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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

Relatively clattery diesel engines have been a cause of criticism of Kia’s cars over the past 20 years, but the Ceed’s new diesel seems to be cut from a different cloth.

The new-generation U3 diesel feels as well isolated in the nose of the Ceed as almost any like-for-like diesel in the hatchback class. And although there’s a faintly rough quality to the timbre of the noise that it makes when it’s working, the Ceed’s engine proves highly competitive for outright measurable quantity of noise: it’s quieter at 50mph, by our measurements, than an equivalent diesel-powered Renault Mégane, Vauxhall Astra and Mazda 3.

16in wheels are standard fare for Ceeds in 2 specification and they look slightly lost within their arches. Larger 17s are fitted to Blue Edition, 3 and First Edition variants

Next, after that improved mechanical refinement, you might notice how long-geared the Ceed seems. A longer final drive ratio is something that Kia Europe offers as part of an optional Eco pack available on the 1.0-litre turbo petrol and 1.6-litre diesel versions of the car. However, rather than complicate the buying process and miss out on the ‘standard’ taxable emissions gains it delivers, Kia UK simply fits the pack as standard on its lower-grade petrol and diesel derivatives.

If you want a 99g/km Ceed, then, you have to buy a Ceed 1.6 CRDi 2; and if you want to avoid the long cruising legs, low-resistance tyres and lowered suspension springs necessary to optimise the car’s efficiency, you simply buy 3 specification or above.

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Even if you stick with a 2 model, as we did for the purposes of this test and as anyone with one eye on their benefit-in-kind tax liability surely will, you’ll get a car that narrowly dips under 10sec to 60mph from rest – faster-accelerating in that respect than a like-for-like Mégane 1.5 dCi (11.1sec), Astra 1.6 CDTi 110 (10.8sec) and outgoing Focus 1.5 TDCi 120 (10.9sec).

The Ceed has all three beaten on 30-70mph acceleration through the gears, too, although not on in-gear acceleration. Here, the car pays a penalty for its long final drive ratio, needing more than 18sec to cover 30-70mph in fourth gear where the Ford does it in little more than 12sec.

On the road, those long gear ratios are occasionally problematic, too. Ushering the car into motion takes a more deliberate juggling of clutch and accelerator than some will be used to, and managing the powertrain into higher gears at lower speeds takes care as well. Third gear is best for urban motoring and avoiding sixth advisable on anything other than a decently quiet motorway on which you can choose a cruising speed and stick with it. The gearlever moves in light and accurate fashion through the gate and has adequate, although not outstanding, mechanical feel.

The clutch itself is medium weighted and pleasant to use. Both controls make the regular changes necessary to maintain an assertive stride in the Ceed easy to execute. The engine response and usable operating range, meanwhile, also contribute to the Ceed’s respectable overall drivability, both being better than those of some small-capacity diesels.