If the design, ergonomics and credible dynamics of the most recent Ceed demonstrate that Kia should now be considered alongside any other European maker of mass-market hatchbacks, then the Xceed is the derivative perfectly tailored to the current tastes of European buyers.
And if that sounds like an exaggerated claim, consider this: half of car sales in the mammoth compact segment are now accounted for by crossovers of some description.
The Xceed is therefore the car Kia would clearly be foolish to leave on the drawing board, and it duly ticks the boxes buyers in this class are looking for. Namely, the raised ride height and toughened-up styling cues but with C-segment dimensions, which remain manageable compared with mid-size SUVs such as Kia’s own Sportage.
Shortly, we’ll assess whether the Xceed has character to match strong credentials on paper, but it’s also important to appreciate how important this model is for Kia’s European business. The Korean brand is still a growing force over here, with its own factory in Slovakia and a design centre in Frankfurt that better allows it to tap into the specific tastes of local markets.
Like so many rivals, however, in the coming years Kia will need to electrify its line-up with battery-electric and plug-in hybrid models, and at a time when buyers remain sceptical of the benefits such technologies can bring them.
In this respect, the Xceed is not only expected to bolster Kia’s bottom line by becoming one of the strongest sellers in the Ceed range. It is also hoped that a familiar-feeling plug-in hybrid version introduced later this year will expedite the take-up of battery-equipped models in the Kia range and help the brand hit brutally strict CO2 targets for 2020.
Of course, if the basic product isn’t up to snuff, an electrified version may prove academic.
The Kia Xceed range at a glance
The Xceed’s trim walk is easy enough to understand, starting at ‘2’ in the UK before moving up through ‘3’ and First Edition models. Standard equipment is very good even at the entry level, though our test car’s 1.4-litre engine only becomes available on 3 models. There are three engines to choose from: two petrols and one diesel. All of these units come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, though the 1.4-litre petrol can also be specified with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.