► It's another Korean urban crossover
► Joins the hatch, estate and shooting brake
► Bridges the gap to the Sportage, too
Holy niche-filling exercise Batman! Kia's XCeed is - shock - a crossover. It aims at offering something for everyone, assuming that everyone is after a tall-ish hatchback. Which, looking at the bestselling cars list, is correct.
The idea behind the XCeed is that it drives like a regular hatchback but offers a bit more practicality, and a bit more desirability than a run-of-the-mill Ceed.
So, what’s the point of the XCeed?
It's another member of the already pretty large Ceed family, alongside the regular hatch (Ceed), estate (Ceed Sportswagon) and less practical estate (ProCeed). All of these cars offer similar engines and driving experiences - but are aimed at different people.
The XCeed bridges the gap between the dour Ceed and mumsy Sportage, while also being ever-so-slightly different to the Stonic too.
That means it gets more ground clearance than the hatch – and even the Sportage – some black plastic bits, roof rails and a more slinky look to appeal to those coupe-SUV buyers. It’s pleasing to see it’s a bit more than just a Ceed on stilts though, with enough changes made to the exterior look to make it feel like a different model.
Tell me more about the engine specs
Most powerful for the UK will be a 138bhp 1.4-litre turbo tested here – we miss out on versions with the Ceed GT’s eager 201bhp 1.6. Still: the 1.4 is a good fit in the XCeed, it's pretty punchy and doesn't sound entirely flat, while not being ruinously thirsty, either. The 1.4 is also the only engine in the UK available with Kia's rather good DCT automatic; shifts are super-smooth and there's little in the way of low-speed lurchiness you sometimes experience in other cars.
Alternatives to the 1.4 are a fruity 1.0-litre turbo with 118bhp that lowers the price of entry and a 1.6 CRDi diesel that's thrifty but far from quick and a tad grumbly. Both of these are, rather conveniently, better suited to a manual 'box to get the most out of them.
What’s it like to drive?
That the best-handling Ceed is in fact the more SUV-like is quite interesting. Kia has managed to almost crack that desire to create a car that looks like an SUV but still drives like a regular hatch. That's because, it arguably is still a regular hatch; despite being around 50mm taller than a normal Ceed, getting into the XCeed feels just as low as its not-clad-in-SUV-guff sibling, with the ability to lower the driver's seat to the floor only contributing to that feeling.
The suspension has been tweaked compared with regular Ceed models, and it manages to strike an excellent balance between feeling firm enough to feel surprisingly engaging in the bends, without thumping into holes in the road that shake through the whole car and your spine. It's sweetly set up, with even the XCeed's toppy spec very easily dealing with lumpy roads in the UK. A bit more feedback through the steering wheel wouldn’t go amiss, but the XCeed isn't exactly built for the Nurburgring is it?
Is it any different to a Ceed inside?
Despite Kia attempting Audi/BMW/Merc levels of niche-busting, few compromises have been made inside. The normal Ceed’s dash has been beautified with a few nicer materials and details on First Edition models, there’s still a big boot (bigger than the hatch), you can easily fit adults in the back and it’s very easy to get (and stay) comfy if you’re driving. The seats in particular are excellent, and a new set of digital dials and larger media screen available on the more well-specced end of the trim spectrum keep things current.
If you don’t go for the First Edition with its yellow stitching and quilted leather seats, it’s still a pleasant place inside. Those new screens make the biggest difference – the digital dials are clean and easy to fiddle with, with the only difference in design coming if you prod the Sport button. There's an updated media system housed in the central touchscreen; it looks a bit more upmarket, is still just as responsive but just looks a little crisper and packs more features into it.
Kia XCeed: verdict
The standard Kia Ceed hatch is already a very good family hatchback so, naturally, its crossover-ised sibling is just as good. The XCeed's interior material quality betters some key rivals, it's on the sweeter end of the spectrum to drive in this never-ending sea of faux-SUVs and is arguably the most technologically up-to-date Kia on sale.
If you don’t buy into the whole hatchbacks looking like SUVs craze, you’ll be just as happy with a regular Ceed or ProCeed. But when an SUV variant doesn't cost vastly more and isn't dynamically stymied by its dimensions compared to its hatchback compadre (when so many SUV rivals are), you should stand up and pay attention.
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