What is it?
The Kia XCeed is a new compact-SUV variant of the brand’s core family car.
Strong styling, higher stance, revised suspension
The Kia XCeed sits above the Ceed hatchback, providing some of the perceived presence and space advantages buyers are apparently looking for without the need to spend out on a ‘proper’ SUV such as a Sportage.
The car looks impressive, rides well, and maintains the quality of fit, finish and technology we’ve become used to in the Ceed range. But the question remains as to whether it offers enough that is different to a standard Ceed to justify its rather higher selling prices.
New compact SUVs continue to appear in numbers, almost bursting an already saturated market, but it’s a surprise to see yet another one from Kia – a brand that already offers an SUV range stretching from Niro and Stonic to Sportage and Sorento.
The Kia XCeed is not a typical compact SUV, however. Kia describes it a CUV, a ‘Crossover Utility Vehicle’ and ‘a more sporty alternative’, but basically it’s an example of the very latest trend to segment slicing. Apparently there is enough space between typical family hatches and traditional compact SUVs to justify a whole new type of car – bigger than a hatch, not quite as in-your-face as a ‘proper’ SUV.
This car is, however, much more than a case of taking the basic Ceed shell, jacking up the ground clearance (by just over 4cm) and beefing up the wheelarches to stretch the width by a couple of centimetres. It is a bespoke body shape, the only body panels shared with the Ceed being the front doors. The extra length of nearly 9cm mostly goes into extended front and rear overhangs, the latter creating a bigger boot.
Whichever angle one views the XCeed from, it looks like a muscular car and definitely not like an SUV. Visually it hits the spot – this is an attractive-looking car, certainly much more so than the typical SUV.
And while some might question the wisdom of launching yet another all-new model line in what we are constantly told are challenging times for the international automotive industry, Kia is confident of a market for its new model. It expects the XCeed to take sales from existing crossover SUVs like the Nissan Qashqai, and predicts it will eventually account for half of all sales in the Ceed range.
Buying and owning a Kia XCeed
Being a member of the Ceed range, the XCeed generally replicates the hatch’s choices in terms of powertrains and trim levels. There are four engine options, two petrol and two diesel – a plug-in hybrid variant will join the range next year.
Three trim levels follow Kia convention, dubbed 2, 3 and First Edition. The latter is supposed to be on offer for a limited period but we confidently expect it to be succeeded by something similar.
Prices start at £20,795 which buys a 2 grade with a 1.0-litre petrol engine putting out 120hp and matched to a six-speed manual transmission. For an extra £1,250 one can have the 1.6-litre diesel of 115hp, which saves 15g/km of CO2 emissions and extends the fuel economy by almost 7mpg.
Highlights of the 2 grade include cruise control, keyless entry, auto headlights and on the inside an eight-inch touchscreen with DAB radio and a reversing camera. There’s no satnav but this is less of an issue with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility included, allowing the use of navigation apps.
Those buying cars in 3 grade, costing from £23,295, can choose from all four engines – the 1.0-litre petrol joined by a 1.4-litre with 140hp and a second 136hp version of the 1.6 diesel offered. The 1.4 petrol can also be specified with the seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission.
Niceties added to 3 grade cars include bigger alloys, auto wipers, semi-powered and heated front seats with faux leather bits, parking sensors, dual-zone air-con and a larger, ten-inch touchscreen with TomTom sat nav. A larger, colour digital info cluster is added to the dash while an electric parking brake and keyless entry and start are also included.
Finally there is the range-topping First Edition grade, which can only be specified with the 1.4 petrol engine, with manual gearbox at £28,095 or auto for £29,195. It’s all about technology this model, the clever electronics including a parking assist system, even bigger centre touchscreen stretching past 12 inches, panoramic sunroof, electric tailgate… The outer rear seats are heated, there’s more of the faux leather, a premium eight-speaker sound system and wireless mobile charging.
Significantly, the First Edition includes a host of active safety aids, such as blind-spot and speed-limit warning and pedestrian and cyclist detection on the forward collision avoidance system (FCAS).
All XCeeds include the basic FCAS with its autonomous emergency braking, as well as a lane-keeping aid. The XCeed has not been subjected to a Euro NCAP crash test but its sister Ceed scored only four stars in its test, unusual in the current market. It was penalised for its results in the side-pole impact test and the pressure in the driver’s airbag.
As with other Kias, the XCeed comes with the brand’s seven-year warranty, which is well worth having.
Inside the Kia XCeed
Stepping into the XCeed provides familiar surroundings as this is the same interior as the earlier launched Ceed and Proceed variants, the only differences between grades being basically the size of the touchscreen – still a ‘floating’ variant somewhat stuck on to the top of the centre console – and on First edition versions some body-colour trim in such areas as the air vents.
We liked the quality in the Ceed and we still like it in this car, with lots of soft-touch surfaces and not too much nasty plastic. With the exception of the sticky-up screen it’s all well integrated with strong horizontal lines.
One of the ‘raisons d’etre’ of the XCeed is to offer SUV-like space, and it partially meets the brief here. Sit in it and your hips will be around 4cm higher than in a Ceed, which means easier getting in and out, but the increase in general room is not really significant over its hatch sister.
There’s a 426-litre boot, which is 31 litres more than in the Ceed but also slightly smaller than in traditional compact SUVs such as the Nissan Qashqai. Mind you the XCeed is no traditional compact SUV.
Driving the Kia XCeed
Cars with both petrol engines and the higher-powered diesel were available to test at the launch event. Again these engines are familiar from other Ceed models and quality units.
The 1.0-litre petrol proved particularly impressive in general driving, only feeling forced when worked very hard and its 1.4 sibling providing not as major a power hike as its extra capacity would suggest – the 62mph sprint time varies by around two seconds with the 1.0-litre taking just under 11 seconds.
The diesel engines offer the best economy and emissions, and the higher-powered variant we tested was generally refined though a little rattly at start up.
The transmissions are not quite so impressive. Manual shifts can be a bit sloppy and indistinct while at times the seven-speed auto is slow in operation – of the two we’d prefer the manual.
On the road, the higher stance of the XCeed is no disadvantage. There is an update here over the standard Ceed, the front axle fitted with ‘hydraulic rebound stoppers’. Basically the bump stops or ends float in hydraulic fluid, which damps out the shocks from nasty road surfaces before they reach occupants in the cabin.
What this translates to is a highly enjoyable car to drive, comfortable and relaxing – one could easily imagine clocking up many a mile in the XCeed. It is equally impressive in corners – we liked Kia’s quite recently introduced electric power steering in the Ceed and it works equally well in this format. Placing the car precisely is an easy process and it maintains its composure through a bend with not enough body roll to be of concern.
The Kia XCeed is another effective model from the Korean manufacturer, with the same quality and impressive dynamics as its siblings in the Ceed line-up, just in slightly elevated, slightly more spacious surroundings.
The ‘slightly’ is however the relevant factor. We are not convinced that this car offers enough extra over the standard Ceed to justify spending around £2,000 more, or whether those in the market for an SUV should choose it instead of a Sportage which is not that much further in the price stakes.
Having said that, the current domination by the SUV of all things car-related means that it’s more than likely that the XCeed will indeed become the best-selling Ceed model.
- Visually attractive
- Quality interior
- Comfortable ride
- Less than impressive gearboxes
- Key safety kit only available on higher-spec models
- Not that different to the regular Ceed
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Make and model: Kia XCeed 1.4-litre T-GDi First Edition
Price (on-road): £29,195
Engine: 1.4-litre petrol
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 140 hp
Torque: 242 Nm
0-62 mph: 9.2 seconds
Top speed: 124 mph
CO2 emissions: 134 g/km
Insurance group: 18A
Euro NCAP rating: TBA (Kia Ceed scored four stars in 2019)