What is it?
This is the new, apostrophe-free Kia Ceed, with a petrol engine.
Kia’s gunning for the Volkswagen Golf with the new Ceed, and it shows. Just take a look at the interior, where there's not a hard plastic in sight – at least where you regularly touch, anyway.
Getting into the finer details, the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol version is aiming squarely at the Golf’s 1.5-litre TSI Evo variant, as well as downsized versions of other mass-market family hatchbacks. Kia’s aspirations of a more premium position mean the Golf is in the crosshairs, though.
In £25,750 First Edition trim, it’s no bargain alternative, but it comes laden with tech and numerous option boxes ticked as standard. You’d be hard pushed to point it out from a regular Ceed, with no badging or shouty features signifying its First Edition status.
It’s the petrol motor under the bonnet that matters most, however, because this is the first time we’ve driven the 1.4 in the UK.
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.