Kia Ceed review

Category: Family car

The Ceed offers tidy handling and a reassuringly long warranty but there are better all-round family cars

Kia Ceed front cornering
  • Kia Ceed front cornering
  • Kia Ceed rear driving
  • Kia Ceed dashboard
  • Kia Ceed boot open
  • Kia Ceed infotainment touchscreen
  • Kia Ceed right driving
  • Kia Ceed front driving
  • Kia Ceed front right driving
  • Kia Ceed rear right driving
  • Kia Ceed front right static
  • Kia Ceed right static
  • Kia Ceed rear left static
  • Kia Ceed headlights detail
  • Kia Ceed alloy wheel
  • Kia Ceed rear lights
  • Kia Ceed front seats
  • Kia Ceed back seats
  • Kia Ceed steering wheel detail
  • Kia Ceed start button
  • Kia Ceed air-con controls
  • Kia Ceed interior detail
  • Kia Ceed front cornering
  • Kia Ceed rear driving
  • Kia Ceed dashboard
  • Kia Ceed boot open
  • Kia Ceed infotainment touchscreen
  • Kia Ceed right driving
  • Kia Ceed front driving
  • Kia Ceed front right driving
  • Kia Ceed rear right driving
  • Kia Ceed front right static
  • Kia Ceed right static
  • Kia Ceed rear left static
  • Kia Ceed headlights detail
  • Kia Ceed alloy wheel
  • Kia Ceed rear lights
  • Kia Ceed front seats
  • Kia Ceed back seats
  • Kia Ceed steering wheel detail
  • Kia Ceed start button
  • Kia Ceed air-con controls
  • Kia Ceed interior detail
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Introduction

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, it focuses on the really important areas, giving you a long warranty, competitive pricing and plenty of standard equipment. So, on paper at least, it looks like it immediately ticks all the boxes. 

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 its class.

So does the Kia Ceed have the talents to triumph over the best family cars – including the Ford Focus, Seat Leon and Vauxhall Astra? Read on to find out...

Overview

The Kia Ceed is competitive in lots of areas but unlike its best rivals it fails to be outstanding in any one area. The Ford Focus handles better, the Skoda Octavia and Scala are more practical and the Volkswagen Golf is more comfortable. If you do buy a Ceed, we recommending going for the entry-level 2 trim.

  • Entry-level versions represent good value for money
  • Class-leading warranty
  • Decent-sized boot
  • Not especially generous for rear seat space
  • Less efficient than rivals
  • Unsettled ride over rough surfaces
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

There’s only one engine available with the Kia Ceed and it’s badged the 1.5 T-GDi ISG. With 158bhp, it has more than enough oomph for everyday driving once you’re up and running, but can struggle at low revs. 

If you plant your foot, the Ceed with a manual gearbox will officially get you from 0-60mph in 8.4 seconds, while the automatic gearbox version manages the same sprint in 8.6 seconds. That’s a match for the Ford Focus 1.0L Ecoboost 155PS and slightly slower than the Skoda Scala 1.5 TSI 150PS (0-62mph in 8.2 seconds).

Suspension and ride comfort

If comfort is your absolute top priority, you might want to strike the Ceed from your shortlist and look instead at the Skoda Scala or VW Golf equipped with Adaptive Chassis Control (DCC) – two of the most comfortable family cars available.

Like 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 and 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 rivals. We’ve yet to try the largest 18in wheels that come with GT Line S trim.

Kia Ceed rear driving

Handling

The 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 you discover that the steering doesn't feel anywhere near as rich as a Focus's 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.

Kia Ceed image
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While the Ceed feels generally nimble and flows well 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 Ceed noisy but it's not as refined as the likes of the Golf and Focus. The 1.5 T-GDi engine sends a fair few vibrations through the controls and sounds a little coarse when revved. 

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 Octavia and its suspension is quieter over bumps.

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

If you go for the entry-level Kia Ceed, you’ll find that there’s a good range of adjustment for the driver's seat and steering wheel, while the pedals are properly in line with the seat and steering wheel, so you don’t sit in a crooked position.

Sadly, the entry-level car misses out on adjustable lumbar support, while top-spec GT Line S gets electric adjustment and a memory function.

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.

Most versions come with traditional dials and a 4.2in screen behind the steering wheel, supplying all the vital information in a clear way, while the GT Line S upgrades it to a 12.3in fully digital display. The animated graphics are clear and smooth, but it lacks the functionality of the display in the VW Golf (which can show a full size sat-nav map).

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Forward visibility is pretty good, with relatively slender windscreen pillars making it easy to see out of junctions. The view through the back is less impressive, especially over the shoulder, due to the small rear windscreen and wide pillars.

Luckily, the Ceed is still pretty easy to park, thanks to a rear-view camera with all trims and rear parking sensors from GT Line trim and above. Top-of-the-range GT Line S is even easier to park because it comes with front parking sensors and a system that’ll park the car for you.

Handily, all versions have heated door mirrors and automatic headlights, which are upgraded to LED units if you go for GT Line or above. They give you great visibility at night, but even the 2 trim’s normal headlights are pretty bright.

Kia Ceed dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

In entry-level 2 trim, the Ceed comes with a 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system that features DAB radio, Bluetooth, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. All the other trims come with a larger 10.25in touchscreen with a built-in sat-nav app

While some people might not like the screen's floating look, which makes it look like a tablet computer 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 no 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.

Quality

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. 

It's not as classy inside as the more expensive Audi A3 or BMW 1 Series (as you might expect of a cheaper car) but it feels rather more upmarket than the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

Even tall people will be able to get comfortable in the front of the Kia 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.

Rear space

The Ceed provides enough room for a couple of six-footers in the back but leg room is average rather than generous, and it's tighter than in rival family cars including the Ford Focus, Skoda Octavia and Skoda Scala as a result. 

The rear seat 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.

Kia Ceed boot open

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 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.

Boot space

The 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 Ford Focus and VW Golf), which is enough for five carry-on suitcases under the parcel shelf. That's good, but no match for Skoda 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.

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 family car rivals such as the Ford Focus and Skoda Scala – especially as you move up the trims. Make sure you get the best price by checking our new Kia deals page

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, and the resale values are predicted to be better after three years than most rivals, including the Focus and the Seat Leon.

There’s less good news if you’re a company car driver paying benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax, due to a lot of the Ceed’s rivals offering hybrid tech where the Kia doesn’t. As a result, the Ceed’s 1.5 petrol engine produces more CO2 emissions than the mild-hybrid Focus and the equivalent VW Golf. That said, 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 and some styling changes, 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 (the same is true of the Seat Leon).

Entry-level 2 trim gets 16in alloy wheels, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear lever, air-con, cruise control, all-round electric windows, electrically adjusted and heated door mirrors, automatic headlights, a rear-view camera and touchscreen infotainment. 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 a 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 wheels.

Higher trim levels are too pricey to justify.

Kia Ceed infotainment touchscreen

Reliability

Kia has a fine reliability record, and finished eighth out of 32 manufacturers featured in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey – above all the makers of the Ceed’s main rivals except Toyota. 

In the family car class, the Ceed as a model was slightly less successful but still finished within the top 50% of the 29 strong field, below the Focus but way ahead of the Seat Leon, Skoda Scala and VW Golf. 

Even if you do have a problem, Kia’s fantastic seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty is really impressive, beating all rival brands except Toyota, which offers a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty if you always service your car at an authorised centre.

Safety and security

The 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. It scored four stars, which is less than the Ford Focus and Mazda 3 (both of which scored five stars). 

There used to be a Safety Pack available that boosted the Ceed’s star rating to five stars, but that is no longer an option and most of the kit it offered now comes as standard with the GT Line S. That added equipment includes blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.


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FAQs

  • They’re both around the same size, with the Ford Focus sitting slightly longer than the Ceed, which is slightly taller. Regardless, interior space is about the same and enough for six-footers in all seats.

  • The motorway is probably where the Ceed is at its best, because the engine is always in its stride and the ride settles down. That said, a Skoda Scala or VW Golf with adaptive suspension will be better.

  • The Ceed is similar to most other family cars including the Ford Focus, the Seat Leon, the Skoda Scala and the VW Golf.

At a glance
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Target Price from £21,201
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From £16,995
RRP price range £22,605 - £31,215
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)2
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) £1,295 / £1,915
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,590 / £3,830
Available colours