Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
With only three engine options, there’s far less choice than you have with rivals such as the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf.
Still, even the cheapest petrol engine – a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder unit – 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, though, so you need to rev the Ceed's harder to get the best out of it.
If you want or need more poke, there’s a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol that proves really flexible and is certainly proficient at keeping pace with fast-moving traffic.
The final engine is a 1.6-litre diesel that we haven’t yet tried. Our experience of the mechanically very similar 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 shortlist and instead look to the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus, 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. However, it fails to be quite so absorbent over rough town roads or pockmarked A-roads.
The good news is that the Ceed doesn't crash or bang harshly over nasty potholes, and we've found that upgrading from 16in to 17in wheels doesn’t make the ride noticeably less comfortable, as it can do in some cars.
The Ceed’s relatively quick steering gives it a lively turn-in to corners, and that initially gives the impression of a pretty well-sorted car. And up to a point that's the case, but push harder and you'll find that the steering is nowhere near as rich in feel as a Focus’s, nor as progressively weighted as that of the Octavia and Golf. 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 doesn't feel particularly well tied down at the rear. As a result, it has to rely quite heavily on its electronic systems; making an emergency lane change, for example, can feel quite alarming.
There's an easy pick in this class if you want something truly enjoyable to drive: 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 petrol sends a fair few vibrations through the controls and sounds a little coarse. The 1.4 transmits less buzzing through to the interior and also needs less of a workout to get the Ceed up to speed, but it's still relatively uncivilised when you work it hard.
Speaking of its controls, the slightly hair-trigger accelerator of the 1.4 can lead you to make a rather more abrupt getaway than you might like, and the Ceed's slightly notchy manual gearbox isn't as slick as the Focus's.
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 proves much quieter over bumps.