What Car? says...
In the vast sea of family cars on sale, it can be hard for brands to grab a share of the market. To try to compete, the Kia XCeed has a mash-up of hatchback and funky SUV styling to appeal to buyers looking for something with a bit of extra chunkiness.
Put simply, Kia has taken the regular Kia Ceed and added some smart plastic wheel arches, heftier bumpers and a stout set of roof rails, to give a bulkier silhouette.
Then, to underline the XCeed’s SUV aspirations, the suspension has been raised by 44mm, and given softer settings and some clever dampers. The aim is to make it comfortable but still a bit sport.
That’s not all that’s changed, either. In fact, while the wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) remains the same as the Kia Ceed hatchback, the XCeed is longer overall, making it more practical and giving you a bigger boot.
Kia gives you two petrol engines to choose from, including a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version. The PHEV adds an electric motor and battery that you can charge up, allowing you to drive the XCeed like an electric car on shorter journeys.
So, has this combination of hatchback and SUV elements created a good family car, or has it all been in vain? The XCeed really does have its work cut out for it, because depending on your priorities, you could instead pick the Skoda Kamiq SUV or the VW Golf hatchback.
Read on to find out how we rate the XCeed against those rivals and others in areas such as performance, quality and running costs. We'll also tell you which engine and trim combination we think is best.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The entry-level engine for the Kia XCeed is the 158bhp 1.5 T-GDi petrol, and it gets the cost/performance balance right, so it's our pick. The 0-62mph time is 8.7sec, which is not bad, but the Skoda Kamiq 1.5 TSI 150 manual will cover the same sprint in 8.0sec and is more flexible, especially from low revs.
The XCeed’s other engine option is the 1.6-litre PHEV plug-in hybrid. It’s slightly slower than the 1.5 petrol, but when its petrol engine and electric motor join forces, performance is brisk enough. In all-electric mode, there’s just enough pace to keep up with flowing traffic.
Suspension and ride comfort
The XCeed’s suspension has been revised and softened compared with the regular Kia Ceed making it just as settled on motorways but more compliant over large soft-edged obstacles.
Even so, it fails to iron out sharper pockmarks and ridges as effectively as the best-riding family cars – the Toyota Corolla and VW Golf for example – or smaller SUVs, including the Kamiq and VW T-Roc.
The PHEV has slightly firmer suspension to cater for the added weight of the hybrid hardware, so it fidgets a bit more at higher speeds. It never becomes harsh, though.
The XCeed steers fluently and grips reassuringly, but without the precision and agility of the best-handling family hatchbacks, including the Ford Focus and Seat Leon. It leans more in corners than the Ceed hatchback, but not so much that we’d call it wallowy.
The PHEV model feels less agile than the regular XCeed. That’s true of most hybrids, though, and the XCeed PHEV is still tidier to drive than many of the alternatives.
Noise and vibration
At low revs and around town, the XCeed’s 1.5 T-GDi petrol engine is pretty quiet, but it gets a little thrashy when pushed hard. Meanwhile, the PHEV will drive in near-silent all-electric mode as much as possible when there’s enough charge in the battery.
The petrol engine is hushed when it wakes up, but becomes similarly raucous when pushed, and that’s exacerbated by the six-speed automatic gearbox. On a hill, it hangs on to gears for as long as possible then changes down multiple gears, sending the engine revs soaring.
The 1.5 T-GDi is available with a six-speed manual box that is light and feels good to use, but it has a vague clutch pedal, so setting off from stationary takes some getting used to. All versions have strong and progressive brakes. At motorway speeds, the XCeed has a bit more road roar than the Focus and Golf, but not too much wind and suspension noise.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
We reckon you should be able to get comfortable easily enough in the Kia XCeed. You can move the steering wheel up, down, fore and aft by a good amount, and the driver’s seat is comfortable on a long trip. It adjusts for height on all versions, and only the entry-level 2 trim misses out on adjustable lumbar support. Top GT-Line S trim gets electric adjustment with memory settings.
The analogue speedo and rev counter are simple to read and supplemented by a 4.2in digital screen, which adds additional information, including the trip data. Top-spec GT-Line S gets a 12.3in digital instrument panel that’s bright and clear, but doesn't really offer many advantages over the normal dials.
We like that you get physical buttons for the air-con, because that makes it far easier to adjust settings on the move. In contrast, the touchscreen-operated system in the Ford Focus and the touch-sensitive pads in the VW Golf are distracting and frustrating to use.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Thanks to its narrow front window pillars, you get good visibility out of the front of the XCeed, meaning you won’t struggle when pulling out of junctions. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the same when you look over your shoulder, with the thick rear pillars reducing what you can see.
For that reason, you’ll be glad that every version comes with a rear-view camera to help with manoeuvring, while the 3 trim adds rear parking sensors and GT-Line S trim adds front sensors and park assist too.
Even when the sun sets, you’ll be able to see well in the dark thanks to the standard-fit LED headlights which deliver a bright white light to help you see more clearly.
Sat nav and infotainment
The 8.0in touchscreen that comes with the entry-level 2 trim is mounted high on the dash so you can see it easily. It has Bluetooth, DAB radio, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. The system is reasonably responsive and the menus are easy to work, but the rotary controllers in the BMW 1 Series and Mazda 3 are less distracting to use when driving.
All other XCeed trims have an upgraded 10.3in infotainment touchscreen with built-in sat-nav and online connectivity (for live weather, traffic reports and advice on the availability and price of parking). You can download a smartphone app that lets you remotely send sat-nav destinations to the car and check whether it’s locked. The screen itself has smarter graphics, and you can split it three ways. That means, for example, that you can use the radio, sat-nav and vehicle settings all at the same time.
A good seven-speaker sound system comes as standard, but if you want to upgrade, you’ll need GT-Line S trim with its eight-speaker JBL system. That also adds wireless phone-charging.
Despite being cheaper than almost all its rivals, from the Focus to the Seat Ateca, the XCeed feels solidly made and features a good mix of soft-touch surfaces and gloss-black trims to lift its look.
That said, if you’re after something a little plusher, the Mazda 3 has a near-identical price tag and is a nicer place to be. The best cars in the class for interior quality include the much pricier Audi A3 and the BMW 1 Series.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
If you or your passenger stand at more than six feet tall, no problem: you'll fit in the front of a Kia XCeed just fine. Head and leg room are generous, and the space on offer is similar to what you’ll find in the Ford Focus and VW Golf.
When it comes to storage, the front door bins are a reasonable size, plus it has a couple of cupholders and some useful cubbies for wallets and phones, including a decent-sized one below the standard front armrest. If you go for GT-Line or higher, the armrest slides so you can adjust it for comfort.
Rear leg room is average while head room is unexceptional – going on tight with the panoramic sunroof fitted on GT-Line S. It’s a lot less roomy in the back than the Focus and the Skoda Scala.
It’s not all bad, though. Getting in and out through the relatively wide door openings is easy, and the rear seat is well shaped and comfortable. The almost-flat floor (there’s a very small central floor hump) means there’s plenty of foot space for the middle passenger.
There are also storage nets on the backs of the front seats, a door cubby large enough for a bottle and two cupholders integrated into the fold-down centre armrest.
Seat folding and flexibility
Ordering the top-spec GT-Line S trim is the only way to get 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats in the XCeed, an arrangement that makes it far easier to load long items into the boot while still having two usable rear seats. The rest of the trim levels – and most hatchback family cars – provide a less useful 60/40 arrangement.
This is perhaps the biggest difference between the XCeed and the Kia Ceed. Non-PHEV XCeeds have 426 litres of space – 31 more than the Ceed – beating the Focus, but not the Skoda Octavia. You’ll have enough room for a buggy or a couple of large suitcases and won’t struggle making trips to the tip.
Things aren’t quite as rosy if you opt for the XCeed PHEV, though. It loses a fair amount of boot space (the total drops to 291 litres) because of the battery lurking under the floor. That reduces luggage capacity to less than in the regular Ceed.
You can't get a height-adjustable boot floor with the PHEV, but it’s standard on the non-hybrid versions. When it’s raised, it irons out the step that’s created when you fold down the rear seats. It also reduces the load lip and the effort of lifting heavy items in or out.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
If you stick to the entry-level XCeed with the 1.5 T-GDi petrol engine, the cash price is very competitive. It sits slightly above the regular Kia Ceed at almost the same level as the Mazda 3 and undercuts almost everything else with an equivalent engine, including the Ford Focus, Seat Ateca, Skoda Kamiq and VW Golf.
The XCeed PHEV is far more expensive as a cash purchase but makes more sense if you’re a company car driver because of its cheaper tax rate. It sits in the same tax band as the Renault Captur PHEV but the Skoda Octavia iV has lower emissions and a longer electric range, making tax payments even cheaper.
Charging the XCeed PHEV’s 8.9kWh battery takes a little more than two hours using a wall-mounted charger.
Equipment, options and extras
We’d stick with entry-level 2 trim – it’s reasonably well equipped and keeps costs down. It includes a touchscreen infotainment system and visibility aids, along with 16in alloy wheels, keyless entry, automatic lights, air-con and cruise control.
Next up is 3, which gets you 18in alloys, keyless entry and go, and additional luxuries such as powered lumbar adjustment, dual-zone climate control, and heated front seats and steering wheel. The PHEV is only available in this trim level but adds drive modes and adaptive cruise control that’ll bring you to a halt in traffic.
GT-Line adds sportier styling inside and out, with more aggressive-looking bumpers, unique lights at the rear, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and GT-Line specific sports seats with suede inserts. Top-tier GT-Line S brings leather trim, electric driver’s seat adjustment and memory, heated rear seats, the more practical 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, and an electric tailgate.
Meanwhile, the XCeed itself didn’t fare quite as well, sitting in the lower half of the family car class, below the standard Ceed and the Mazda3 Hatchback but above the Focus and Golf.
Even if you do have a problem, Kia’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty is the longest available as standard on a new car.
Safety and security
When Euro NCAP safety-tested the Ceed (which the XCeed is based on) it found issues with the driver’s head making contact with the steering wheel in a front collision, and poor chest protection in the side-on crash test with a pole. However, since then, Kia has started fitting more advanced automatic emergency braking (AEB) to all XCeeds, rather than just top-of-the-range 3 trim cars.
In short, the latest XCeed gets the full five-star rating. All models also have lane-keeping assistance, a driver attention alert system and traffic-sign recognition, while top GT-Line S trim gets blind-spot monitoring.
Security expert Thatcham has shown the Ceed to be relatively easy to break into and steal though, despite the standard alarm and immobiliser.
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Regardless of which trim you go for, the XCeed comes with a reversing camera to help when parking. On top of that, all versions except the entry-level 2 trim get rear parking sensors, while the top-tier GT-Line S adds front parking sensors as well. Read more here
Its ride is settled on a motorway and copes with small imperfections well, and there's plenty of space for the driver and front-seat passenger. On the minus side, rear head room is limited. Read more here
|RRP price range
|£23,770 - £33,495
|Number of trims (see all)
|Number of engines (see all)
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)
|petrol parallel phev, petrol
|MPG range across all versions
|201.7 - 47
|Available doors options
|7 years / 100000 miles
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)
|£869 / £2,022
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)
|£1,739 / £4,044