Newspress Awards 2024 wide

Automotive Website of the Year

Automotive Website of the Year

Newspress Awards 2024 wide

Automotive Website of the Year

Automotive Website of the Year

Find an Expert Rating: 
New car review

Kia Ceed review

Is the third-generation Kia Ceed a true rival to the Focus and Astra?


Kia has done a very good job of updating its big-selling family car to meet new requirements. In its latest form, the Kia Ceed is equal to the biggest-selling cars on the market. And it no longer has a silly name…
Driving experience
Value for money


Kia has done a very good job of updating its big-selling family car to meet new requirements. In its latest form, the Kia Ceed is equal to the biggest-selling cars on the market. And it no longer has a silly name…

60-second summary

What is it?
The latest Kia Ceed is the third generation of the brand’s Euro-built family hatch.

Key features
Quality build, plenty of space, seven-year warranty

Our view
The third-generation Kia Ceed moves from being the family hatch for owners who want something different to a car on a par with the UK’s biggest sellers.

The Ceed offers everything the family motorist needs – quality in its build, plenty of space, a well-behaved driving experience and the peace of mind of a seven-year warranty. As such it is now a firm rival to the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, even the Volkswagen Golf.

Similar cars
Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Hyundai i30

Kia Ceed road test 2018 | The Car Expert

Full review


The new Kia Ceed launched into showrooms on 1st August and fans will notice one major change even before viewing the car.

No longer is this the subject of one of the best-known catchphrases from Jeremy Clarkson & co – ‘C apostrophe D’ is in the past as Kia drops the frankly irritating piece of punctuation that has led to so many motoring journalists mis-spelling the car’s name.

There is a very good reason. When the cee’d launched in 2006, it was Kia’s first solely European-produced model, charged with moving the brand firmly into the mainstream. Now, it’s firmly there, a viable rival to the biggest names such as Focus and Astra. So with the third generation, Kia is trying to present a more grown-up, mature image for a car that vies with the Sportage SUV as the brand’s European best seller.

This is an all-new Ceed, designed and developed in Frankfurt, and built at Kia’s European plant at Zilina in Slovakia. It is a standard five-door hatch but we can expect more models to follow – the first will be the estate version. There won’t, however, be another three-door pro_cee’d – we won’t miss that even more ridiculously punctuated name…

Built on a new platform, the Ceed is 2cm wider and lower than its predecessor. The wheelbase remains at 2.65m, but the front overhang is cut by 2cm, and that space added to the rear overhang.

This means more interior space and a bigger boot. It’s now 395 litres with the seats up, which is 25 more than the Vauxhall Astra, more than 50 over the Ford Focus.

The Ceed also gains a new, more mainstream styling treatment, clearly influenced by the brand’s recently-launched flagship Stinger model. Where the previous car boasted neatly rounded off edges, now they are much more distinct and crisp. Running from the signature ‘Tiger Nose’ grille, the profile is of solid straight lines, and the bonnet looks longer.

Okay, the Ceed does not present a radically distinctive visual appearance, but it is easy on the eye and not overshadowed by its mainstream European rivals.

Buying and owning a Kia Ceed

The new Ceed offers 11 different models over four trim levels. Costing from £18,295 they run through the brand-familiar ‘2’ and ‘3’ trims, a ‘Blue Edition’ limited edition between them with extra equipment and a bespoke ‘Blue Flame’ paint job, and the temporarily range-topping ‘First Edition’. As the name suggests this will be on sale only for around a year, and will then probably be replaced by a new range-topping trim.

Kia claims that many of the standard features on 2 models are cost options on rivals, such as the cruise control, air conditioning, de-icing front wipers, electric windows all round and automatic headlamps.

Cornering headlamps are standard, as are 16-inch alloy wheels, electric heated mirrors, leather trim detailing and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with DAB and smartphone compatibility through Apple and Android. And the screen also shows images from the standard-fit reversing camera.

Upgrading to 3 costs £2,410 and adds 17-inch alloys, rain-sensing wipers, faux leather on the front seats with some power adjustment, rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and electrically folding mirrors.

The infotainment screen grows by an inch and includes navigation and Kia’s connected services. And there’s an extra digital display between the dash dials with more information.

The First Edition is only available with the 1.4-litre petrol engine and from £25,750 – more than £4,000 more than the equivalent 3 grade. For this, you get proper black leather on the seats, which are heated and vented up front and even the rears heated.

The driver’s seat is also ten-way power adjustable, while there’s a sunroof, keyless entry and start, an electronic handbrake, clever LED headlamps, auto parking and a much better JBL sound system. And it gets a host of extra safety features.

Kia is, of course, targeting a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating for the Ceed and standard active safety technologies include lane-keep assist, forward collision warning with collision avoidance (though only 3 models and above get pedestrian detection), a driver attention warning and auto high-beam headlamps.

Autonomous emergency braking, however, only comes as standard on the First Edition model. It is part of a package called Lane Following Assist (LFA) and offered for the first time on any European Kia.

LFA maintains the car’s distance behind traffic in front at speeds from 0 to 81mph, and also keeps the car in its lane. A feature that may alarm some is its ability to ‘identify appropriate spaces in other lanes to move into safely to gain more ground in heavy congestion.’ It doesn’t apparently deflect the inevitable insults that follow from other drivers…

Also standard on the First Edition is blind-spot and speed limit detection.

One Kia plus point the Ceed does maintain – it comes with a seven-year 100,000-mile warranty, transferable if you sell the car.

Inside the Kia Ceed

Inside the Ceed has undergone a major upgrade, again inspired by the Stinger saloon. Most noticeable is the quality – fit and finish is now on a par with the big-name competitors. It’s even comparable to the Volkswagen Golf, the standard bearer in this class.

Surfaces are soft touch with a pleasing lack of scratchy plastic. And the design boasts a more sculpted appearance, with a strong horizontal line that gives the appearance of a wider, more spacious environment.

The instrument layout is actually very traditional – there are proper, physical dial pods for the speedometer and rev counter, while the centre console switchgear is based around proper switches.

Unlike many rivals, Kia chooses not to integrate its touchscreen into the centre console and then control just about everything from it. The screen sits atop, dubbed ‘floating’ but appearing slightly like an afterthought add-on. But it works very well, especially when navigation is included as the software comes from the highly-regarded TomTom stable.

Kia claims increased front headroom and more rear shoulder room for the new Ceed, as well as the larger boot which also offers a lower loading lip than its predecessor. Certainly it feels spacious and comfortable to travel in, meeting the family car requirements in all respects.

Driving the Kia Ceed

UK Ceed buyers have a choice of three power plants. The 1.0-litre 120hp T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) petrol unit, popular throughout Kia’s model line-up, remains but in updated form, while the previous 1.6-litre version has been replaced by a new 1.4-litre unit.

This engine offers 140hp, 4% more than its bigger predecessor, and thanks to its turbocharger is more responsive over a wider rev range while also cleaner.

Like other manufacturers, Kia is now being obliged to quote the stricter efficiency levels of the latest Euro 6D-Temp regulations, but still the 1.5-litre 115hp diesel engine (again, a new unit) is capable of CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Best petrol result is 122g/km.

These figures are achieved by cars fitted with the brand’s Eco pack, a suite of measures that includes extra underbody aerodynamics, lower suspension, lower rolling resistance tyres and a flap that closes over the grille when the intake is not needed for cooling, so improving the car’s aerodynamics.

Six-speed manual transmissions are standard across the range, with a seven-speed dual clutch auto also on offer.

At the launch event, close to the Ceed’s birthplace in Zilina, Slovakia, we were able to drive with the 1.4-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel units. In the current environment, Kia expects the majority of sales to be with the petrol engines, especially the 1.4.

This is no surprise as the 1.4 is a very well-behaved engine. The many upgrades to the Ceed have included improving sound insulation, and on exercising the throttle pedal, the only way you notice the engine’s efforts is by the increasing speed. It is refined, smooth and oh-so quiet.

The diesel is no less impressive, though if you really accelerate hard in it does manage to remind you it’s an oil burner. And while we haven’t tried the three-cylinder 1.0-litre in a Ceed, it’s fulfilled the brief in other Kia models and we’ve no doubt it will be fine here. But for the best all-round qualities, the 1.4 ticks all the boxes.

Previous Kia Ceed models have attracted criticism in the past for their handling, and the latest version boasts a new fully-independent suspension system that we are told has been “engineered for UK roads.”

Well, it works fine – mostly. Soaking up the bumps on less than perfect surfaces, cruising along mile after mile of motorway, it’s all very well behaved as one would expect in a family car.

Tackle a series of challenging bends, however, and the Ceed doesn’t quite match up to its rivals – especially the Ford Focus, which admittedly is renowned for its handling. There’s not enough feedback through the wheel, which feels slightly divorced from the chassis under it. The car remains well behaved, just not very involving.

Not that many owners will worry about such things. Overall the Ceed ticks all the boxes one expects in this sector – vitally the peace-of-mind factor.


Kia has done a very good job of updating its big-selling family car to ensure it meets new requirements. Where once the Ceed’s aim was to merely get on the same page as its more familiar European opposition, now it has to compete square-on with Focus, Astra and Golf, and strive to exceed them.

The third-generation Kia Ceed does this very well. It matches its rivals in quality, and in places it beats them for practicality, with the only minor minus point a slightly dull driving experience in comparison.

In its latest form, the Kia Ceed is a mainstream family car and an equal to the biggest-selling cars on the market. And it no longer has a silly name…

Key specifications

Make & model Kia Ceed Ford Focus* Hyundai i30
Specification 3 ST-Line Premium
Price (on-road) £21,505 (range starts £18,295) £22,050 (range starts £17,930) £22,360 (range starts £17,000)
Engine 1.4-litre petrol 1.5-litre petrol 1.4-litre petrol
Power 140 hp 150 hp 140 hp
Torque 242 Nm 240 Nm 242 Nm
0-60mph 8.6 sec 8.8 sec 8.9 sec
Top speed 130 mph 130 mph 130 mph
Fuel economy (combined) 48.7 mpg 52.3 mpg 52.3 mpg
CO2 emissions 132 g/km 123 g/km 124 g/km
Insurance group TBA 19E 15E
Euro NCAP rating Not yet tested 5 stars (2012) 5 stars (2017)

* outgoing model; new model arrives in UK late 2018

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.
Kia has done a very good job of updating its big-selling family car to meet new requirements. In its latest form, the Kia Ceed is equal to the biggest-selling cars on the market. And it no longer has a silly name…Kia Ceed review