 1.4-litre T-GDi petrol and 1.6-litre CRDi diesel. This costs around £800, but we found it could be a bit sluggish, so we recommend sticking with the easy and sweet-shifting manual.

Diesel engines

Kia introduced an all-new 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine with 114bhp in 2018. Not only is it quieter than before, it’s also a lot cleaner. Both the manual and automatic versions take 10.5 seconds to go from 0-60mph. Despite the engine’s relatively modest output, it feels brisk enough on the road and proves a good match for the 1.6-litre TDI in the Volkswagen Golf, with its extra torque making it feel a bit quicker in real-word scenarios. It’s just as quiet and boasts smooth power delivery, too.

A 134bhp version of the same engine is also available. It reduces the 0-60mph time down to 9.8 seconds but you’ll see a slightly lower fuel economy figure as a result.

Hybrid engines

Eventually, the Ceed engine range will likely feature Kia’s latest ‘EcoDynamics+’ mild-hybrid technology, which recuperates some energy as the car decelerates and under braking, stores it in a small battery and then uses it to assist the engine under acceleration. Not only does this improve the efficiency of the engine, it also allows the stop-start to work more of the time.

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