The Kia XCeed is a sporty-looking crossover based on the popular Ceed hatchback. It manages to stand out in a jam-packed segment thanks to its fresh design, quality interior and some vibrant colours. The drive's not bad either.
In the metal
Even though it's part of the Ceed family, the Kia XCeed only carries over the front doors - every other panel is unique to the car. The Ceed itself is a handsome design, but the XCeed steps things up a notch on the style front. Its sleeker profile is down to some smart design tricks that include increasing the height of the bonnet by 65mm and stretching the overhangs at either end, making the XCeed 85mm longer in total than the hatchback. The ride height also increases by 48mm thanks to different suspension, and the XCeed is also 26mm wider than the Ceed.
Other elements emphasise these changes, such as horizontal bars on the lower front bumper section and inserts in the C-pillar to give the appearance of a stretched window frame design. Even with that sloping roofline, the (optionally electric) tailgate opens to reveal 426 litres of boot space. That makes it one of the largest in the segment, just behind the Nissan Qashqai's 430 litres. The XCeed includes a dual layer floor and rear seats that feature a 60/40 split.
The other area that is likely to make a positive impression on buyers is the interior, in particular, the sense of quality you get from it. Our range-topping K4 test car was predictably well-equipped, but when you look across the three specification grades, there isn't really a bad one. Among the highlights is the 10.25-inch display for the infotainment system that offers a host of connected services to which Kia will include seven years of complimentary Live Services. Unique to top-spec models is a 12.3-inch digital instrument display. It features a bright and crisp screen, but doesn't offer configurable layouts as you'd find in some cars, such as the Volkswagen T-Roc. Several different upholstery options are available in the XCeed and, if you're feeling brave, there is a yellow colour pack that adds bright contrast stitching and coloured inserts. We think it looks great with the matching Quantum Yellow paintwork you see here.
Getting in and out of the Kia XCeed is that bit easier than for its hatchback relative thanks to the additional ride height. Whenever you add more height to a car, there is an impact on handling, but Kia's engineers have worked to address this to mitigate any adverse results. A bespoke suspension setup uses hydraulic bump stops to maintain better control despite the spring rates being lowered at either end.
The ride seems more refined too thanks to the technical changes under the skin. Road noise on the move is reduced thanks to a dynamic damper and thicker carpet in the rear. Along with these, there are sound deadening materials in the floor of the car and around the exhaust. It all seems to work, as we found no cause for complaint over the engine or road noise during our drive - even with the car wearing 18-inch alloy wheels, the largest available (wide low profile tyres can often be a contributing factor to increased tyre roar at speed).
Kia expects its 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine to be a popular choice, and in 2020 there will also be a plug-in hybrid version of the XCeed. But for those still keen to run a diesel the good news is that the 1.6-litre CRDi engine appears to be as efficient as ever even in the face of tightening emissions regulations. Its equipped with an AdBlue system to treat exhaust gases and, until the PHEV version arrives, has the lowest CO2 emissions of the range. On long runs the engine sips fuel, and we suspect it's not far off the mark of Kia's official 4.4 litres/100km on a combined cycle. A decent spread of torque up to 3,000rpm means you rarely have to work the engine that hard once you keep it slotted in the right gear.
In start-stop city traffic the light clutch and slick gear change aren't as tiresome as some of its competitors'. Though if that's likely to be a constant in your driving, then the seven-speed DCT automatic is well worth a look. Get the Kia out on more open roads and it might surprise you. Rather than go down the sporty route of trying to make everything feel taut, there's just the right amount of body lean and compliance in the suspension resulting in a fun drive without massively compromising on comfort. It's not going to bother any hot hatches, especially with the 1.6-litre diesel, but it's a lot better than it needs to be.
What you get for your money
Pricing for the Kia XCeed kicks off at €26,245, and it will be available across three specification grades, K2, K3 and K4, similar to other cars in the range. The K2 specification includes 16-inch alloy wheels, LED front and rear lights, privacy glass, an eight-inch touchscreen display and a suite of safety systems including Lane Keep Assist, Speed Limit Assist, High Beam Assist and Forward Collision Avoidance.
A €1,900 jump to €28,145 gets you to the K3 specification and brings some of the more appealing features. The 18-inch alloy wheels help the exterior look while inside there is half-leather upholstery and an electric parking brake. The larger 10.25-inch infotainment screen is standard here and includes satnav and a reversing camera. The centre console also gains a wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones.
The top-spec K4 version will cost from €30,245 in the case of the 1.0-litre petrol engine and adds some additional comforts inside such as heated front seats, keyless entry and start, automatic climate control and the 12.3-inch digital instrument display. Additionally, it gains Blind Spot Detection. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be standard on all models. In addition to the forthcoming XCeed PHEV model, Kia is planning a 115hp diesel with the K3 specification, which is expected to cost around €31,000.
It would be easy to see the Kia XCeed as just another crossover, but it backs up its style with plenty of substance. While the 1.6-litre diesel isn't the most exciting or engaging of engines, from long-term ownership and cost-of-running perspectives it delivers, with good fuel economy and affordable tax rates. Beyond that, its quality of finish and pleasant driving dynamics make this a winner.