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 10.8sec), 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. The 1.4 T-GDi it replaced had strong performance so we’d expect the 1.5 T-GDi to be even better. The Ceed GT has a 1.6-litre 201bhp petrol engine badged as the 1.6 T-GDi. It’s by far the quickest car in the line-up but the price is steep and, while it's impressively zingy once the boost builds and the engine is on song, the turbo lag leads to a lazy throttle response that stops it feeling like a true hot hatch.
There’s one choice of diesel power in the shape of the 1.6 CRDi 134, 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
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, which are two of the most comfortable cars in the class.
The Ceed won’t rattle your fillings out and is very compliant over large obstacles, such as sleeping policemen, but it fails to be quite so absorbent 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 lively 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 VW 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.
Those hoping that the GT version may be some revelatory, class-leading warm hatch will be left wanting, too. It doesn’t feel hugely different to the regular Ceeds, and nothing like as good to drive as the impressively well-sorted Focus.
Noise and vibration
We certainly wouldn’t call the Kia Ceed noisy, but it's not as refined as the likes of the VW Golf and Ford Focus. The 1.0 T-GDi petrol engine sends a fair few vibrations through the controls and sounds a little coarse. The 1.6 T-GDi in the GT has the most pleasant-sounding engine note in the line-up – certainly more so than the rather clattery 1.6 CRDi diesel.
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.
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