With its jacked-up ride height and more robust soft-roader aesthetic, any expectations of inherent sporting prowess aren’t quite as pointed in the Xceed as they might be in the Ceed or Proceed. Nevertheless, while the Xceed might not be as immediately engaging or quick to react as its siblings, there remains a reassuring sense of sure-footedness and handling security about its dynamic character that puts it in good stead as a trustworthy family hatch – if not as a particularly exciting one.
With 2.5 turns between locks, its medium-paced steering makes for a front end that’s responsive enough to inputs without feeling overly nervous or skittish, though the slightly contrived sense of weight common across the Ceed range still doesn’t quite represent a convincing substitute for genuine contact-patch feel. That said, the consistency of its gearing allows you to guide the Xceed’s nose through bends with plenty in the way of confidence and accuracy, though mid-corner bumps or uneven surfaces do result in a mild amount of jostling being transmitted back through the wheel.
As for front-end grip, the Xceed’s 235/45 section ContiSportContact 5 tyres provide good bite, though you don’t need to be driving particularly enthusiastically to approach the limit of their sticking power. That said, when that point arrives, the manner in which the Kia’s nose begins to push wide is predictably gentle, while a lift of the throttle quickly returns the Xceed to its correct line.
Body control is generally good, too, if not quite as closely marshalled as in the Ceed hatch. On faster, flowing roads, the Xceed feels fluid and stable, staying tidy over undulations and through gentler corners. However, the lateral weight transfer that accompanies quicker directional changes isn’t always quite as progressive or tidily controlled as you’d ideally like – though it’s still far from confidence-sapping.
In a similar vein to Mazda, though not quite to the same extent, Kia is building a reputation for developing cars that handle with a little more verve than the class average. The Xceed is a case in point, and while it is still no Ford Focus Active in its sense of flow, there is a neatness to its body movements on the Hill Route at Millbrook that’s underscored by good balance and accurate steering. In short, it is a surprisingly intuitive crossover to drive.