What's it like?
This car is competent. Fiercely so. It’s one of the more inspiring hatchbacks to drive, with nippy, direct steering that’s nicely weighted, if a little numb around the centre. There’s a lot of grip to be taken advantage of, and the engine note is surprisingly sporty.
It’s a slight shame that such an entertaining car to drive wasn’t given slightly more power. As it is, it makes 138bhp and 177lb ft to the Golf 1.5’s 150bhp and 184lb ft, so it's slightly slower from 0-62mph.
Power delivery is less lumpy than that of other downsized engines, although a more immediate throttle response or bigger delivery of power low-down in the range would benefit the car greatly. As it is, there’s a pause under acceleration that’s about 50% too long to not be frustrating.
It’s a smooth engine, though, and virtually no vibrations from the engine make it through to the interior, while the only engine noise that seeps through is easy on the ear. At motorway speeds, the engine is hushed, and there’s less road roar than many competitors, making it impressively quiet when at a cruise.
Unfortunately, Kia still hasn't quite got the ride right. There's a fidgetiness that the brand can’t seem to shake at motorway speeds. Smaller dips and joins are noticeable where others would absorb the disturbance, while larger bumps are impolitely loud. Anything between 20mph and motorway pace is decent - well damped, comfortable and smooth - but things get a little clunky below that speed. The 17in wheels of our test car likely didn't help.
Interior niggles keep the Ceed from worrying the Golf too much; the infotainment needs some ease-of-use lessons from Wolfsburg, although it’s easy to see that considerable effort has gone into the button layout to make things as intuitive as possible.
Should I buy one?
Depending on what else you’re considering, the Ceed should definitely be on your shortlist. Although it's not class-leading, it’s not far off the mark in many areas.
The ride is the car’s biggest major flaw; it’s not hot hatch-hard, but it’s bumpier than it should be and easily disturbed by ridges in the road. In a car with fewer and fewer faults each time it returns, that’s a conspicuous one.
With petrol now the mainstream option, rather than an alternative to diesel power, it has good points from both worlds: an ability to crunch miles in relative peace and quiet, as well as to return low running costs. Kia claims 48.7mpg on the WLTP test cycle, which was easily approached on our test route with little conscious effort to go easy on fuel.