What Car? says...
It’s fair to say that anyone looking for a family car is somewhat spoilt for choice these days – so how does the Kia Ceed stand out?
Well, for starters it comes with an industry-leading seven-year warranty, along with pretty competitive pricing and a decent equipment list, especially as you move up the range. So, if you’re looking for something sensible, the Ceed seems to tick a lot of boxes on paper already.
If the promise of a long warranty and reasonable pricing doesn’t quite set your heart alight, there's more. The current Ceed is available with a line-up of engines that includes a frugal 1.0-litre petrol and a diesel with mild-hybrid technology.
Kia offers you a choice of body types, too. If you’re looking for more practicality, there’s the Kia Ceed Sportswagon estate version, or if it’s all about style for you, there’s the swoopy and svelte Kia ProCeed (also an estate). There’s even an off-road aesthetic available with the slightly jacked-up Kia XCeed.
Here, though, we’re focusing on the hatchback version. The Ceed already sounds like a worthy contender, but it’s got some strong foes to see off in the family car class.
So does the Kia Ceed have the talents to triumph over more established rivals, including the Ford Focus, Seat Leon and Vauxhall Astra? That’s something we’ll investigate over the next few pages of this review. We’ll also tell you which engines and trims are the ones to go for.
Remember, if you are thinking of buying a Ceed, or any new vehicle, we can help you make big savings on the brochure price with the free What Car? New Car Deals pages, where you could save hundreds of pounds with one of the tempting new family car deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Three petrols and a diesel make up the Kia Ceed engine line-up. The cheapest petrol engine, the 118bhp turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0 T-GDi, provides performance that most buyers will find quite adequate (0-60mph takes 11.2sec), and is our pick of the range. Similar 1.0-litre turbocharged engines in rivals have more low-down shove, though – you need to rev the Ceed harder to get the best out of it.
If you want more poke, there’s a 158bhp turbocharged 1.5 T-GDi petrol which covers 0-60mph more than two seconds quicker than the 1.0 T-GDi, although the 1.5 can still suffer with some initial hesitation at low revs, and you still need to thrash the Ceed for a quick burst of pace. However, it is reasonably punchy once you’ve wound it up.
There’s one choice of diesel power in the shape of the 134bhp 1.6 CRDi, which pulls eagerly and offers flexible performance. Apart from the entry-level 1.0 T-GDi, it's the slowest choice in the range and is only really for those who do big miles and want to benefit from the decent fuel economy.
Suspension and ride comfort
As with the Seat Leon, the Ceed isn’t overly firm, and maintains its composure over larger obstacles, such as speed bumps, but it fails to be quite so absorbent as the Scala or Golf over rough town roads or pockmarked A-roads. It’s not stupefyingly crashy, though, and upgrading from 16in to 17in wheels doesn’t make the ride noticeably worse, as can be the case with some of its rivals.
The Kia Ceed’s relatively quick steering gives it a good cornering turn-in so initially it seems to have pretty tidy handling.
When you push it harder, though, you discover that the steering doesn't feel anywhere near as rich as in a Ford Focus, or as progressively weighted as that of the Golf and Skoda Octavia. The upshot is that you feel less confident about placing the Ceed accurately in bends.
While the Ceed feels generally nimble and flows nicely along a country road at seven-tenths pace, in fast cornering it doesn't feel particularly grippy at the rear.
Noise and vibration
We certainly wouldn’t call the Kia Ceed noisy, but it's not as refined as the likes of the Golf and Focus. The 1.0 T-GDi petrol engine sends a fair few vibrations through the controls and, like the larger 1.5, sounds a little coarse when revved. The 1.6 CRDi diesel, meanwhile, is downright clattery like oil-burners of old.
The Ceed's slightly notchy manual gearbox isn't as slick as the Focus's but it’s precise and easy to use otherwise. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is available but we’d stick with the manual to keep the price down.
At motorway speeds, the Ceed burdens you with quite a bit of road roar, although it suffers from slightly less wind noise than the Skoda Octavia and its suspension is quieter over bumps.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Entry-level Ceeds have a good range of adjustment for the driver's seat and steering wheel, while the pedals are nicely in line with the seat and steering wheel, so you don’t sit in a crooked position. If you upgrade to 3 trim, you’ll get electrically adjustable lumbar support to fend off backache.
As more and more features are crammed into the touchscreens of modern cars, it’s refreshing to see that the Ceed gets big, clearly marked buttons that are easy to reach, along with good old-fashioned knobs for the air-conditioning system.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Forward visibility is pretty good, with relatively thin windscreen pillars making it easy to see out of junctions. The view through the back is less impressive, especially over the shoulder. That's down to the small rear screen and thick pillars behind the rear doors blocking your view. It's much the same in many of the Ceed's rivals, though, and at least all variants get a reversing camera as standard to make life that bit easier.
All versions have heated door mirrors, a front wiper de-icer and automatic lights as standard. If you upgrade to 3 trim, you'll get automatic wipers and rear parking sensors thrown in.
Sat nav and infotainment
In entry-level 2 trim, the Kia Ceed comes with a 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system that features DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring. If you don’t want to use your phone's navigation app, you can choose 2 Nav trim to get in-built sat-nav as well as the larger 10.25in touchscreen which all models above the 2 get.
While some people might not like the screen's floating look, which makes it look like a tablet computer that's been glued to the top of the dash, it does save you from having to look down to use it. The system is responsive in both screen sizes, with menus that are reasonably logically laid out.
It's not perfect, though. For example, there's not physical shortcut button to take you straight to the phone menu, and some icons are too small to hit easily on the move. It's a marked improvement over the infotainment in the VW Golf but the Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia have higher-definition screens with clearer graphics.
Entry-level 2 models miss out on the piano-black trim that’s standard higher up the range and adds visual appeal to the Ceed’s interior, which otherwise looks a little dull compared with rivals such as the Mazda 3. It’s well screwed together, though, and offers plenty of tactile squishy plastic, along with well-damped controls.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Even tall people will be able to get comfortable in the front of the Ceed, thanks to seats that go back a long way, good head room and plenty of room in the footwell.
Elsewhere, the door bins are a reasonable size, plus there’s storage under the front armrest, a couple of cupholders and useful cubbies for wallets and phones.
The rear bench is well shaped and comfortable, and the floor is almost flat (there’s a very small central floor tunnel), making life sweeter for someone in the middle seat than in most rivals. Rear storage is limited with small door bins, but access to the back is good because of the decent-sized door openings.
Seat folding and flexibility
The Ceed has 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks as standard (the 3 trim Kia Ceed Sportswagon gets the more practical 40/20/40 seats) but that’s about it. If you’re hoping for a sliding and reclining rear bench or a fold-flat passenger seat – which some versions of the Octavia get to help you load really long items – you won’t find them here.
Front passenger seat height adjustment is standard on all models except entry-level 2 trim. Passenger lumbar adjustment is added on 3 trim and above, but only the driver gets electric seat movement.
The Kia Ceed's boot has a reasonably low loading lip, is impressively deep and is a usefully uniform shape. It offers 395 litres of space (a little more than you'll find in the VW Golf and Ford Focus), which is enough for five carry-on suitcases under the parcel shelf. That's good, but no match for Skoda's Octavia and Scala – they can swallow 11 and seven cases respectively.
The Ceed comes with a useful height-adjustable boot floor as standard on all models. With the rear seats folded, you get a smooth and mostly flat extended load bay right up to the back of its front seats.
Accessibility & Motability
Usability for people with disability or their carers
Motability - Access
The Kia Ceed’s front doors open to 66 degrees, revealing an aperture that’s nearly 870mm wide. The sills on each side of the car are 358mm above the ground, and the distance from the top of the seat base to the ground is 608mm when it’s set to the highest position.
Those are strong figures – a Ford Focus, for example, is fractionally harder to access because its doors don’t open quite as wide and its door aperture is 40mm narrower.
Motability - Storage
The 395-litre boot (a little more than you'll find in the Focus and VW Golf) is almost uniform in shape but there’s a 115mm lip that you’ll have to lift heavy items over. The vertical height of the boot opening is 745mm and the distance from the top of the sill to the ground is 660mm.
The second row of seats can drop down to free up extra storage space, but even when the seats are in place there’s enough room to accommodate a collapsed wheelchair.
The rear seat bench doesn’t fold completely flat, but when the adjustable floor is in its uppermost position there isn’t any gap or sill to make the job of loading the boot more difficult than it needs to be. There are handy storage hooks in the luggage compartment to secure loose items.
The Ceed is not available with a powered tailgate.
Motability - Ease of use and options
The 1.4 T-GDi petrol and 1.6 CRDi diesel are the only engines available with an automatic dual-clutch gearbox (badged DCT). However, the 1.4-litre petrol unit is only available in ‘3’ specification and above, while the 1.6-litre diesel can only be had with the DCT from GT-Line trim and above. All autos feature an electronic parking brake too.
The Ceed’s interior is characterised by its ease of use. The dashboard has large, easily visible buttons for controlling everything from the stereo to the climate control. They are placed within close reach of the driver.
All Ceeds offer plenty of driver’s side adjustability, although you’ll need to change the settings manually. It’s worth noting that the front passenger seat in entry-level ‘2’ doesn’t feature any height adjustability at all.
Every version features a touchscreen infotainment system. In entry-level ‘2’ models it has an 8in screen while all other trims get a 10.25in one. Finding your way through the various submenus is a simple process – a fact that’s aided by a limited number of dedicated shortcut buttons on the dash, as well as decent-sized on-screen buttons that, for the most part, are easy enough to interact with on the move.
Heated door mirrors, a front wiper de-icer and automatic lights are included as standard. If you upgrade to 3 trim, you'll get automatic wipers and rear parking sensors thrown in.
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 pricing is competitive rather than ultra-cheap next to rivals such as the Ford Focus, Skoda Octavia and Skoda Scala, especially as you move up the trim and engine ranges. If you stick to our favoured 1.0 T-GDi in 2 trim, it works out comparatively decent value, though. Significant discounts have always been available, so make sure you check out the Kia Ceed Deals on our free What Car? New Car Deals pages.
Kia has become more competitive in its finance deals recently, with the Ceed coming with very reasonable monthly payments on a PCP arrangement – even next to the good-value rivals mentioned above. Leasing rates are also on the money, so to speak, although residual values aren’t likely to be as good as those of the Seat Leon or VW Golf.
There's less good news if you're a company car driver paying benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax. Despite having relatively small engines, petrol versions of the Ceed are not particularly fuel-efficient when compared with the equivalent Leon or a mild-hybrid Focus, with the Ceed also having higher official CO2 emissions than the best rivals, pushing up your tax bill. The diesel, which uses mild-hybrid technology, is a little more competitive in this regard, with the best fuel economy in the line-up. You need to be doing 15,000 miles a year for it to make financial sense, though.
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.
Equipment, options and extras
No Ceed is poorly equipped, and with the exception of metallic paint, Kia doesn’t really offer options. That can be a bind, though, because it means an expensive trim upgrade is necessary if there's a specific feature you want, but the same is true of the Seat Leon.
Entry-level 2 trim gets 16in alloy wheels, automatic headlights, a leather trimmed steering wheel and gear lever, air-con, cruise control, all-round electric windows, electrically adjusted and heated door mirrors, plus the rear-view camera and infotainment package we mentioned earlier. We’d stick with 2 trim to keep the price down, because there are better cars for the same price as higher trims.
That said, if you are really taken by the Ceed, an upgrade to 3 trim is worth a look if you can wrangle a good discount. It adds the better infotainment system and rear parking sensors, along with privacy glass, power-folding door mirrors, an automatically dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers and larger 17in alloy wheels. Higher trim levels are too pricey to justify.
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 and Mazda. In the wider family car class, the Ceed did well, finishing seventh out of 24 rivals, far ahead of volume rivals such as the Focus and Vauxhall Astra.
Even if you do have a problem, Kia’s fantastic seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty is the longest currently available on a new car.
Safety and security
The Kia Ceed seems quite promising for safety when you look at the standard safety equipment you get with all trim levels: automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance and a driver attention monitoring system.
However, when safety experts Euro NCAP tested it, they found some concerns. The driver’s head made contact with the steering wheel in a frontal collision while protection for the front passenger’s chest was poor in a 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 indicates that the Ceed is less safe than many rivals, including the Ford Focus and the outstandingly safe Mazda 3.
According to Euro NCAP, you can make it potentially safer by adding the Advanced Driving Assistance Pack, which includes traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and an upgraded AEB system that includes pedestrian and cyclist detection. It's standard on the higher trims but optional on the lower ones, and bumps the Ceed’s overall rating up to five stars. While it could help you to avoid an accident, the same weaknesses described above still apply if you do have one. On top of that, security expert Thatcham has shown the Ceed to be relatively easy to break into and steal, despite having a standard alarm and immobiliser.
|RRP price range||£22,565 - £31,170|
|Number of trims (see all)||4|
|Number of engines (see all)||1|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||46.3 - 51.4|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||7 years / 100000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£1,293 / £1,913|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£2,587 / £3,827|