The Xceed’s 1.4-litre T-GDi engine seems to major more on refinement and civility than any outright performance ability or charm. In low-stress environments, the motor is impressively demure, picking up from low revs and getting the car moving with little more than a barely audible four-cylinder drone. A useful spread of torque through the low and mid range is there to ensure progress is smooth and reasonably swift, while throttle response is suitably keen too. However, stray from this preferred means of operation and the powertrain’s shortcomings begin to present themselves.
Chiefly, this is not an engine that enjoys being revved out – venture past 4500rpm and it runs out of puff at a fairly severe rate. Even so, on full-throttle acceleration runs, the dual-clutch transmission seems hesitant to change up, instead preferring to allow the tachometer to spin up to near the redline before selecting the next gear. This prolongs those instances of breathlessness, and the nasal, droning noise the four-pot motor makes at these operating speeds isn’t particularly endearing either.
The transmission reveals itself as something of a ponderous weak link during overtakes too. Put your foot down and it will change down in a reasonably snappy fashion, but it often seems to need to rifle through a few ratios before making a decision and allowing you to accelerate in earnest.
Speaking of which, with our timing gear rigged up, the Xceed managed to accelerate from 30-70mph (our indicator of real-world performance) in 8.7sec, and from 0-60mph in 9.3sec on a damp track. While the 0-60mph time is in step with Kia’s 9.2sec claim, the 30-70mph time highlights something of a performance deficiency next to its more conventional hatchback rivals. The marginally more powerful Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI Evo we road tested in 2017 (an engine also available in the Volkswagen T-Roc) covered the same increment in 8.1sec, while the run from 0-60mph was half a second quicker than that of the Kia. Finally, a brake pedal that doesn’t always feel entirely consistent in its response comes as another – albeit minor – cause of frustration.
It can feel vague and poorly defined before all of a sudden becoming a touch too grabby – though this is more of an issue at low speed than on the open road.