Good enough to suc-Ceed? Kia Ceed 2018 First Drive

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Remember the first Kia Cee’d, the one that was used as Top Gear’s reasonably priced car? It was a car that wasn’t exactly a looker, and it was bought mostly because it was cheaper than the likes of the Ford Focus or the Volkswagen Golf. The third generation is here, and it really looks the business; it’s got sharper looks, new engines and new tech. Oh, it’s also dropped the silly apostrophe as well. Is it good enough to suc-Ceed though? Let’s find out.

Positive first impressions

My time with the Ceed was short, but it didn’t take long to get a positive first impression from Kia’s latest model offering. From the outside I think it looks great, especially in the optional ‘Blue Flame’ paintwork applied to this model. The inside isn’t quite as attractive, as it feels a little bit plain, but at least it’s finished well. Kia has aimed to make the new Ceed more ergonomic, and although there are quite a few buttons – noticeably more than the new Focus – it feels well laid out and easy to use.

The inside is a bit plain, but it’s finished well enough, and thankfully the buttons are logically laid out.

The model tested here is the First Edition, which starts from £25,750, and features plenty of kit. Highlights include 17″ alloys, 8″ touchscreen with DAB radio, Bluetooth, smartphone connectivity and navigation, as well as 8 speaker JBL sound system, heated front and outer rear seats, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, LED headlights, electronically adjustable drivers seats, as well as a healthy amount of safety kit.

Kia Ceed 2018
It’s certainly a handsome thing

£25,750, for a Kia?

Some of you reading this may think that’s a fair bit of money to fork out for a Kia, but the Korean brand has come a long way from its humble beginnings. The quality has improved significantly in recent years, meaning the three-lettered badge is now worthy to challenge the likes of Ford and Volkswagen. However, as much as the First Edition has a lot of kit, it’s not likely to be the most cost effective model for buyers.

At present (Kia likes to change up its range from time-to-time), the Ceed is available in four trim levels; 2, 3, Blue Edition and First Edition. The 2 starts from £18,295 and is able to offer 16″ alloy wheels, autonomous emergency braking, air conditioning, 7″ touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth, smartphone connectivity, cruise control with speed limiter, reversing camera and front fog lights.

Kia Ceed 2018

Next up, you’ve got 3, which starts from £20,705, adding features such as 17″ alloys, dual zone climate control, 8″ touchscreen, navigation, privacy glass, automatic wipers and dimming rear view mirror. The Blue Edition starts from £21,095, offering a mixture of features from the 2 and 3, as well as LED headlights, Blue Flame paintwork, and black cloth seats with faux leather bolsters.

Comfy and competent

The new Ceed has a new rear independent suspension setup to offer better comfort, and it works very well. Even though this car is on big alloys, the ride is smooth and the damping is brilliant. The first few turns of the wheels reveal a car that feels grown up, and premium. This particular model has got the new 1.4 litre turbocharged petrol, which replaces the old 1.6 litre engine and is 4% more powerful. Hey, it all counts.

Just in case you don’t fancy this engine, you can also choose from a naturally aspirated 1.4 litre petrol, a turbocharged 1.0 litre petrol, or a 1.6 litre turbocharged diesel. The diesel will be the one to go if you want the best fuel economy, as that offers 74.3mpg, whereas the 1.4 litre used here offers 50.4mpg. This engine emits 127g/km of CO2 emissions, whereas the diesel emits 99/km, meaning you’ll pay respective VED first year rates of £165 and £146.

Kia Ceed 2018

This engine is mated to a 7-speed DCT gearbox (6-speed manual is also available) which works in the background with very little bother. There are no flappy paddles in place, but you can change gears yourself if you so wish by pushing and pulling the gear selector. No matter which method you choose, you’ll find the changes are smooth and quick, adding to the pleasurable driving sensation. The DCT also offers a Sport mode to increase responsiveness, which helps to give the CEED an  added edge of excitement.

Kia Ceed 2018

As a tool for cornering, you could definitely do worse than the Ceed as it offers a good amount of handling. Yes, there is a bit of body roll to contend with, but it’s not major, plus you have the GT model to look at if you want a more focused drive. However, even the standard car is 20mm lower and 23mm wider than the last model, so it already has a sportier element to it.

The grip in the corners is impressive and the steering weight is satisfying in sport mode, although I found it to feel a little too light in its normal setting. The steering is direct and responsive, plus the feedback isn’t too bad either. As a whole, the handling is impressive, but I still feel the new Focus has the edge on it, particularly as it feels more fun . However, the Ceed isn’t a million miles behind.

What about the practical, family stuff?

The Kia Ceed should be well suited as a family car as it offers a good amount of practicality and a high level of safety. Thanks to the Ceed’s new K2 platform, the boot is bigger than before, offering 395 litres. That’s more than the current VW Golf and also more than the latest Ford Focus as well. Space in the back isn’t too bad either; for a driver’s seat set for my height (I’m 6’2″) I had a decent amount of legroom in the rear. However, headroom isn’t overly generous, but it should be enough for taller passengers like me.

Kia Ceed 2018

Space in the front is absolutely fine, and thanks to an electronically adjustable driver’s seat, getting a good driving position is a doddle. The seating position is also quite low for the Ceed, which helps to give more of a coupe feeling to proceedings. There’s also a decent amount of cubbyholes in the cabin, so you’ll unlikely to find any serious issues with interior stowage.

Not only is it practical, but it’s safe too, thanks to a good amount of standard kit. Even the base model receives features such as autonomous emergency braking, hill start assist, driver attention warning, 6 airbags, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist – a new feature for the Ceed. The new model is yet to be crash tested by Euro NCAP, but it goes without saying that Kia will be aiming for 5 stars, particularly as that’s the same score achieved by its predecessors.

Final thoughts

The new Kia Ceed makes for a compelling choice as it has a fair amount to offer. It’s practical, competent to drive, comfortable, safe, and it offers a good amount of kit. There may still be some badge snobbery around Kia, but if you on the market for a medium-sized hatchback, I’d urge to have a look at the Ceed. Also, don’t forget, it comes with that attractive 7 year warranty as well.

Kia Ceed 2018

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