What is it?
There’s a new reasonably priced car out. This is it. The new Kia Ceed, not quite as reasonably priced as it was, years ago, in those days we barely remember, when Kia was a budget brand and fewer people thought the world was flat. Happy times.
But from £18,295, it’ll be reasonable enough. Anyway, today Kia’s third-generation Ceed loses its apostrophe, gets a new bodyshell that’s 23kg lighter than the old one and yet stiffer because of more high-strength steel content, and a load of other technology, like lane assist and adaptive cruise control, which has put those 23kg back in again.
That’s what the Ceed is about now: quite big changes beneath that don’t actually seem to affect it on the surface. It’s the same length as it was, for example, at 4310mm, but with a shorter front and longer rear overhang, the boot is the second-biggest in the class (395-1292 litres).
It happens to have the lowest load height and a wide rear opening, too, and because the Ceed is lower, so sits the driver, which drops the centre of gravity.
What's it like?
And that’s all good, because it means that the Ceed is among the best cars in its class to drive - thanks, I suspect, to a team that genuinely cares about it. The previous Ceed wasn’t bad – taller, overburdened by apostrophe, granted – but it always had independent rear suspension. Still does.
There’s now a faster steering rack, firmer front springs but softer rear springs, and softer anti-roll bars all around, to try to balance a tendency to plough onwards fairly early, feel more agile – more Ford Focusy, I suspect. It does too.
It rides comfortably, steers accurately and with a really decent, natural-feeling weight build-up. I think the Focus probably retires still being the best in the class to drive, and there’s something reassuring about the way a Volkswagen Golf goes down the road, too, but the Ceed is certainly in the mix, as one of the two or three nicest cars in the class to drive. Not as agile as a Focus, but with a pleasing blend of ride, handling and control-weight comfort.
The drive, as usual, is better with a lighter engine. The 1.6 diesel (114bhp or 135bhp) is much quieter than a prototype I drove a few months ago, but the petrols are better. There’s a good 138bhp 1.4 turbo petrol, a 99bhp naturally aspirated 1.4 and a three-cylinder 1.0 turbo petrol with 118bhp.