It’s not often a new car surprises you, but Kia’s slogan is “the power to surprise” and the Korean brand has astonished us twice recently; first with the Stinger and now with the new third-generation Ceed.
Kia has set its sights high for the new model and expects it to compete directly with the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf as a credible European hatch.
In short, they’ve managed it.
From the outside, the car is sportier; it features sharper lines and shorter overhangs.
Inside, the cabin quality is up there with the best and there is no shortage of ‘toys’, either.
An eight-inch touchscreen provides infotainment, smartphone connectivity and sat-nav. There is also a high-power JBL stereo, automatic LED headlights and keyless entry available.
Around 75% of Ceeds are sold to fleets and Kia expects this mix to continue with the new model.
Power comes from a suite of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines.
There is a plucky 120PS 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol unit with CO2 emissions from 122g/km, and a more potent 1.4-litre with 140PS and emissions from 125g/km. Diesel models consist of a 115PS or 136PS version of the same 1.6-litre unit. Emissions range from 99g/km to 111g/km. All figures are NEDC-correlated.
Kia expects the 1.4-litre petrol to be the best seller.
We tested all but the least powerful diesel, as it wasn’t available at the launch event.
The 1.4 offers excellent performance and delivers it in a smooth and relaxing way. The 1.0 requires the driver to work it harder and feels a little lacking in grunt at motorway speeds. We found minimal difference in fuel economy during our testing.
The diesel is the best all-rounder; it can reach 62mph from rest in around 10 seconds (136PS) and promises upwards of 70mpg. Refinement is strong, too, with minimal noise intrusion.
At launch, the more powerful diesel won't be available in the UK. A mild-hybrid diesel will launch next year with even lower emissions and better performance.
At motorway speeds, with any powertrain, the Ceed is civilised and covers miles with little effort.
But, the area where Kia’s engineers have made the biggest difference is handling.
The new Ceed’s steering and suspension set-up is significantly better. In fact, it is among the best in its class for driveability.
There is little impact on ride comfort, despite the stiffer set-up and, overall, the Ceed is a car that now has real driver appeal.
Kia hasn’t forgotten about safety either. Standard equipment includes lane-keep assist and autonomous emergency braking, plus seven airbags.
Optionally available is adaptive cruise control and Lane Follow Assist, which, combined, give Level 2 autonomy.
Automatic models, which use an excellent seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, also benefit from a Stop and Go system which take care of the brakes and accelerator in traffic jams.
To finish off the package, the boot is now larger at 395 litres and prices will start at £18,295.
Specifications shown for: Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi 114 2