First Drive

2015 Kia Ceed 1.0 ecoTurbo 5dr review

Kia's Ceed receives a mid-life facelift, and benefits from a new look, upgraded interior, tweaked suspension and new, more efficient engines.

Words ByRory White

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The Ceed is a hugely important model for Kia. Since its introduction in 2006 more than one million of them have found homes across the globe, and, for 2015, the family car gets a host of updates to stay competitive alongside rivals such as the Seat Leon, Skoda's Octavia and the Volkswagen Golf.

The changes include minor revisions to the car's exterior styling and upgraded dash materials. Ride comfort, handling and refinement have also been focused on, with new suspension components designed to make the Ceed smoother and more compliant, yet also sharper to drive.

Further additions include a new sporty-looking GT Line trim, and a new seven-speed dual clutch gearbox for the top of the range diesel. Importantly, all of the Ceed's engines are now Euro 6 rated. Perhaps the headline change, though, is the introduction of Kia's turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol T-GDI engine. It comes in two power outputs (99 and 118bhp); we're driving the higher powered version here.

What's the 2015 Kia Ceed like to drive?

Largely impressive. For starters, it's one of the most refined three-cylinder units we've come across, staying vibration free and quiet during normal driving. Even pushing it hard only produces a hushed version of the typical three-cylinder thrum. The manual gearshift is reasonably slick, too, while high-speed road noise and wind noise are mostly kept outside.

Its performance in this higher state of tune is surprisingly good. It's certainly not fast, but because its torque is available over a usefully broad range, it'll pull from low revs without fuss, even if ultimately it never feels quick in the process. If you press the engine and work the gearbox, it easily has enough speed for accelerating on to motorways and keeping up with traffic once on it.

Unfortunately, the Ceed's ride and handling aren't quite as good. Our GT Line model with large 17in wheels and stiffer suspension felt unsurprisingly firm over ruts and bumps, but the resulting body bounce was more of an issue.

Its steering remains uncommunicative, too, in any of its three modes - Normal, Comfort and Sport - and its vagueness and inconsistent weight doesn't inspire confidence. There's a good amount of grip, but the way the Kia's body leans more than its rivals' doesn't encourage you to explore its levels and have fun.

What's the 2015 Kia Ceed like inside?

There are no dimension changes, so the Ceed remains decently spacious. There's enough room for four adults to sit comfortably, even if a Nissan Pulsar and Skoda Octavia ultimately have more rear leg room, and the driver gets a decent range of steering wheel and seat adjustment.

The boot, at 380 litres, is similar to that of rivals such as the Seat Leon and VW Golf, but bigger than in a Ford Focus, and its relatively small lip and wide opening makes it easier to load awkwardly-sized, heavy luggage. Its rear seats also split 60/40 and fold down almost flat to open out the cabin.

Although the Ceed's dash hasn't changed shape, its extra chrome accents added around the instruments gives it a genuine lift, rather than appearing obviously faux. The climate controls also remain clearly labelled and nicely laid out, while overall perceived quality is better than average for the family car class.

Our car was fitted with Kia's 7.0in touchscreen sat-nav system, which now features more connected services such as live weather, speed camera and travel information via your smartphone's data. Our car's TFT display between the instruments was easy to cycle through and modern-looking, too.

The dash-mounted system has a responsive screen flanked by bold shortcut buttons, and the general menu layouts are simple to follow. That said, compared with some of the latest smartphone integration and functionality, the Ceed's infotainment feels in need of more than just a facelift.

New safety features have been introduced for 2015, with technology such as blind spot and rear cross traffic monitoring, high beam assist, road sign reading and automatic parking. However, at this point we don't know if they will be standard or optional.

Should I buy one?

You should certainly still have the Kia Ceed on your list of family car options. It was always spacious, well equipped and comparatively cheap to buy, with the benefit of a long warranty. This facelift gives you more reasons to organise a test drive, as it offers improved interior quality, better refinement and improved emissions and fuel economy.

Kia is yet to confirm prices and trim level equipment, but we expect this higher-powered 1.0 ecoTurbo model to cost around £18,000, with GT Line trim adding another £1000. Judging by the way GT Line trim hinders ride quality and does little to help the handling, we'd save the cash unless you're dead set on the looks.

With its emissions of 115g/km and a predicted low list price, this ecoTurbo will not only appeal to private buyers, but also company car drivers with shorter annual mileages. Sure, there are cleaner options in this class, and some are better to drive, more spacious and more luxurious, but the Ceed remains a good value, well-rounded choice.

What Car? says...

The rivals

Seat Leon

Skoda Octavia

Kia Ceed 1.0 ecoTurbo GT Line

Engine size 1.0-litre petrol

Price from £18,000 (est)

Power 118bhp

Torque 126lb ft

0-62mph 11.1 seconds

Top speed 118mph

Fuel economy 57.6mpg

CO2 115g/km