20.12.2018Kia Ceed 1.4 T-GDi review
Now in its third generation, the Kia Ceed seems more grown up than ever, dropping the apostrophe from its badge and squarely tackling its main European rivals. With strong foundations on which to build, Kia has looked to improve every aspect of its family hatch, though with a focus on evolution rather than revolution. NGC tests Kia's Ceed in 1.4 T-GDi form.
Review by Chris Lilly
A range of petrol and diesel engines is available for Ceed buyers, though it's the 1.4 T-GDi petrol that we've got our hands on here. It is expected to prove a popular choice, particularly with diesel's demise in the sales charts, and also happens to be the most powerful on offer for now. It's available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, but we've got the standard six-speed manual. It's not the sharpest gear change around, with some rivals offering a more engaging shift, but it does the job well, and it's easy enough to keep the engine on song. That 1.4 T-GDi engine is excellent though, with good power and torque levels on offer, jotted down as 138 hp and 242 Nm respectively. It's a refined choice, and one that quietens down at a cruise to offer a relaxing drive. Like the gearbox, it's not going to get the pulse racing in most situations, but the 1.4 T-GDi is a good all-rounder; well suited to work both in town and on the open road. A 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds corresponds with this feeling, and the Ceed will get to 130mph in this guise.
The handling complements the Ceed's performance potential, and instead of foolishly making the suspension stiff to chase down keen drivers, the Kia is a comfortable machine, ironing out road imperfections well. As a commuting car, it works brilliantly, and the set-up translates well to long-distance motorway trips too. The refinement is very good, and Kia's engineers have done a fine job with tailoring the handling to match. There's a bit of weight to the steering, but it keeps feedback through the wheel to a minimum. As such, the Ceed isn't going to be the best B-road blast you're ever going to drive, though that said, it does a decent job at offering a bit of fun when the mood takes. There is plenty of grip available from the front tyres, and the steering is precise enough to give you confidence as to where the Ceed is placed on the road. This precision helps mainly in town, with the Kia easy to thread through tight spots, but one benefit is that it performs well on faster roads too.
By shifting into a more European style, the Ceed could be accused of becoming more boring in design. I disagree, and think that although hardly an eye-catching piece of design, the Ceed is a good looking hatchback. Like the handling, it's focus is on refinement and restraint, rather than featuring the edgy surface details of some rivals, such as the Honda Civic. In practical terms, the new design has freed up more space in the cabin. Rear seat occupants are well catered for, with good levels of head, leg, and shoulder room for four adults in the back - even tall ones. Five would likely be a squash, but that's the case across the sector, and kids will have oodles of room. Boot space is in a similar vein, with more than enough load area available for day-to-day requirements. It should fit a family's worth of holiday kit in there too, proving the Ceed is a practical hatch.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The cabin might be spacious, but it's not particularly exciting. The model tested had a few splashes of black gloss plastic to liven the dashboard up, but it was rather a dark affair, and not the most stylish around. There is a good touchscreen sitting atop the centre console, which works well and is intuitive to use. There are rather a lot of buttons beneath it though which, although preferring a physical control to a digital one, doesn't help the interior in terms of neatness of design. The driver has a good time of it however, with a nicely sized steering wheel, and a set of instruments that both look good and are positioned deep into the instrument binnacle. The materials used throughout are of a high quality, and they feel nice to the touch. Again, it's refinement over flamboyance, which has perhaps been pitched a little too far towards the former, but at least we know Kia is serious about the Ceed proving successful.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Kia quotes a fuel economy figure of 45.6 MPG for this engine and trim combination, though that is improved to 46.3 MPG in a different specification. Considering I managed to achieve an average of 41 MPG at the end of my time with the Ceed, that sounds perfectly achievable, considering the test mixed up a range of routes and driving styles. It's not going to challenge the mid-70's score available from one of the diesels, but a comfortable 40+ MPG in the petrol is going to prove perfectly reasonable for most drivers. On top of that, thanks to the more powerful nature of the engine, I suspect that it would be easier for drivers of the 1.4 T-GDi to get close to the official figures than the 1.0 T-GDi for example. The Ceed never felt as though it was really straining with the larger engine, and the more compact unit - excellent though it is as I've found out in other Kia products - could struggle occasionally when under greater load. To tax, the Ceed's CO2 emissions of 132 g/km mean it will cost £205 for the first year rate - included in the car's OTR - and then the Standard Rate of £140, since it costs less than the £40,000 Premium Rate threshold.
There is an Eco pack available on the entry level petrol and diesel models, which includes an active air flap behind the grille, smoothing out airflow depending on the engine's cooling needs. It also features an underbody cover and lower suspension, further improving aerodynamics, and it sits on low-rolling resistance tyres. Kia offers a Drive Mode Select system on the Ceed, which allows the driver to maximise fuel efficiency, or focus on a more responsive drive. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 23.
The Kia Ceed starts off well equipped and improves further from there. Entry level 2 trim features elements such as 16-inch alloys, automatic and cornering headlights, wiper de-icer, leather trimmed steering wheel and gear stick, air conditioning, cruise control, 7-inch touchscreen with DAB, USB, and Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, and reversing camera. The First Edition model tested adds the likes of 17-inch alloys, rear privacy glass, sunroof, automatic wipers, leather seats, electric and ventilated front seats, heated seats front and rear, heated steering wheel, auto-dimming rear view mirror, keyless entry and start, wireless mobile phone charger, 8-speaker JBL stereo, 8-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, and smart park assist with front and rear parking sensors. Kia has also packed a huge amount of active safety kit into the Ceed.
The Ceed aims to be taken seriously in a fiercely competitive market, and it certainly should be. It's a very good hatchback, and although it doesn't excel in any particular area, it performs well across the board. It's spacious, practical, comfortable, and well equipped, with the 1.4 T-GDi petrol engine a fine balance between performance and economy.
Model tested: Kia Ceed 1.4 T-GDi First Edition
Body-style: Family hatchback
Engine / CO2: 1.4 litre turbo petrol / 132 g/km
Trim grades: 2, 3, Blue Edition, First Edition, GT-Line, GT-Line S, GT
On-road price: Range from £18,545. Model as tested from £25,750
Warranty: Seven years / 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars