What Car? says...
With its seven-year warranty, the Kia Ceed Sportswagon is one family estate you'll be able to keep running for a while without the National Trust's help.
It's actually one of two estate cars from Kia's Ceed family you can buy. The Sportswagon is the more upright and traditional one, and is better for those who regularly pack a car up to the rafters with stuff. The Kia ProCeed has a more shapely coupé-like rear and sportier styling.
Back to the Sportswagon, then, and not only does it go head to head with the i30 Tourer from sister brand Hyundai, but also estate versions of almost every family car on sale. Those include the fine-handling Ford Focus, the simply massive Skoda Octavia and the classy Volkswagen Golf.
Kia gives you a decent range of engine options (although the plug-in hybrid is no longer available), from a tiny turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol to a fuel-sipping diesel. There’s also a brawnier 1.5-litre petrol for those who don’t cover the mileage to justify a diesel, but need something with a bit more punch.
So, does the Kia Ceed Sportswagon have what it takes to stand out? That’s what we’ll be exploring in this review as we dive into what it’s like to drive, how practical it is, how easy it is to load, what it’ll cost you and more.
We'll also let you know how it compares with its rivals in the estate car category we've mentioned, the Focus, i30 Tourer, Octavia and Golf. If the Sportswagon's sleeker sibling appeals to you, we have a full separate review of the Kia ProCeed.
When you've finished gathering all the facts and know which make and model is for you, we can help you find the best prices if you search the free What Car? New Car Buying service. It has a selection of the best Kia Ceed Sportswagon deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The cheapest petrol engine for the Kia Ceed Sportswagon is the 118bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder (1.0 T-GDi). It provides the sort of pace most buyers will find adequate (0-60mph takes 11.0sec), even on the motorway. Just bear in mind that it needs plenty of revs to get up to speed.
If you expect your Sportswagon to be heavily loaded up, the 158bhp turbocharged 1.5 T-GDi petrol is a much better bet. Aside from some initial hesitation at low revs, it’s effective once you’ve wound it up, getting from 0-60mph in 8.3sec. The downside is that you’ll need to opt for the top-spec 3 trim to get this engine, which pushes up the price.
The other engine option is a 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel. It comes with a touch of mild-hybrid assistance for a short burst of additional punch when setting off, but is only a second quicker than the 1.0-litre petrol from 0-60mph. Its extra low-end shove is worth considering if you tow a trailer or caravan, though.
Suspension and ride comfort
If comfort is your top priority, you might want to strike the Ceed Sportswagon from your list. It’s not that it will rattle your fillings out – in fact, it actually copes pretty well at lower speeds with patched-up urban streets and pesky speed bumps.
Unfortunately, though, it feels rather restless on a motorway compared with more compliant rivals. The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports and VW Golf Estate both take the sting out of urban obstacles and maintain their composure at higher speeds better than the Ceed Sportswagon.
Quick steering gives the Ceed Sportswagon a lively turn-in to corners, which gets you thinking it's a pretty well-sorted car. Up to a point, that's the case. When you push harder, you'll find the steering is nicely weighted, and although it doesn't have the sense of feel the Ford Focus Estate steering has, it's a confidence-inspiring car and easy enough to place accurately in bends.
While the Ceed flows nicely along a country road at seven-tenths pace, if you enter a corner fast, it leans a bit and isn't particularly well tied down at the rear. As a result, it has to rely quite heavily on its electronic safety aids, and making an emergency lane change can feel a tad alarming.
Noise and vibration
Wind noise is well controlled, but you have to put up with quite a bit of tyre roar at higher speeds, particularly from the rear of the car.
If you go for the 1.0 T-GDi engine, you’ll feel vibrations coming back through the pedals and steering wheel, whereas the 1.5 T-GDi petrol and 1.6 CRDi diesel are smoother and quieter, mainly because you don’t have to work them as hard.
Sadly, an unresponsive accelerator response at low revs means you have to concentrate to avoid jerky getaways, and the manual gearbox could be slicker compared with the delightful shift action in a Ford Focus estate. The optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is impressively smooth during normal driving, but it’s hesitant to change down when you floor the accelerator.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Every Kia Ceed Sportswagon has a good range of adjustment for the driver's seat and steering wheel, and they line up nicely with the pedals so you’re not forced to sit crooked. If you upgrade to mid-level 3 trim, you’ll also get electrically adjustable lumbar support to help fend off backache on long drives.
These days, more and more cars (the Skoda Octavia Estate and VW Golf Estate included) have all the main functions on touchscreens. The Sportswagon is one of the exceptions, with separate buttons and knobs for its air conditioning, an approach we prefer because it makes it much easier to tweak the settings on the move.
The analogue dials are clear, and are complemented by a digital screen operated from the steering wheel buttons.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The Sportswagon's relatively thin windscreen pillars ensure it’s easy to see out at junctions, but over-the-shoulder visibility is quite restricted, so you’ll be grateful that a rear-view camera is fitted as standard to help with reversing.
All models get electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, a front wiper de-icer and automatic lights. The 3 trim includes rear parking sensors, but front parking sensors aren’t available, even as an option.
One disappointment is that you can only get halogen headlights, which aren’t that great by modern standards. Rivals including the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports have much brighter LED ones on every version.
Sat nav and infotainment
Entry-level 2 trim features an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system with a DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring (so you can use your phone's apps on the screen). You’ll need to upgrade to 2 Nav trim level or above for built-in sat-nav and a larger 10.3in screen.
The bigger screen is as good as most systems in the estate car class. It's mounted nice and high, the graphics are clear and the menus are simple and responsive, unlike the somewhat buggy systems we’ve encountered in the latest Octavia and Golf estates. The 8.0 and 10.3in displays each have a row of shortcut buttons to let you quickly switch between different menus. The smaller system has physical shortcut buttons, while the larger one has a row of touch-sensitive controls.
All versions come with a fine six-speaker stereo, although we did notice that the Bluetooth phone connection tends to have an echo audible to the person calling you.
The interior looks rather drab, particularly if you go for entry-level 2 spec, which misses out on the chrome and piano black trims that are standard higher up the range.
It’s hard to fault the standard of assembly, though, because everything feels well screwed together. The Ceed Sportswagon has nicely-damped controls and plenty of squishy plastics, and feels classier than the Ford Focus Estate and Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
You’ll have enough space in the front of the Kia Ceed Sportswagon. The driver’s seat drops low enough to give you ample head room, and there's plenty of leg room available, too.
The front door bins are a reasonable size, plus it has a couple of cupholders and some useful cubbies for wallets and phones, including a decent-sized one below the standard front armrest. If you get a 3 trim model with an automatic gearbox, the armrest slides so you can adjust it for comfort.
There's enough head room for a couple of six-footers in the rear of the car. Leg room is tighter than in some rivals, though, including the Ford Focus Estate, Skoda Octavia Estate and Toyota Corolla Touring Sports.
More positively, the rear bench seat itself is well shaped, while a near-flat floor makes life comfier for someone sitting in the middle than in many of its rivals, which often have big humps to straddle.
Access to the rear is good, with wide door openings, but rear storage is limited to small door bins and pockets on the backs of the front seats. All trims get a rear armrest, which has cup holders integrated if you opt for the higher trims.
Seat folding and flexibility
The rear seatbacks in the Ceed Sportswagon fold pretty much flat, but only top 3 trim has a 40/20/40-split arrangement. All the other trims comes with a less versatile 60/40 set-up.
Upgrading to 3 trim also adds a remote folding function that lets you release the seats from the boot instead of having to walk round to the side of the car.
The luggage capacities might give you the impression that the Ceed Sportswagon (625 litres) is not much more practical than Kia’s slinky-looking Proceed (594 litres). In reality, the Sportswagon's higher roofline and larger opening makes it easier to load it up to the roof. It's nowhere near as big as the Octavia Estate's boot, though.
You get loads of useful under-floor storage and there’s no tailgate lip to heave luggage over. One slight quirk is that diesel models have a marginally higher boot floor to house all the mild-hybrid gubbins, meaning they have slightly less cargo capacity than petrol models.
Accessibility & Motability
Usability for people with disability or their carers
Motability - Access
That makes it a great Motability choice, and it has several features that should be helpful if your mobility is restricted.
The door aperture is a good height and width for a start, so getting in and out is made that bit easier. On top of that, the doors open to a wide 66 degrees so they shouldn’t be in the way. The handles to pull the door shut are near the front of the door, putting them within reach even when it’s fully open.
Life is made easier by door sills that have a top edge just 360mm from the road, so you won’t feel like you’re having to perform a fitness manoeuvre every time you lift your legs into the vehicle.
The floor of the car is a mere 89mm below the level of the sills, which pays dividends when you’re getting out of the car.
Motability - Storage
This is where the Ceed Sportswagon has a distinct advantage over the Proceed, because it’s a proper estate car that’s much more practical for day-to-day life.
While the Proceed has a sloping rear end, the Sportswagon’s tailgate is more upright and covers an opening that’s bigger and more usable. The Proceed requires you to fold down your wheelchair before loading it into the boot, but the Ceed Sportswagon makes no such demands. You can leave the wheelchair fully assembled, and there’s no need to fold down the rear seats to accommodate it.
There’s also a ‘false’ boot floor with space below it to store expensive items out of sight, and there’s no boot lip to speak of, which makes sliding heavy items in and out of the load area much easier.
Motability - Ease of use and options
If you need an automatic gearbox, there are a few engine choices for the Ceed Sportswagon.
The 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol will be ideal for mainly short journeys. If you regularly do longer trips, the 1.6-litre diesel is a strong and economical companion, although it can sound rather out of breath at times.
A third option is the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model, which combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. It can officially do around 30 miles on battery power alone, and could prove very cheap to run if you plug it in whenever possible (every time you stop, ideally).
All Ceed Sportswagons have lane-keep assist, automatic full beam headlights and a reversing camera. Parking sensors are only available from 3 trim upwards, and the self-parking system is available as standard only on GT and GT-Line S models. You can pay extra for a forward collision avoidance system that will detect cyclists.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
Kia is no longer the budget brand it once was, so Ceed Sportswagon pricing is competitive rather than ultra-cheap compared with rivals such as the Ford Focus Estate and Skoda Octavia Estate. The good news is that significant discounts tend to be available – check out our free What Car? New Car Deals pages for the latest offers.
One area where Kia has become more competitive recently is in its finance deals, with very reasonable monthly payments if you lease or take out a PCP agreement. Resale values aren’t likely to be as good as those of the Focus Estate, Seat Leon or VW Golf though, so the Ceed Sportswagon could end up costing you more in the long run.
The Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid produces much less CO2 than the Sportswagon 1.0 T-GDi, but the diesel version of the Sportswagon is right on the money in terms of its average fuel economy and company car tax, compared with other diesels. If maximising your miles per gallon on short journeys is important to you, you’d be better off looking at the hybrid-powered Toyota Corolla Touring Sports.
Equipment, options and extras
No Ceed Sportswagon is poorly equipped, so we can heartily recommend even the entry-level 2 trim. With it you get automatic headlights, air conditioning, cruise control, 16in alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and all-round electric windows. Pay a bit more for 2 Nav trim, and you get the bigger infotainment screen with built-in sat-nav.
We can understand you being tempted to upgrade to 3 trim, which not only gives you more choice of engines, but also brings greater seating flexibility and a better infotainment system, as well as dual-zone climate control, 17in alloys, faux-leather trim inserts, power-folding door mirrors, privacy glass, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and automatic wipers.
With the exception of metallic paint, Kia doesn’t really do options, which keeps things simple but can mean an expensive upgrade if there’s a specific item that you want.
Kia has a fine reliability record, finishing ninth out of the 30 manufacturers featured in the 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey – above all the makers of the Ceed’s main rivals apart from Toyota.
Even if you do have a problem, the fantastic seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty is the longest currently available on a new car.
Safety and security
The Ceed Sportswagon appears quite promising for safety when you look at the equipment all trims receive – automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance, high beam assist and a driver attention monitor. The 3 version gets an upgraded AEB system, which includes pedestrian and cyclist detection, although that's also standard on most of the Sportswagon's rivals.
Euro NCAP found some issues when it tested the Ceed for safety, though. It warned of the driver’s head making contact with the steering wheel in a frontal collision and poor protection for the front passenger's chest in the side-on crash test with a pole. As a result, it gets four stars out of five, which is very rare in this class and suggests that the Sportswagon is less safe than many other estate cars.
On top of that, security experts Thatcham found the Ceed to be relatively easy to break into and steal, despite having a standard alarm and immobiliser.
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|RRP price range||£23,265 - £26,810|
|Number of trims (see all)||2|
|Number of engines (see all)||1|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||48.7 - 50.4|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||7 years / 100000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£1,334 / £1,590|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£2,668 / £3,180|