We’re a funny lot, us car buyers. For years we seemed to be content with some fairly straightforward choices, saloon, hatchback, estate or coupe, and that was about it.
These days you can get SUVs and coupe-like versions of those SUVs, crossovers that look like SUVs but are, in fact, just high-riding hatchbacks, and cars like the Kia XCeed that slip in somewhere in between.
It’s based on the Ceed but dressed up in some strategically-placed black plastic cladding around the wheel arches, along the sills and the bumpers. You also get a sturdy pair of roof rails and ride height that’s been raised by 44mm to complete the transformation from humble hatchback to, well, a slightly higher-riding humble hatchback.
The wheelbase is the same as the standard car but it’s a little longer overall and, consequently, boasts a slightly bigger boot than the hatchback. It also rides on revised suspension with softer settings and clever dampers designed to combine a pleasurable ride without sacrificing the sportier handling of a regular hatchback.
All trim levels are equipped with height-adjustable seats and 3 trim level up gets adjustable lumbar support too. The instrument binnacle houses a pair on analogue dials that flank a 3.5in digital screen which displays supplemental information such as range and fuel economy.
Multimedia functions are served up via an eight-inch colour touchscreen mounted high up on the centre of the dashboard so you don’t have to look too far away from the road to glance across at it. It comes with DAB radio and Bluetooth as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Audio is piped into the cabin via a six-speaker set-up.
The screen is crisp, clear and reasonably responsive but, as always, interacting with a touchscreen on the go is never the easiest, or safest, of tasks.
You shouldn’t have any trouble getting comfortable. All versions are fitted with height-adjustable seats and the steering wheel moves up and down as well as fore and aft. Head and legroom are comparable with other cars in this class so even if you’re over six feet you’ll fit in the front without any trouble.
Space in the back isn’t quite as generous however. Taller people, will, in fact, find it a little cramped across the rear bench with leg and headroom that’s firmly in the average category. Getting in and out is relatively easy thanks to doors that open nice and wide and there’s only a very small hump in the floor which will make life a little more bearable for anyone forced to ride in the middle seat.
Up front there are some decent-sized door bins, a generous glove box, two cupholders and a few trays for your odds and ends but, once again, passengers in the rear aren’t as well catered for with smaller door pockets and, well, that’s it.
Visibility out the front is generally quite good but the thick rear pillars impact on the view out the rear. Fortunately all trims are fitted with a rear-view camera which should prove invaluable in tighter spots. All trims are equipped with bright LED headlights too.
The car feels very well built and there’s a tasteful mix of tactile, soft-touch plastics with gloss black inserts to give the cabin a more upmarket, slightly less sombre, ambience. It certainly compares favourably in a similar price range.
Some wind and road noise does permeate the cabin when you’re travelling at higher speeds on motorways and dual carriageways but it’s never difficult to hold a conversation without raising your voice.
Engine choice is limited to three petrol engines and one diesel. There’s a 1.0 T-GDi with 118bhp and a 1.4 T-GDi that musters 138. The diesel is a 1.6 CRDi unit with either 134 or a rather paltry-sounding 114 which, incidentally, happened to be the power unit under the bonnet of my review car.
It’s a reasonably refined unit even when you demand more of it and it feels more sprightly than the 11-second 0-62mph time suggests. It pulls well in-gear thanks to a decent slug of torque and, of course, there’s the added benefit of decent fuel economy.
The third petrol-engine option is a 1.6-litre unit that’s combined with a battery pack and electric motor. It’s a plug-in hybrid and the electric-only range is a smidgeon under 30 miles – in ideal conditions, of course – so would suit anyone with a relatively short, but not too rapid, commute.
The suspension is set up to be a little more forgiving than in the standard hatchback and the XCeed is generally compliant over larger, less ragged obstacles such as speed bumps, and is reasonably well planted on motorways. When things start to get a little choppier, however, occupants will start to notice the ride get a little more jarring.
The steering is smooth and reasonably well weighted. There’s a good amount of grip as well but it’s impossible to place the front end precisely on the road because there’s so little feedback. There’s a fair amount of body roll in corners -the raised ride height plays a role in this – but it’s never overwhelming.
There is a seven-speed automatic gearbox available but my review car was equipped with the sweet-shifting six-speed manual. It has a delightfully light action that’s precise and forgiving. The brakes are strong and progressive.
The boot is 31 litres larger than the standard hatchback, which means it will hold 426 litres of whatever you’re carrying.
The Kia XCeed is a car that, in a sensible world, wouldn’t exist. It offers SUV looks with hatchback running costs and, well, that’s about it. There’s a bit more room, a slightly bigger boot but you pay a considerable premium over the standard car so that, in my opinion, is the least you can expect.
The XCeed is, in the end, all about the style and, right now, that seems to count for a lot.
Kia XCeed 1.6 CRDi ‘2’ 6-speed manual ISG
Engine: 1.6-litre 3-cylinder diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Max power: 114bhp
Max torque: 280Nm @ 1,500 – 2,750rpm
Max speed: 118mph
Fuel consumption (mpg)
Extra High: 47.1
Emissions (CO2): 141g/km
For more information visit www.kia.co.uk