2020 Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi 48v iMT: price, specs and release date

Updated Kia Ceed gains mild-hybrid tech to improve efficiency. Do the changes make it more recommendable?...

2020 Kia Ceed IMT hero

Priced from: £16,000 (est) | On sale: September

It might not look it, but this Kia Ceed is like no other car you’ve seen before. Why? Its manufacturer says it’s the first to use mild-hybrid technology in tandem with an electronically controlled clutch to reduce fuel consumption. Don’t worry, there’s still a pedal to operate, it's just there’s no physical connection to the clutch itself.

The new system - denoted by the 48v iMT part of the Ceed’s name - allows two things to happen: first, the car can switch off sooner than it could before when coming to a stop and second, it can now also idle briefly while on the move. Both of these should save fuel in the long-run, while CO2 emissions are reduced as well.

In addition, Kia has also introduced some new online features for its phone app that can connect to your Ceed. These include more accurate journey time estimates, an augmented reality navigation system and transferable profiles that upload your favourite settings into the car when you get behind the wheel. 

The updates should arrive in the UK by January next year at the latest, with a proper facelift due for the line-up at the tail end of 2021.

2020 Kia Ceed IMT rear

2020 Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi 48v iMT on the road

Hybrid technology can be off-putting for some due to its added complexity, but on the diesel Kia Ceed you won’t need to change your driving habits at all; crucially, the clutch pedal feels totally normal with a defined biting point as you’d expect. As promised the engine will switch off promptly as you slow down to a stop, restarting again the moment you press the clutch with none of the delay that you could attribute to less sophisticated start-stop systems of old. 

At motorway speeds any difference in behaviour is more difficult to pick up on. Lift off the accelerator pedal and you’ll notice the car coast freely, although we didn’t see the engine shut down once in this scenario, even momentarily. Kia says the system will only do this when it doesn’t need to maintain power for things like the air con, potentially limiting its potential on hotter days.

Does the new tech deliver? Officially fuel economy improves from 56.5 to 57.3mpg, but on our short test route in Germany - which took in mostly town and country roads, as well as some dual carriageway - we managed an impressive 60.1mpg. Performance is adequate, although you will find yourself changing down a gear more often than the more flexible VW Golf 2.0 TDI 115, let alone the TDI 150.

Engine aside, the Ceed remains the same as before. The steering’s weight is pleasant enough and it’s quick, yet a Ford Focus gives a better sense of connection to the front tyres, helping its steering feel more precise. The engine is very quiet, and there’s very little in the way of wind noise even at 70mph. 

The ride comfort also falls short: on rougher surfaces you’ll get jostled around in your seat and rivals take the sting out of potholes better. Our test car rode on 17-inch wheels, although we know from experience that the difference between these and the 16-inch wheels available on lower-spec versions is negligible.

Kia Ceed Sportswagon 2020 dashboard

2020 Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi 48v iMT interior

The interior is identical to the pre-update model, so it’s still well screwed together if not blessed with quite so many squishy plastics and appealing trims as the Skoda Octavia. It features the familiar 10.25-inch touchscreen, which is logical enough to navigate but disappointing to use owing to the slight lag when responding to commands.

There are some new features though: Kia has introduced a handful of new services to its UVO Connect smartphone integration system. This is the app you can use to lock and unlock the Ceed remotely, as well as locate it on a map when you’re out and about.

The additions include better journey time estimates, with Kia working with more partners to incorporate historic traffic data into its sat nav. It’s also developed a feature that superimposes directions on to your smartphone camera, so you can navigate easily to your destination should you need to park and continue on foot. And if you forget a pet on the back seat, sensors will detect movement in the car and send a warning to your phone.

But the biggest gain may well be the transferable driver profile feature: this allows you to configure your favourite settings for the radio, Bluetooth and navigation before you step foot in the car. So if you share the Ceed with anyone else it’ll save you having to rifle through the touchscreen at the start of a journey by uploading your preferences automatically. Handily, these online features are free for at least the first seven years of ownership.

If you’re wondering how it stacks up on rear seat and boot space, plus more information on the infotainment system, have a look at our main Kia Ceed review.

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