THERE was an inevitability about the creation of an SUV version of Kia’s Ceed hatchback.

With the regular Ceed, coupe-cum-tourer ProCeed and Ceed Sportswagon already well established, the obvious missing piece in the line-up was a new challenger to the plethora of cross-overs and SUVs that dominate the auto landscape.

What Kia has brought to market is a sporty alternative in a compact body that not only provides for a raised and comfortable carriage but also handles in much the same way as its hatchback sibling.

It’s a timely introduction, with many buyers switching from hatchbacks to crossovers and SUVs. The trick that Kia has pulled off is to provide a quite sporty alternative both in terms of design and handling to the bigger SUVs.

The equipment level is a real wow factor and the turbocharged engines deliver an efficient and engaging drive.

Surprisingly, the only body panels carried over from the hatchback are the front doors. The XCeed gets a swept-back silhouette and a little more space thanks to extensions to the front and rear overhangs and 85cm increase in length.

Riding on 16 or 18-inch alloy wheels, the XCeed benefits from a slightly wider body too, a more prominent and assertive grille and even a tinkering with the signature ice cube LED headlights to present a more angular shape.

Ground clearance is increased by 44mm over the hatchback, while wheel arch and side sill cladding, a roof rail and metallic valance in the rear bumper help to present a tougher image.

The exterior changes serve as an appetiser to the cabin, which is superb in every detail.

There’s an obviously better view of the road through the raised ground clearance, but the ergonomics, standard of the materials and equipment levels make for a very enticing proposition.

The centre console is angled slightly towards the driver, while a so-called floating touchscreen sits proud of the dashboard and touch-sensitive buttons, dials and switches control heating, audio control and ventilation.

Soft-touch materials abound, whether you opt for the Grade 2 or 3 trim levels available, and in terms of safety, connectivity and infotainment it lacks for very little. In fact it is one of the most comprehensively equipped cars in its class.

On a practical level, the XCeed is able to take 31 more litres of luggage than the Ceed and has a two-step boot floor that can be moved up or down to provide either more space or a hidden underfloor storage compartment.

Bespoke suspension and clever dampening ensures a comfortable ride, while the choice of engines should provide something to suit everyone.

I tested the 1.6-litre 134bhp diesel. There’s a 114bhp version of this unit, too, but I would steer towards the higher-powered unit. Whichever, these are the cleanest diesels ever produced by Kia.

The petrol units will probably find more owners. There are two direct injection engines on offer: a three-cylinder 1.0-litre producing 118bhp and a four-cylinder 1.4-litre making its debut and producing 138bhp.

All these engines are mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, with the 1.4 unit also available with seven-speed dual clutch auto transmission. A plug-in hybrid will follow.

A little grumbly at start-up, the diesel unit settles down nicely and delivers more than 50mpg fuel economy. But it is about two seconds slower than the petrol versions on a 0 to 60mph sprint and there’s a premium to pay on price.

Whichever you choose, Kia has made an XCeedingly good car.


Kia XCeed 1.6 CRDi 3

Price: £25,345 (XCeed range from £20,795)

Engine: Four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel producing 134bhp

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving front wheels

Performance: 0 to 60mph in 10.2 seconds; top speed 122mph

Economy: 53.3 combined

CO2 emissions: 116g/km


Performance: ***

Economy: ***

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****