From £18,2958

Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

The handiwork of Kia design luminaries Peter Schreyer and Gregory Guillaume is immediately recognisable on the Ceed.

At the front, there’s the familiar ‘tiger nose’ grille and castellated upper windscreen, and you may just be able to make out the hints of Stinger GT in the swept-back headlight design and lowered, widened, front air intake. Move your gaze backwards, though, and the latest Kia becomes much more nondescript, almost to the point of becoming forgettable.

I can’t help but feel the design team responsible for the Ceed spent all of its time on the Stingeresque front end before giving up on the rest. From many angles, the design leaves me cold

Its lines, profile and overall appearance are certainly handsome, but it’s a sort of derivative handsomeness you can’t help but think has been designed with uncharacteristic conservatism. In a lot of ways, it looks a lot like several other C-segment hatchbacks launched in the past few years and, in that respect, it’s the sort of car you might have expected from Kia five or 10 years ago.

As for the hardware, the Ceed is based on Kia’s new K2 platform, which allows its width to swell by 20mm, while its roofline dips 23mm closer to the ground. It has grown in overall length, too, now measuring 4.6m – an increase of 95mm. The wheelbase remains the same at 2650mm although the cabin has been shifted back by 68mm within it, lending the Ceed a ‘cab-rearward’ profile that supposedly improves occupant protection in the event of a collision while also improving visibility around the A-pillars.

There’s a transversely mounted 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engine up front in our test car, although 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre petrol powerplants are also available. The diesel develops 113bhp at 4000rpm and 207lb ft is available between 1500rpm and 2750rpm. This is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.

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Front suspension, meanwhile, is by MacPherson struts and an anti-roll bar. A multi-link arrangement with trailing arm and anti-roll bar are employed at the rear. Kia has fettled the front spring rates, ratcheting up stiffness by 40%, and the torsional rigidity of the front stabiliser has been reduced by 22% – the aim of these modifications being greater mechanical grip and more incisive handling, causes also helped by the car’s wider axle tracks. At the back, a 10% drop in effective spring rate is intended to give the Ceed a more pliant ride.