We review the 2019 Kia Ceed Hatch

We review the 2019 Kia Ceed Hatch
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The Car.co.uk verdict:

4.4

Kia might not have the household name appeal that you get with Ford, Vauxhall, or VW – but the Korean manufacturer has taken a fair-size chunk of the market share – and the Ceed has been a big part of making that happen.

The Ceed has dropped the awkward apostrophe out of its name – but the everything that’s made it great lives on; outstanding equipment levels, world-class safety performance, and attractive styling that puts the car on a par with the best in the class. The trouble is, the Ceed doesn’t quite handle as well as the opposition – but with such exceptional prices, should we care?
 

Pros

  • Excellent value cars – even at the lowest specification level
  • Class-leading safety equipment as standard
  • 7-year, 100,000-mile warranty – the best available on any new car

Cons

  • The Ceed’s handling just isn’t as good as many rivals
  • Options are limited; you simply have to step up trim levels to get more kit
  • Fairly sparse choice of engines and power levels

At a glance

  • Looks
  • Practicality
  • Engine & power
  • Reliability
  • Equipment & options
  • Interior
  • The drive
  • The cost
  • Safety
  • Why buy

Looks

4.5 out of 5

Attractive family hatches – even at entry-level

It might not have a name that’s synonymous with cutting-edge design, but the Kia Ceed does a great job of looking every bit as smart as the Golfs and Focuses it shares the road with.

With Kia, entry-level specification never feels lacking. In fact, it just doesn’t feel entry-level at all. That couldn’t be truer than when you cast your eyes over the ‘2’ – the most basic Ceed in the range. The 2 comes complete with nice-looking 16-inch alloys, a chrome-trimmed painted black grille, body-coloured mirrors, handles, and aerial – and a chrome side-window surround that’s usually reserved for mid-to-upper spec models with other manufacturers.

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that the Ceed ‘Blue Edition’ – sitting just above the 2 in the range – doesn’t look too far off being a top-spec car. Kia combines a nice-looking deep metallic paint with some handsome diamond-cut alloys – and the result’s really quite striking. Of course, if you do work your way up the range, you’ll find 18-inch alloys, contrasting accents here and there, and some re-styled skirts – but you never feel like a poor relative in even the most basic cars.

Kia has always made it clear that they’re trying to make excellent, affordable vehicles – and when you compare the looks of the Ceed to other manufacturer’s price-equivalents, it’s fair to say that they’re doing a brilliant job.

Practicality

4 out of 5

An excellent family vehicle with a real eye for detail

Aside from the cavernous Skoda Octavia, the Ceed stands up to virtually every other family hatch in terms of its practicality. As a rear passenger, the Kia Ceed hatch’s dimensions allow for reasonable leg room, and headroom is ample even if you’ve 6-foot plus. Getting 3 adults in the back is a bit of a squeeze for the middle passenger, but a virtually flat floor makes it do-able if needed.

The back of the Ceed is a nicer place to be that a lot of other hatches. When you combine the light headlining with the light that comes in from the windows, you don’t ever have to worry about feel claustrophobic. 

In the boot, you’ll find 395-litres of space – more than you’ll get in a Golf or a Focus – and this allows for plenty of luggage if you’re heading to the airport, or ample room for buggies, golf clubs, and shopping if you’re not jetting off. The cabin space isn’t totally flat if you lay the 60/40 rear seats down – but it’s not far off – and there’s a handy adjustable-height boot floor that means you can squeeze a little more in, or reduce the boot lip. 

While there’s nothing that really stands out as a practicality innovation with the Ceed, Kia has simply done a great job of making every practicality point good. The seats drop easily from the boot, there are plenty of hooks and tether points, there’s a space-saver wheel under the floor, ISO-fix points are easy to get to, and there are plenty of good-sized cubby-holes around the place. 

Engine & power

5 out of 5

Don’t let engine size worry you – the 1.0-litre is a capable little powerplant

There are 4 engines to choose from for your Kia Ceed; a 1-litre, turbocharged petrol; a 1.4-litre, turbocharged petrol; a 1.6-litre diesel, and, if you’re going for the sportier, top-of-the-range Ceed ‘GT’ – a lively 1.6-litre turbo petrol unit.

Don’t let a lack of displacement put you off driving the smallest of the petrol engines – the 1-litre produces an admirable 118bhp, and never feels underpowered, even if it does take a little while to work its way up to 60mph. If you’d like a little more overtaking power, the 1.4 does a good job of that, with 138bhp – whereas the diesel matches the 1-litre for speed but returns a claimed 65-70mpg.

If you’d like something that’s got a bit more poke, the 1.6 T-GDi unit that’s exclusive to the top spec GT model provides 201bhp and will propel you to 60mph in a not-too-shabby 7.2-seconds. The GT doesn’t quite rival the Golf GTi in the performance hatch stakes, but it’s not far off, and it’s significantly cheaper than its German counterpart.

Reliability

4.5 out of 5

Excellent reliability stats and the best warranty you’ll find

It’s hard to find any fault with the Kia Ceed’s reliability. Although the redesigned Ceed has only been on our roads for a short while, previous versions of the car have all done well, with limited problems reported from owners. Kia itself is considered one of the best manufacturers of UK vehicles from a reliability point of view too – generally rated in the top 5 marques wherever you look.

Kia’s 100,000 mile, 7-year warranty is great news for any Ceed driver, and the fact that you can transfer it between owners is another huge bonus. It’s nice to know that solid Korean reliability is backed up with such a good care package, should you need it.

Equipment & options

4.5 out of 5

Looking for a fully-loaded family hatch? You’re in the right place

The Kia Ceed hatch’s spec is genuinely impressive at any level. As well as the exterior touches we’ve already talked about; the standard ‘2’ car comes with front fog lamps, a 6-speaker audio system, air con, and a 7-inch screen - sporting an infotainment system that supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Impressively, the screen also flicks to a reversing camera when you’re travelling backwards; a very rare feature on base-spec cars. ‘2’ cars also come with forward collision avoidance assist; applying the brakes if the car detects an obstacle – and cruise control to keep things comfortable on the motorway.

If you bump your spec up to the ‘Blue Edition’, you’ll build on the ‘2’ car with 17-inch alloys, a larger 8-inch touchscreen with sat nav, a part faux-leather interior with passenger seat adjustment, and LED headlights – and ‘3’ adds privacy glass, rear parking sensors, auto wipers, and dual-zone climate control.

‘First Edition’ cars are the next step up the spec ladder, adding a JBL speaker package, smart cruise control, heated steering wheel and seats, and a smart park assist – and ‘GT-Line’ cars get a dual exhaust and a smart keyless entry and start/stop system. ‘GT-Line S’ adds a rather nice black-leather and suede-effect interior and a big sunroof – although it’s worth mentioning that this limits headroom – so you’ll need to check how comfortable you are in higher-spec cars if you’re taller than average.

At the top of the Ceed range is the sporty ‘GT’ – and while the spec doesn’t differ a great deal from that of the ‘GT-Line S’ – you do get access to the sportiest engine available, elevating the Ceed into a capable little warm hatch.

Interior

4 out of 5

Well-designed and well put-together, the Ceed interior doesn’t disappoint

As the driver of a Ceed, you get a decent range of adjustment – both from the wheel and seat, so you’ll find Kia’s versatile family hatch a comfortable place to be, whether you’re heading for the supermarket, or doing serious motorway miles. Around you, the dash and centre console feel premium – they’re trimmed in soft-touch materials, and everything feels good and solid.

The infotainment system lives in a 7-inch screen on the standard ‘2’ car – but suits the surroundings a little better on ‘Blue Edition’ cars and above, where it’s in an 8-inch screen that occupies the full space between the dash air-vents. It’s nice that Kia sticks with some physical shortcut buttons surrounding the screen too – as it can be fiddly trying to find your way around a screen without taking your eyes from the road.

If you prefer to drive with empty pockets, you’ve got a range of trays and cubby-holes in which you can stash phones, wallets, change, and plenty of other bits and pieces – and cup holders are well-positioned to limit interference with your elbows when you’re changing gear or resting your hand on the shifter.

The soft-touch materials and solid build quality continue into the back of the car too, passengers have plenty of space, and, assuming you’ve only got 1 or 2 people in the back, there’s a sturdy armrest with a couple of cup holders too. All-in-all, the Ceed is a nice car to spend some time in – and is easily as well-built as the Fords and Hyundai’s that make up a big chunk of the competition.

The drive

4.5 out of 5

Not as much emphasis on handling as you might find with a Focus or Golf

Jump in a Ceed and you’ll almost certainly feel like Kia has got the basics dead right. Visibility is good, the steering feels nicely weighted and sharp, and both the clutch and gear-change feel positive. In truth though, the Ceed falls a bit short of the driving experience you can expect from a Focus or Golf – and it’s mostly to do with the way the car handles.

Push the Kia into a corner and the grip is there – but you don’t really get much feedback from the steering. The car goes where you’d expect it to, you perhaps just don’t feel quite as connected as you do in a Ford or VW – and that doesn’t inspire confidence.

In reality, this isn’t a ‘driver’s car’, but 95% of people who are going to be driving a Ceed probably aren’t looking for performance, so it’s hard to say that Kia has really got anything wrong – instead, the company’s really just catering for a market who are more interested in comfort, purchase price, and running costs than they are about razor-sharp handling.

If comfort is high on your wish-list, you won’t go wrong with a Ceed. Long distance driving is relaxing – and the 1-litre, 118bhp petrol engine never really feels over-stretched. There’s a little road noise from the stock tyres, but it’s not going to cause any headaches. The diesel option in the Ceed provides a similar driving experience to the 1-litre petrol unit – and, for a bit of extra go, the 1.4 petrol engine delivers – but all three standard engines stop short of offering anything like sporty performance.

If you do want something that’s got a bit of heart, the ‘GT’ car isn’t a bad prospect. With a touch over 200bhp and an improved suspension set-up, it still makes for a very practical motorway car – but feels just that little bit more positive when you’re throwing it around corners.

The cost

3.5 out of 5

Cost-effective and good value, all the way through the range

There’s no other way to put it; the Ceed is great value for money. The thing is, a base-specification Kia doesn’t really compare to many other manufacturer’s base-spec cars – because ‘2’ cars are so generously loaded – yet they maintain a very competitive price.

A ‘2’ trimmed Kia Ceed hatch’s price tag will be £18,600 with the 1-litre T-GDi engine; where you’d need to look at £22,000 ‘Match’ level cars if you wanted the same kind of equipment from a Golf. Similar can be said of the Focus, with £20,000 ‘Zetec’ trimmed cars still coming up a bit short of what the ‘2’ offers.

There’s still plenty of value to be had as you climb the range too, ‘GT-Line’ cars start at just £21,840 – and while the ‘ST-Line’ Focus has a similar appeal for a similar price, a Golf GT will see you parting with almost £25,000 for a spec that’s close.

Sure, the Focus and Golf are both slightly better cars to drive, but crisp handling doesn’t represent value for everyone – and the Ceed is designed for economical mass appeal. If you’re looking for a well-equipped car at a reasonable price, the Ceed needs to be on your shopping list.

Safety

5 out of 5

Safety at the heart of it's design

At this stage, you’re well aware the Kia have shoe-horned plenty of great equipment into each variation of the Ceed – and safety equipment is very much part of that.

As standard, you can expect 6 airbags, auto emergency braking, driver attention warnings, lane keeping assistance, and high-beam assistance. This kind of equipment is virtually unrivalled outside Kia, and there’s even more further up the range – with pedestrian detection on manual cars from the ‘3’ upwards – and available as an option on the ‘2’.

Kia has also just introduced Lane Following Assist on the Ceed too. Rather than just alert the driver to their wandering car, Lane Following Assist with monitor the road markings and adjust the steering to keep the car on the right track – as well as bringing in elements of adaptive cruise control to handle acceleration and braking.

This latest Ceed doesn’t have a Euro NCAP rating as yet – but each of its predecessors has scored 5 stars – so we’ve got no reason to believe the same won’t be true of this recent car too.

Why buy

4.5 out of 5

Two main things separate the Kia from its competitors

If you’re thinking about buying a Kia Ceed, you need to think about 2 things; price, and handling – because they’re the things that set it apart from its rivals; price for better, handling for worse. If you’d like a car that handles better, you’ll want to try the Focus or the Golf – but, if you want a car that’s packed with equipment, even at the most budget-friendly level, the Ceed should be top of your list.

The ‘2’ specification car really stands out as the first one to consider, value is nothing short of astounding – and it actually makes you question whether or not you need to be looking at sportier models at all. Of course, value doesn’t stop with the car, the 7-year warranty you’re buying into also adds a huge feather to the Ceed’s cap.

The Ceed might not be the very best car in its class, but it’s a pleasure to drive at a leisurely pace, and you won’t ever find yourself wishing you had more equipment as an owner. The Ceed hasn’t taken the crown as the UK’s favourite hatchback just yet, but it’s getting stronger all the time.