Kia ceed (2019-2021) Expert Review
Kia Ceed (2019-present) Expert Review
The Kia Ceed is a mid-sized hatchback competing in a marketplace dominated by mainstay family cars like the Ford Focus and the Vauxhall Astra. What does the Ceed bring to the party? Well, an impressive seven-year warranty for starters, plus a range of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid power options and no fewer than four different body styles.
- Five-door hatchback
- Five-door estate
2019, 2020, 2021
The Ceed has been produced by Kia since 2006, and it’s got better and better as the years have gone past. This is the third-generation model, introduced in 2018, and it aims to offer an alternative to the likes of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf, with attractive pricing, lots of standard features and a very generous warranty. You can get it as a five-door family hatchback or as an estate, called the Ceed Sportwagon. As if that wasn’t enough, you can also get a more stylish ‘shooting brake’-style estate called the ProCeed, but we’ll cover that in a separate review.
Inside, you’ll find a relatively conservative but not unattractive design, with some nice-feeling materials that all feel well put together. Don’t expect a premium touch like you get in the Volkswagen Golf, but it's a step above the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. All models get a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone connectivity, as well as DAB radio. Entry-level 2 models have an 8.0-inch screen, while other models have a 10.25-inch unit. It’s not the slickest looking system on the market but it’s quick to react and easy to use, which we’d argue is more important.
Practicality-wise, taller adults shouldn’t have too many headroom issues in either the front or the back of either body style, although the top-spec GT-Line S model has electrically operated seats that don’t go quite as low as the manual seats in other models. Legroom in the back is reasonable, but you’ll get more space in quite a few rivals, most notably the relatively cavernous Skoda Octavia. Boot space is good – larger than the Ford or the VW Golf – but nowhere near the Octavia, which is the benchmark for interior space in this size of car. That changes in the Sportswagon, though, which has a very big boot and a large aperture through which to put larger items. It’s smaller in the plug-in hybrid version, as the battery takes up extra space at the back.
The driving experience of the Ceed is best described as ‘acceptable’. It doesn’t excel in any one area, and there are rivals that will do things better, but neither does it disgrace itself at all. The ride quality is largely good, although not as comfortable as in the Volkswagen Golf. Quick steering and a general feeling of solidity through the corners mean the handling is fine, too, but not a patch on the excellent Ford Focus, even in the theoretically-more-driver-orientated Kia Ceed GT model (which does at least have lowered, stiffened suspension for a more sporty experience). Road- and tyre noise is louder than in the Golf, and worse in the Sportswagon than the hatch, but it’s still acceptable on long motorway journeys. In short, this isn’t a car for the driving enthusiast, but those that just want to get from A to B shouldn’t have any major complaints.
The engine line-up consists of three petrol choices (labelled T-GDi) and two diesels (called CRDi), and all are pretty decent. For those prioritising fuel efficiency over performance, the 118bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine will do very nicely, as it’s punchy enough for most unhurried circumstances, although you do need to rev it quite hard. If you do want some extra grunt, there’s a capable 1.4-litre petrol with 138bhp, and a 201bhp 1.6-litre engine that comes with the GT model. This is as close as the Ceed gets to a hot hatch and will give you plenty of pep if you work it hard.
The diesel options start with a 114bhp 1.6, and there’s a 134bhp version of it, too, albeit only on the GT-Line model. The former gives very similar performance to the entry-level petrol but with better fuel economy, so if you’re doing more miles then it might be worth the extra purchase price. The 134bhp version of the 1.6-litre diesel is similar, but with extra oomph, so could be useful if you’re pulling larger loads in terms of passengers or stuff in the back. You can choose between a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed automatic, although not all engines give you the choice.
Three Things To Know
- Trim levels start (somewhat confusingly) with the well-equipped 2 trim, which rides on 16-inch alloy wheels and has aircon and a rear-view camera. In 2020, a 2 Nav model was introduced that gives you satnav and the larger infotainment screen. Next up is the 3, which has 17-inch wheels, the larger infotainment screen and rear parking sensors. The GT-Line model adds a sportier vibe, with 17-inch wheels, black and chrome elements on the exterior and a cloth and faux leather upholstery inside. You also get cruise control, keyless entry and start. The GT-Line S has 18-inch wheels, a sunroof and LED headlights, as well as leather upholstery, heated outer rear seats and adaptive cruise control. Meanwhile, the sporty GT model has a similar spec, but with extra power and some red styling bits to make it look sportier.
- If you’re after a plug-in hybrid Ceed, you’re restricted to just the Sportswagon estate in 3 trim. The Ceed Sportswagon PHEV combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to give you a combined 139bhp and an electric-only range of up to 35 miles. This has the potential to slash your fuel bills, but only if you use it in a particular way. You’ll need somewhere to plug it in and keep the battery charged, and you’ll need to do mostly shorter journeys. As soon as you start using the petrol engine, then you’re just hauling heavy electrical components around, and your fuel economy will plunge.
- If the Ceed line up of a hatchback, Sportswagon estate and Proceed shooting brake still don’t have what you’re after, there’s also an SUV version, called the XCeed. We’ll go into more detail on that in a separate review, but imagine a taller version of the hatchback with some off-road-style body styling, and you’re not far away, although in truth, the back end has actually been completely redesigned. Its higher suspension means it actually rides better than the standard car, so could appeal to those looking for extra comfort.
Which One to Buy
- If you want the most fun: The Ceed GT isn’t a hot hatch on a par with the Ford Focus ST, Hyundai i30 N or the Volkswagen Golf GTI, but it’s the sportiest model in the range and comes with sports seats and a suitably beefy look, as well as a racy exhaust note. It’s more style than substance, though; if you want the look then it more than does the job, but it’s not a great choice for driving enthusiasts.
- If you want the best all-rounder: We think the 3 trim level strikes the right balance of equipment and price, and has everything that most people will need. It’s the same story with the 1.0-litre petrol engine, which suits the character of the car well and is strong enough for most everyday uses.
- If you want all the toys: Aside from the performance GT model, the top-spec GT-Line S trim will give you the most features. As the Ceed didn’t offer new customers the choice of optional extras outside of basics like paint, it has a lot of equipment that you won’t find on lesser models.
- If you want the best fuel economy: If day-to-day running costs are important, you’ll get the best fuel consumption from the plug-in hybrid Sportswagon, but with the previously mentioned caveat that you’ll need to keep it charged regularly and not do long journeys between charges.
The Ceed hatch with the best fuel economy is the 114bhp diesel, which will give you an official MPG figure of up to 60.1mpg. Bear in mind, though, that the diesel models are likely to cost more to buy, and diesel fuel is more expensive than petrol, so make sure you’ll be doing enough mileage to offset those extra costs.
If you’re looking at the Sportswagon then the plug-in hybrid can give you up to 188.3mpg according to official figures, but only if you use it as described above, and even then only if you're very, very lucky. The PHEV also wasn’t introduced until 2020, so will be more expensive to buy than older models.
Of the petrol models, the 118bhp 1.0-litre model will give you up to 50.4mpg, while the GT model will drop that to 38.2mpg.
Insurance groups range from 8 to 22 of 50, so premiums should be pretty reasonable.
All Ceeds need servicing every year, or every 10,000 miles for petrol models and 20,000 miles for diesels. Kia offers service plans for its cars, covering two-, three- or five years and protecting you from future price increases, with packages starting at £319 at the time of writing.
Kia has an impressive reputation for reliability and scores well in independent surveys that rank the major car manufacturers. It backs that up with a massive seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty on all its new cars, which none of the Ceed’s rivals can match. Only MG gets close with the seven-year, 80,000-mile warranty on its MG5 estate, but as that’s only available as a pure electric vehicle, it won’t be a comparable rival for most customers.
Several rivals will give you a five-year warranty, including the Toyota Corolla, Renault Megane and Hyundai i30, but most others make do with three years.
The Ceed finished in 18th out of 75 cars in the 2020 Driver Power survey, which suggests that you’d be very unlucky to have any serious issues with one.
At the time of writing, there have been no recalls for the latest generation of Kia Ceed, and in fact none on any Kia models since 2009.
The CarGurus Verdict
The Ceed is a car that gives you peace of mind. It’s got a stonking seven-year warranty and an excellent reliability record, and between the various versions available, it’s a car that will do everything that most people will need it to do. OK, it might not do much more than that – there are cars out there that are better to drive and more spacious – but at this price, with this much equipment included across the range, the Ceed will be a solid choice for the head to make. We wouldn’t blame you for eventually picking something else, but we’d caution you to at least include the Ceed on your long list.