Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
In the regular Ceed hatchback we prefer the cheaper 118bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol, but so far we’re yet to try that engine in the Xceed.
For the moment that leaves the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol as the most recommendable option. It develops 138bhp and provides similar verve to a Ford Focus Active 1.5 150 Ecoboost. That means it’s not uber-quick, but feels flexible enough for most people’s needs.
The 1.6-litre diesel has a bit more mid-range guts, but is slower in outright speed — only high-mileage drivers looking to maximise economy will be justified in paying its price premium.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Xceed has a softer suspension setup than the regular Ceed hatchback but, if comfort is your absolute priority, you might want to look instead at regular hatchbacks. The Volkswagen Golf and Toyota Corolla, for instance, are two of the most comfortable cars in the class.
We’re not saying the Xceed is a boneshaker, though. It’s compliant over large, soft-edged obstacles, such as sleeping policemen, and also pretty settled on motorways. It fails to iron out sharper pockmarks and ridges as effectively, though, and these jar through the body.
You get more body lean in the Xceed than in the Ceed hatchback, but not so much that we’d suggest that it’s wallowy. And it certainly steers fluently and grips reassuringly, but without the precision and agility that the Focus Active, and even more so, the regular Focus hatchback, provides.
Noise and vibration
The 1.4-litre petrol is quiet at low revs but gets a little thrashy when you gun it. The 1.6-litre diesel is grumblier, but isn't terrible.
If you opt for the six-speed manual gearbox, which comes with as standard, it’s light and unobtrusive but not as sweet and slick as the Focus Active’s ‘box. The springy clutch takes a bit of getting used to, though, especially with the 1.4-litre petrol, which is easy to stall. Meanwhile, the optional seven-speed dual-clutch auto ‘box is available only on the 1.4-litre petrol. It changes smoothly but jerks during low-speed parking manoeuvres.
All versions have strong and progressive brakes, but more road and wind noise on motorways than a Golf or a Focus Active.