It’s always quite interesting when a car manufacturer lets motoring journalists loose on the cheapest model in the range, as it shows confidence in the product, without the added glitz and glamour of a car loaded with enticing extras to cloud judgements. At the UK launch of the third-generation Ceed, that is exactly what Kia did, handing us the keys to the entry-level model in the diesel lineup, in level 2 trim, and with the brand-new 114bhp 1.6-litre CRDi engine. It’s the most basic version available for now, though a level 1 specification car is under consideration, should customers demand it.
FIRST UK TEST 2019 KIA CEED
Even though the length of the Ceed remains identical to its predecessor at 4,310mm, its proportions have changed, with a shorter overhang at the front and an extension to the rear. It’s also lower and wider, with extra space in the passenger compartment. Boot space is enhanced, too, with 395 litres of cargo capacity with the seats up and 1,291 litres with them folded down. The sill is impressively low, too, making it easy to haul heavy items into the boot. The cabin of the Ceed follows recent Kia design trends, with a carefully planned layout that arranges the buttons and controls in a series of rows, all clearly labelled. The dashboard top has been designed to look like it has been stitched together, and all the materials used are pleasantly tactile and squidgy. The appearance eschews fussiness in favour of clarity, which means that you spend less time with your eyes off the road. The floating touchscreen is positioned perfectly, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto fitted as standard on all models. Rather handily, the USB and auxiliary ports are located ahead of the gear lever, with a handy cubby hole to place your smartphone. The white on black dials are pleasingly clear, and it is straight forward to get a comfortable driving position, thanks to plenty of adjustment to the chairs and steering wheel. The seats have nice cushioning and deliver sufficient support when cornering. Headroom is outstanding both front and rear, and leg space is decent, too. All-round visibility is generally alright, though the three-quarter vision is affected by a sizeable pillar. Commendably, Kia has realised this limitation and a reversing camera is fitted to every model in the new Ceed range. Space for oddments is generously provided for, with a large area in front of the gear lever, a good sized glovebox, deep storage underneath the armrest and door pockets that can accommodate drinks bottles, with space for more.
The 1.6-litre CRDi engine is brand new and features selective catalytic reduction, utilising AdBlue, to meet the latest Euro-6d Temp emissions regulations. It’s the cleanest diesel engine that Kia has ever produced and goes by the codename ‘U3’. It’s seriously refined, is quiet as a church mouse and contributes enormously to the laid back, relaxed manner of the latest Ceed. The smooth gearchange helps with this impression and is linked with a nicely balanced clutch. It’s punchy off the line, with effortless performance and generous mid-range torque. The start-stop system operates efficiently, cutting the power smoothly, and restarting without any sign of vibration. Steering feel is responsive and well-weighted, with handling that is fluid and body lean that is neatly controlled. The Ceed feels agile through a series of bends, and while it isn’t quite up to Focus standards, the steering is more engaging and as a result is fun to drive. Grip levels are high, and the suspension soaks up bumps well, and is especially comfortable on a motorway cruise at around 70mph.
You’ll notice that the Ceed has lost its annoying apostrophe, and that’s because Kia has realised that it doesn’t need any gimmicks to the sell the car this time. The seven-year warranty is still one of the major selling points for buying a new Kia, and that’s backed up by equipment levels that are incredibly generous. All level 2 models, like our test car, come with 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, front fog lights, air conditioning, cruise control, electric windows all round, DAB radio, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility, reversing camera, lane keeping assistant, driver drowsiness detection and autonomous emergency braking. The five-door hatchback versions of the Ceed are in showrooms now, with the Sportswagon estate set to arrive in the next few weeks. Following this, a Shooting Brake edition that wears the Proceed moniker will make its debut at the Paris motor show, alongside sporty GT and GT-Line editions. Kia also promises one more surprise variant that the company is remaining tightlipped about, but if we were betting people, we would lay odds on it being revealed for the first time at the Geneva motor show next March.
On sale Now
In showrooms Now
Prices £19,095 to £23,055
Body-styles 5-door hatchback
Engines 1.6 (114bhp)
Trim levels 2, 3
Also consider Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra
Model tested 2 1.6 CRDi
Built in Zilina, Slovakia
Bodystyle 5-door hatchback, 5-seats
Powerplant 1,598cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbo diesel
Transmission 6-speed manual
Max power 114bhp @ 4,000rpm
Max torque 207lb ft @ 1,500-2,750rpm
Top speed 118mph
CO2 emissions 99g/km (Euro-6d Temp)
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 67.3/78.5/74.3mpg
Fuel tank size 50 litres
Range 817 miles
Insurance group 20
BIK rate 24%
Size (length/width without mirrors) 4,310/1,800mm
Boot space (min/max) 395/1,291 litres
Kerb/max towing weight 1,388/1,200kg
Euro NCAP crash rating Not yet tested
Verdict It’s lost the silly apostrophe and the car has been enhanced to a level where it stands scrutiny alongside the new Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. Yes, it’s that good!
Drive-My EN/UK rating 4/5