The Cee’d is a smart-looking hatchback, and benefits from the minor facelift that was introduced late in 2015. This extended to not much more than new bumpers, extra chrome trim and a revised grille, but the basic shape remains: the sharply profiled bonnet and flared headlights that wrap around Kia’s ‘tiger-nose’ grille lend the car a slightly aggressive air, which is complemented by its wedge-like profile. Every model comes with body-coloured bumpers, door handles and mirrors, while all but the most basic also have with alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and plenty of chrome detailing. At the top of the range, GT and GT-Line models give the car a sporty makeover, with a deeper front bumper, ‘ice cube’ daytime running lights and a mesh grille, with full-LED lights and twin exhausts at the rear.
The Cee’d may sell – at least in part – on its good value, but there’s no penny-pinching in its interior quality, which is bang in line with what European car buyers expect. The dashboard is moulded from decent plastics, and even the materials used in the lower parts of the cabin are of a good quality, with little evidence of shiny or scratchy finishes. Gloss black inserts and tasteful chrome detailing further improve the perceived quality, and there are no complaints about the driving position. The dashboard is nicely laid out, too, although the sheer number of buttons on the steering wheel is rather confusing.
The Cee’d is at least on a par with its European competition for family-friendliness
While it doesn’t feel quite as roomy as a Vauxhall Astra or Volkswagen Golf, the Cee’d has room for four adults, with space for a fifth on short journeys. Rear legroom is adequate, but taller passengers will wish for slightly more headroom. Boot space is a useful 380 litres – pretty much identical to what you’ll find in a Golf or Astra – and that rises to an impressive 1,318 litres with the rear seats folded. Overall, the Cee’d is at least on a par with its European competition in terms of family-friendliness and usability.
Ride and handling
The Cee’d’s behaviour in the corners is best described as competent rather than entertaining, although how the car drives depends on which trim you buy: the GT and GT Line models give a noticeably sharper feel thanks to their sportier suspension set-up. Throughout the range, there is a linear response from the steering, which gives inspires confidence, even if it ultimately feels somewhat inert in comparison with what Ford Focus drivers enjoy. That’s not to say the Cee’d is a dull drive – in fact, it’s grippy, stable and composed – but it just lacks the outright quality of the class-leading Ford. Ride comfort, however, is perfectly reasonable and comparable to European rivals such as the Peugeot 308. It is particularly composed on motorways, and although it feels slightly firmer at lower speeds, it never gets uncomfortable or crashy.
Three petrol and two diesel engines are offered in the mainstream Cee’d range, and the star of the show is the turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine that comes in two power outputs. So far, we’ve only driven the more powerful unit, and it’s very impressive: particularly smooth and refined for a three-cylinder unit and with a good pull across the full rev range. Other than that, you have a choice of 1.4- or 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines; but unless you’re after an entry level version, you’ll have to go for the larger units, which make up the bulk of the range. We’d recommend the 1.6 diesel, as its greater pulling power makes it easier to get around, and without so much effort. At the top of the range, the GT’s turbocharged gives good performance, but it’s the flexibility that impresses rather than the outright pace. Essentially, if you view it at as a warm – rather than a hot – hatch, you won’t be disappointed.
Lower-mileage drivers should consider the 1.0-litre petrol engines
The Cee’d may be good value, but it’s not cheap – in fact, the line-up starts at a higher price than the both the Focus and Astra ranges. As you would only expect, the diesel engines give the best average economy – around 70mpg – but lower-mileage drivers should also consider the 1.0-litre petrol engines. They average getting on for 60mpg, but cost less to buy, so may well make a more cost-effective choice overall. On the other hand, the 1.4- and 1.6-litre petrol engines are less attractive, only averaging around 50mpg.
With few major faults being reported across the Kia range, the brand is earning itself a well founded reputation for reliability. Indeed, most (if not all) owners of the pre-facelift version of this car report faultless reliability on this site. The Cee’d is also backed up by a seven-year/100,000 mile warranty, meaning it will have the same manufacturer cover after four years as a brand new Ford Focus.
With passive safety measures including six airbags and anti-whiplash front head restraints, the Cee’d was awarded the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests; and, as you would expect, it comes with a plethora of electronic safety systems, with Blind Spot Detection, Speed Limit Information and Rear Cross Traffic Alert all available. The top-of-the-range 4 Tech model also comes with a Lane Departure Warning System, while Hill-start Assist control is fitted as standard on every model to ensure the car doesn’t move backwards while moving off uphill.
The Cee’d is available in no less than seven trim levels
You can’t say that Kia short changes you when it comes to choice, as the Cee’d is available in no less than seven trim levels. Standard features across the range include air conditioning, electric front windows, remote central locking, DAB radio, and Bluetooth connectivity, to which SR7 adds smarter interior trim, reversing sensors and automatic headlights. On 2 trim, you also get smarter external trim and cruise control, while 3 brings a touch-screen sat-nav system and reversing camera, as well as upgrading the air-con to dual-zone climate control. Leather upholstery and keyless entry come with 4 trim, while 4 Tech adds extra safety features, xenon headlights and a sunroof. Finally, the GT and GT Line package gives the car a sporty makeover inside and out.
With the Cee’d, you needn’t sacrifice style and refinement in the pursuit of reliability and worry-free motoring. Its European rivals may have the ultimate edge in driving dynamics, but in every other respect, the Cee’d is a real contender.