Since the all-new Kia Ceed arrived last year we’ve been treated to a regular drip feed of additional models in the Ceed family. After the five-door hatch came the sportwagon (estate), then the Ceed GT (warm hatch) and Proceed (shooting brake). Now, finishing things off – and proving you can never have enough silly names – is the XCeed.
The XCeed is pitched as a sporty urban crossover alternative to traditional SUVs. It sits beneath the Sportage SUV and competes with the Ford Focus Active and VW Golf Alltrack. Unlike those, which are the standard estates with jacked up suspension and cladding, this is a totally different body from the rest of the Ceed range. There’s a family resemblance but only the front doors are shared with other Ceeds and the XCeed is taller, wider and longer than the rest of the family.
Like the Focus et al, there are roof rails, cladding on wheel arches and doors, and a raised ride height to give it the SUV styling cues plus a more swept back and assertive front end.
Inside, it’s a halfway house between the Ceed hatchback and Sportage, with more passenger and boot space than the hatch but not quite as much as the SUV.
The Proceed shooting brake has had people raving about its looks but, to me, the XCeed is the best looking of the current range. The elongated bonnet and swooping tailgate gel with the slightly raised ride height and plastic body trim in far more elegant way than a lot of premium coupe-cum-crossovers and it nails the sporty look Kia are going for.
Kia XCeed 3
Price: £25,195 Engine: 1.4-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol Power: 138bhp Torque: 178lb/ft Transmission: Seven-speed DCT automatic Top speed: 124mph 0-60mph: 9.2 seconds Economy: 40.9mpg CO2 emissions: 134g/km
Under the skin there’s less difference to the standard Ceed hatchback and estate. The chassis, drivetrain and most of the suspension and interior are the same as the rest of the family.
Reflecting its more SUV-like positioning, the XCeed’s suspension has been softened compared to the hatch and the front shocks feature hydraulic rebound stoppers designed to help absorb even major bumps without unsettling the car. On the whole it makes for a fantastically smooth ride, although higher trim levels with their bigger wheels and lower profile tyres aren’t quite as refined as the cheaper ‘2’ trim on 60-profile rubber.
Being taller than the Ceed but shorter than the Sportage means the XCeed largely avoids the body roll that afflicts most SUVs. That’s not to say it’s a sporty car to drive. It’s controlled and settled but in a safe rather than engaging way.
The engine line up reflects that the emphasis is on sporty looks rather than performance. A three-cylinder, 1.0-litre turbo petrol starts the line-up with a six-speed manual. It’s impressively punchy given the car’s size – if a little noisy – and returns official figures of 44.1mpg and 124g/km of CO2. Above that sits a 1.4-litre turbo petrol with 138bhp. Paired with the seven-speed DSG transmission this feels like the XCeed’s sweet spot, less strained and quieter in operation than the 1.0 but still offering 42.8mpg and 102g/km of CO2.
A single 1.6-litre diesel with 114bhp completes the line-up. As in other Ceeds it’s a little gruff but returns excellent economy so is worth considering for high-mileage drivers.
The diesel and 1.0-litre petrol are available in entry level ‘2’ and mid level ‘3’ grade with the manual transmission while the diesel gets the option of the auto in 3 as well. Manual and auto versions of the 1.4 are offered in 3 and First Edition trims.
First Edition cars come loaded with a panoramic roof, front and rear heated seats, self-parking function, a powered tailgate and a 12.3-inch digital instrument display but at £30,000 they also come with a fairly steep price. The digital instruments look nice but offer little in the way of configuration or additional information and while the yellow dashboard highlights and stitching give the interior a lift, they’re hardly worth the extra outlay.
A step down in grade loses the digital instruments, heated rear seats, colour flashes and advance safety kit such as blind spot collision warning and pedestrian and cyclist detection but leaves dual-zone climate control, keyless start, tinted windows, auto wipers and 18-inch alloys. It also keeps the 10.25-inch touchscreen with split screen operation and new and improved (but hardly class-leading) graphics and operation. This feels like the right balance of price versus equipment but even the £20,000 ‘2’ gets cruise control, air conditioning, auto headlights, keyless entry and LED headlights.
You could argue that the XCeed is filling yet another unnecessary niche between hatchback and fully fledged SUV but for once it’s a compromise between two segments that actually works. It’s better looking, more comfortable and (slightly) more practical than the hatch but better to drive, cheaper to buy and run and less ostentatious than a full-on SUV. In fact, I think it might be my favourite flavour of Ceed.