Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The XCeed's engine range range kicks off with a 118bhp 1.0 T-GDi turbocharged petrol that you can also find in the regular Ceed hatchback. It pulls well from low engine speeds and doesn't mind being revved hard, but it’s at its best when the rev counter needle is halfway around the dial. It also has enough zip that you rarely need to drop a gear when climbing steep hills. We like this engine in the Ceed and recommend it for the XCeed, too.
If, though, you regularly make long journeys with a car full of passengers, it’s the 1.4 T-GDi turbocharged petrol engine that you should go for. It develops 138bhp and provides similar verve to the Ford Focus Active 1.5 150 Ecoboost. That means it’s not super-quick but feels flexible enough for most needs. There’s also a 134bhp 1.6-litre CRDi diesel that’s not as quick as either petrol, but has a gutsy power delivery at medium revs. High-mileage drivers looking to maximise economy might be able to justify paying its price premium. We have yet to drive the 114bhp version of this engine.
The final engine in the lineup is the 1.6-litre PHEV plug-in hybrid. When its petrol engine and electric motor join forces its performance is similar to the 1.0 T-GDI, and its all-electric mode provides just enough pace to keep up with traffic. Range in this mode is a slightly disappointing 29.8 miles, though – far less than the much faster Mercedes A250e can manage.
Suspension and ride comfort
With a softer suspension setup than the regular Kia Ceed hatchback, the XCeed is compliant over large, soft-edged obstacles, such as speed bumps, and is also pretty settled on motorways. It fails to iron out sharper pockmarks and ridges as effectively, though, and these jar through the body.
The PHEV feels much the same as any other XCeed in most conditions, but doesn’t have quite as tight a grasp of its body movements and sways around a little more on undulating roads. On balance it’s a bit comfier than the Mercedes A250e plug-in, though.
If comfort is your absolute priority, you might want to look instead at regular hatchbacks that don’t attempt to ape the looks of SUVs. The Volkswagen Golf and Toyota Corolla, for instance, are two of the most comfortable cars in the family car class.
The XCeed steers fluently and grips reassuringly, but without the precision and agility that the Focus Active, and even more so, the regular Focus hatchback, provide. It leans more in corners than the Ceed hatchback, too, but not so much that we’d call it wallowy. The PHEV models feel a little less agile on account of the added weight of their battery packs, but they hide their bulk better than many other PHEVs, including the Mercedes A250e.
Noise and vibration
The 1.6-litre diesel engine grumbles a bit at low speeds and when accelerating, but settles to a background hum at motorway speeds. Petrol-wise, the 1.0-litre T-GDI is the only three cylinder engine in the range, and makes a rather different sound from the four-cylinder 1.4 T-GDI. It’s a little louder, but it's never annoying. The The latter engine is pretty quiet at low revs but gets a little thrashy when pushed hard,
It’s a similar story with the 1.6-litre engine of the PHEV, but, when its six-speed automatic gearbox changes down a gear, it tends to send the engine revving away noisily – this is likely to happen when you’re hauling up a hill on a motorway. At least the transition from electric to petrol power is smooth when it happens.
The gearchanges of the optional seven-speed automatic gearbox that you can have with the 1.4-litre petrol engine are much smoother, but it can jerk during low-speed parking manoeuvres. Meanwhile, the standard six-speed manual gearbox of non-hybrid models has a light shift action that's never obstructive but isn't as sweet or slick as the Focus Active’s. The springy clutch takes a bit of getting used to, too, especially with the 1.4-litre petrol engine, which is easy to stall. All versions have strong and progressive brakes, but there's more road and wind noise on motorways than you'll experience in a Golf or a Focus Active.
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