Getting bigger – wider of track and longer overall – seems to have been just what the doctor ordered for the Ceed’s ride and handling.
For some, that idea may seem odd, given that plenty of this car’s competitors (Golf, Peugeot 308) seem to derive plenty of dynamic benefit from their compact overall proportions. But then it wasn’t outright grip or low-speed manoeuvrability the last Ceed was missing; more the parallel impressions of easily won, intuitive handling agility, fluent but dependable body control, good high-speed stability and supple ride sophistication that distinguish the very best cars in the class and make them seem so well rounded and easy to drive.
The new Ceed gets much closer to reproducing those key, tricky-to-tune dynamic qualities than any of its forebears have. The car’s single biggest advance might be how it steers. Gone is the leaden, sticky, monotone feel we’ve known in the car’s predecessors and in its place comes a rack of well-judged directness and weight; one with good centre feel, even capable of telegraphing the building of lateral load at the front axle usefully well.
The Ceed’s lateral body control, outright grip level and balance of grip are all fairly good, although in some of these respects our test car must have been a little adversely affected by the tyre specification of Kia’s aforementioned Eco pack and you’d have reason to expect better of a model in a higher trim level.
At normal road speeds, the car handles very well, with accurate and progressive corning manners, being easy to place and stable at high speeds. On its Michelin Energy Saver tyres, the car pushed into understeer sooner than some of its competitors might have, but not until it was being driven harder than anyone would venture on the road. When it did, however, it showed that its traction and stability controls also have the tuning sophistication you’d hope for.
The car’s ride was quiet and absorptive for the most part, with just a hint of the sort of noise and fussiness that experience teaches you to associate with efficiency-boosting low-rolling-resistance tyres and lowered suspension springs.
Despite having its outright grip and balance compromised by its tyre specification, the Ceed also showed off a creditable depth of dynamic integrity on the Millbrook hill route, handling with linearity of response and staying stable and predictable even when leant on hard.