From £18,2958
Third-generation Korean hatchback can now compete for class honours

Our Verdict

Kia Ceed 2018 road test review front tracking

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?

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.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

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.

It’s mated to a slick, six-speed manual that thrums along nicely, feeling a bit long-geared as it does, maybe – although that’s not unusual for a three-pot. Probably why it can return 50mpg on the new WLTP drive cycle, although 35-40mpg is more likely from my limited drive.

Inside, the new Ceed is rather less remarkable than its driving experience. A centre touchscreen works pretty well, and ergonomically it’s sound, while there’s good head and leg room all round – an adult can sit comfortably behind a tall adult. But there’s little flair in the execution, and where there are metallised-plastic highlights, on the steering wheel and auto gearlever gate (a seven-speed dual-clutcher I’ve tried on the 1.4 T: agreeably smooth), they’re big enough to both reflect the sun and remind you that they’re not actually metal at all.

A digital set of dials is coming next year, as is a mild-hybrid system, and a few new bodystyles, starting, but not ending, with a conventional estate.

Should I buy one?

All of which leaves the Ceed where in the class? Comfortably near the top.

It gets the vehicle dynamics bit right, for which you and I should rejoice. And perhaps it’s mean to expect too much else from an excitement perspective: it’s not as if a Peugeot 308, or even the VW Golf or Ford Focus, is like stepping into a Swedish show home.

Anyway, there you go: used to be reasonably priced. Now reasonably very good indeed.

Kia Ceed 1.0 T-GDI ‘2’ specification

Where Portugal Price £18,295 On sale August Engine 3 cyls, 998cc, turbo, petrol Power 118bhp at 6000rpm Torque 127lb ft at 1500-4000rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1297kg Top speed 118mph 0-62mph 11.1sec Fuel economy 50.4mpg CO2 128g/km Rivals Ford Focus, Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf

Join the debate

Comments
15

18 June 2018

The praise seemed to come begrudgingly in this review of a handsomely styled and apparently good to drive car.

19 June 2018
si73 wrote:

The praise seemed to come begrudgingly in this review of a handsomely styled and apparently good to drive car.

I didn't get the feeling that it was begrudging at all.

18 June 2018

I can't help but feel it looks a little dated after just 1 day.  And that makes me feel a little cold towards it.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

FMS

24 June 2018
xxxx wrote:

I can't help but feel it looks a little dated after just 1 day.  And that makes me feel a little cold towards it.

 

Ah yes...indeed. TWIT.

FMS

24 June 2018
xxxx wrote:

I can't help but feel it looks a little dated after just 1 day.  And that makes me feel a little cold towards it.

 

Ah yes...indeed. TWIT.

18 June 2018

Sounds like a very well judged car - very much aimed at the Golf.  The pricing is creeping up and it looks a little straight-laced.  Moreover, the differentiation between this and the equivalent Hyundai has completely blurred, which makes little sense from within the Hyundai Group.

The car-buying public gets what it deserves, unfortunately ...

18 June 2018

Basically a slightly sharper Hyundai i30. And that is a good car so no surprise this is too. A petrol estate would be a much more satisfying and cheaper to run proposition than a diesel SUV for most families... but will buyers take heed?

18 June 2018

Not bad, but the styling is too much in the Mercedes A Class idiom.

18 June 2018

Nice car, good to see a manufacturer still keeping with IRS across the range.

Very similar looking to the Hyundai though, which is a shame. The doors look identical for a start

18 June 2018

This appears to be a smartly styled, good to drive vehicle which I'm sure will be very easy to live with. Sure, it looks similar to the A-Class, but as they've both arrived at the same time, one cannot be accused of copying the other. This is probably the better of the two to my eyes. And  if that "little flair" to the interior means that it will be easy and safe to navigate that's surely a good thing.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week