Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Three petrols and two diesels make up the engine lineup. Even the cheapest petrol engine – the 118bhp turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0 T-GDi – provides the kind of performance that most buyers will find quite adequate, even on the motorway. It's worth pointing out, though, that similar 1.0-litre turbocharged engines in rivals have a bit more low-down shove, so you need to rev the Ceed's harder to get the best out of it. It’s still the one to go for in the lineup.
If you want or need more poke, the 138bhp turbocharged 1.4 T-GDi petrol proves really flexible and is certainly proficient at keeping pace with fast-moving traffic. There’s also a warm GT version of the Ceed that comes with a 1.6-litre 201bhp petrol engine badged as the 1.6 T-GDi. Indeed, it’s by far the quickest engine in the lineup. It comes with a steep price tag, mind, and while it's impressively zingy once the boost builds and the engine’s on song, its pronounced turbo lag gives rise to a lazy throttle response that prevents it from feeling like a true hot hatch engine.
We are yet to try the two diesels – the 1.6 CRDi 114 and 1.6 CRDi 134. Our experience of the mechanically very similar 1.6 CRDi 114 unit in the Hyundai i30 suggests it will pull eagerly at all but very low revs. However, it's not much punchier than the 1.0 petrol, so it’s only worth considering if fuel economy is of particular importance.
Suspension and ride comfort
If comfort is your absolute top priority, you might want to strike the Ceed from your shortlist and instead look to the Volkswagen Golf or Skoda Scala; 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 Ceed’s relatively quick steering gives it a lively cornering turn-in and this gives the initial impression of a pretty tidy-handling car, but push harder and you'll discover that the steering is nowhere near as rich in feel as a Ford Focus’s, nor as progressively weighted as that of the Golf or Skoda Octavia. The upshot is you feel a little less confident to place the Ceed accurately in bends.
And 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. As a result, it has to rely quite heavily on its electronic systems, so an emergency lane change, for example, can feel quite alarming.
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 from 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 Ceed noisy, but it isn't 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 sounds a little coarse. The 1.4 T-GDi transmits less buzzing through to the interior, but it's still relatively uncivilised when you work it hard. The 1.6 T-GDi in the GT has the most pleasant-sounding engine note in the lineup.
As for the controls, a slightly hair-trigger accelerator on the 1.4 T-GDi can lead to some rather abrupt or staccato getaways, which won’t impress your passengers, and the Ceed's slightly notchy manual gearbox isn't as slick as the Focus's. It’s precise and easy to use otherwise. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is also 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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