Kia Xceed long-term test review: report 1

Kia has added a premium look – and price tag – to its Ceed hatchback with the pseudo-SUV Xceed. Does it have the talent to back up the extra cost? We're finding out...

Kia Xceed long-term test review

The car Kia Xceed 1.0 T-GDi 2 

Run by Alastair Clements, special contributor

Why it’s here Can a larger boot and rugged styling cues transform the appeal of the competent Ceed family hatchback? We’ve got four months to find out

Needs to Feel special enough to justify the considerable price hike over the standard Ceed, while also offering the practicality demanded by family life

Price £20,795 Price as tested £21,615 Miles covered 1898 Official economy 45.6mpg (WLTP) Test economy 37.3mpg Options fitted Advanced Driving Assistance Pack (£250), Premium Paint (£570)

28 November 2019 – The Kia Xceed joins our fleet

When the Rover Streetwise took a bow in 2003, it was greeted as a bit of a joke, with its faux-SUV styling consisting of roof rails, black plastic body cladding and a raised ride height to give a more imposing stance and driving position. Even those with only a passing interest could see that it was little more than a Rover 25 wearing the emperor’s new clothes.

Kia Xceed long-term test review

Over the ensuing years, however, it has proved to be remarkably prophetic: today, most mainstream manufacturers offer a rough-tough version of their compact family hatchbacks, and Kia is no exception. With the Xceed, however, the Korean brand needs to offer more than simply a rugged makeover if it’s to live up to its name and surpass expectations – not to mention justify the not-insignificant £1900 price hike over the equivalent standard five-door hatchback.

Kia Xceed long-term test review

Fortunately, it does. Because although it is indeed based largely on the worthy but rather dull Ceed, you’ll find the Xceed has a more substantial rear end. It doesn’t result in the vast 625-litre capacity of the Proceed estate, but it’s a useful 31-litre increase over the 395 litres of the standard hatchback.

It also – to my eyes, at least – results in a much better-balanced shape, with more equal overhangs at the front and rear. And the chunkier looks of the Xceed certainly seem to be going down well; my family are all keen, and shortly after I took delivery, a parking attendant was even moved to come over and tell me that mine was the best-looking car he’d seen all day!

Kia Xceed long-term test review

Taking the What Car? road testers’ advice, I opted for the 1.0 T-GDi petrol manual (an automatic isn’t available with this engine) in 2 trim, with the only option fitted being the Advanced Driving Assistance Pack, which means a front collision sensor, and 'premium' paint – in this case, Lunar Silver.

I certainly agree that the spec is generous for a supposedly entry-level model (even if this is the first modern Kia I’ve driven without heated seats as standard), but the jury is still out on the drivetrain. It suffers from clutch judder when pulling away unless you give it a bundle of revs, and the 118bhp turbocharged three-cylinder engine struggles to propel the 1332kg car with much vigour (particularly when it's fully laden) unless you really stir the six-speed gearbox.

That said, it’s fairly frugal: combining my traffic-heavy commute with a few fast motorway runs has resulted in a useful 37.3mpg average on a fresh engine.

Kia Xceed long-term test review

Having already spent time with the Kia Stonic, I had some trepidation about living with the Xceed, but happily it has much better seats than its small SUV sibling, and I so far haven’t suffered the back pain that life with the Stonic induced.

In fact, the entire interior is rather nicely finished and feels solidly put together, while also offering enough space for the family – albeit with limited leg room behind the driver's seat when it’s adjusted to comfortably accept my 6ft 3in frame.

Kia Xceed long-term test review

While we’re talking comfort, the small (16in) alloy wheels and relatively tall tyre sidewalls that come as standard with 2 trim mean a comfortable ride, although there's a fair amount of road noise and bump-thump from the all-round independent suspension over rougher surfaces. This, along with a relatively harsh engine note at lower revs, means refinement isn’t key among the Xceed's attributes, though it’s certainly quieter than the Stonic.

Kia Xceed long-term test review

Otherwise, there’s little to remark upon, and the overall impression has been of a perfectly competent family car that's more polished than I was expecting. Yet despite this, I’m so far finding it hard to make any emotional connection with the Xceed. It will be interesting to see if our relationship develops into something stronger over the next four months.

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