First drive: The Kia XCeed is a credible crossover option straight out of the gate
What is it?
The Kia Ceed family has many facets as it is. The hatchback, Sportwagon estate and the sporty Proceed shooting brake offer plenty of choice for customers looking for a reliable model with plenty of practicality. But the South Korean firm has decided that it needs to fill another niche with the Ceed moniker with this, the XCeed.
The crowded crossover segment continues to prove incredibly popular with British buyers and Kia has seen an opportunity for a slice of the sales pie with this latest model. Slotting in between the Ceed and best-selling Sportage SUV, the XCeed fills an admittedly small gap in the range – Kia is clearly looking to capitalise wherever it can. So, as with the impressive hatchback, can this new crossover exceed our expectations?
Kia has differentiated the design of the XCeed from the rest of the family by including a larger grille and air intakes at the front as well as a sharper light signature. The XCeed also sits 60mm higher than before and has larger overhangs to make it a more imposing vehicle on the road.
The crossover also gets new infotainment features including an optional 10.25-inch touchscreen that can employ split-screen functionality, while a 12.3-inch digital instrument display is also introduced as a brand-first. Kia has added the UVO Connect telematics system, which provides updates on traffic and weather along with all of the vehicle’s diagnostics data.
What’s under the bonnet?
From launch, UK customers will have the choice of the 1.4-litre, 138bhp petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel developing 134bhp – while a petrol plug-in hybrid version is on the way in 2020. We’ll focus on the diesel here though, which can be teamed with a six-speed manual or the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic fitted to our test car.
The diesel-auto combo was an intriguing one, as our test route in the south of France combined city driving, motorway stretches and twisty sections through the mountains of Provence. The auto box could be hesitant at times, especially under harder acceleration. That being said, changes were smooth and the diesel engine itself was quiet and refined, making the cruising experience very pleasant.
We also tested the petrol engine with a manual transmission on a shorter route. With slick and short changes, the six-speed was excellent to use, while the petrol engine itself was quiet and refined at cruising speeds, but great at providing the power when needed.
What’s it like to drive?
This is where the XCeed stands out in the crossover market. It is remarkably composed whatever type of driving you’re doing. It’s comfortable without being floaty and it hunkers down when making sharper turns. The XCeed remains stable at all speeds and on all road surfaces, while the exterior noise is minimal.
The steering is well-weighted and direct, and although there is a lack of feel as with all modern electrically assisted steering systems, the XCeed feels sure-footed. There is some roll when cornering at higher speeds, but there isn’t too much to be worried about. Dynamic mode adds steering responsiveness but slightly harsher suspension – so we’d happily keep it in the regular setting. The assistance systems can be intrusive – especially the lane keep assist – but on the whole, the XCeed is incredibly pleasant, and in some cases, enjoyable to drive.
How does it look?
Kia wanted to make the XCeed stand out from the rest of its siblings. In doing so, the brand altered the grille design, while also including a lower front air intake. Additional chrome elements have also been added, while the light units at the front are sharper – although they still feature the signature ‘ice cube’ lights from the regular Ceed.
The large 18-inch alloys on our test car look great and don’t hinder the overall feel of the car either. The additional plastic cladding around the lower edge and roof rails add a further SUV-like feel to the model – something which most crossover customers are after.
The coupe-like shape makes the XCeed look like a shorter but taller version of the Proceed in many ways – but as design niches for body styles continue to be filled, it’s no surprise Kia has gone in this direction.
What’s it like inside?
As with every other Kia, the interior isn’t the most exciting on the market. That being said, the yellow pack does add a pop of colour against the rather dark cabin. All the materials are of a good quality, especially the leather on the seats. There are no scratchy materials in sight, making for an unspectacular but well-made interior.
Passenger space is good, with the sloping roof line not limiting rear head room for taller people in the back. If six-footers are sat in the front, rear legroom may be a bit more limited, but it’s not bad by any means. A funky feature is that the driver’s seat slides forwards when you close the door to get you into position and makes getting in and out much easier, something usually reserved for more expensive vehicles.
What’s the spec like?
We tried the top-spec First Edition model, although the ‘2’ and ‘3’ grades will be available to customers as well – both of which are well-equipped. The flagship trim came with all you could ask for – 18-inch alloy wheels, a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment display, 12.3-inch instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control, power tailgate, wireless phone charging, aluminium pedals and a fleet of driver assistance systems.
Standard kit on the entry-level model, which starts at £20,795, is good though. It gets LED headlights and daytime running lights, eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control, air conditioning, reversing camera and sensors, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. Driver assistance systems are also included, such as lane keep assist and forward collision-avoidance assist.
The XCeed is a great step forward for Kia, as it combines the comfort and reliable build quality of the Ceed hatchback with in-demand crossover styling and improved driving feel. The coupe-like looks are starting to become more common amongst SUVs and crossovers, so while it is hopping onto a growing trend, the XCeed is forging a new path at the more affordable end of the market.
Well-priced, well-equipped and well-engineered, the XCeed is an impressive crossover that is entering its segment near the very top, making for a more than credible challenger.