From £18,2958

Will it be third time lucky for Kia’s Europe-only hatchback - or are established rivals from Ford, VW, Seat and Honda still the better buy?

Over the course of the past decade, the Ceed has been the instrument through which its globally ascendant creator has sought to convince the most discerning car buyers in the world that it deserves a mention in the same breath as Volkswagen, Toyota, Renault, Nissan, Ford, Peugeot, Citroën and others; and that it can make cars of matching style, quality, performance and dynamic sophistication as those brands do.

The larger Kia Stinger has lately taken on a talismanic role in that mission and the popular and handsome Kia Sportage crossover has, at times, assumed a similar one.

Kia has gone against two generations of tradition and dropped the apostrophe from this name. It was coined as an acronym, with the ‘CEE’ part a reference to the European Economic Community

But the Ceed – an entrant into the important European C-segment hatchback market that was designed in Europe, is built in Europe and is sold exclusively in Europe – is greater proof than you’ll find anywhere else of how much European market success and esteem matters to the firm’s global bosses.

With this third-generation Ceed, Kia rolls its VW-Volkswagen Golf-rivalling hatchback onto a new model platform in a bid to make a more telling dent in the regional segment dominance of its European car-making rivals.

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The car gets a new compact diesel engine, too: the 113bhp 1.6-litre U3-generation CRDi in the entry-level sub-£20,000 example we’ve chosen to test. Stand by to find out how much closer either may bring Kia to the European market eminence it covets.

Kia Ceed First drives