South Korean car producer, Kia, has a lot of confidence in itself – and rightly so if its most up-to-date products are anything to go by. The recently introduced Stinger has taken on major German players with real sincerity, and now the newest model out of its line-up, the all-new Kia Ceed, is here. Three generations on, the family-centred hatchback has, in terms of interior quality, reached the illustrious domain dominated by the Volkswagen Golf. In most ways, the new Kia Ceed, finally without the eccentric apostrophe in its given name, is also good enough to go head to head with the likes of the contemporaneous Ford Focus and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
But that’s no surprise. Since the first Kia cee’d was assembled at Kia’s Slovakian manufacturing plant in 2006, more than 1.28 million models have been made. The new name – cee’d becoming Ceed – strengthens its status as a car for the Community of Europe, with European Design. Over 640,000 second-generation Ceeds were produced from 2012 to 2018. As it enters its third incarnation, the Ceed is anticipated to account for an even more significant percentage of Kia’s European transactions.
Indeed, Emilio Herrera, Chief Operating Officer for Kia Motors Europe, told me:
‘After more than ten years on sale, the Ceed continues to underpin the brand's growth across Europe. Like its predecessors, the new car has been engineered and designed for European buyers, fine-tuned thanks to the feedback from an expanding Kia customer base. Over 1.3 million Ceeds have been built here since 2006, and the new variant builds on everything that owners loved about earlier generations.’
‘The Ceed offers a contemporary, recognisable design, something which has been a strength for the model since its inception. Advanced new technologies make the Ceed more comfortable, safe and convenient to use. Meanwhile, a range of new powerplants and European-tuned ride and handling will make it more enjoyable and engaging to drive. And Kia's seven-year warranty provides unrivalled reassurance to customers about the quality of their new vehicle.’
So, let’s look at the car in more detail. Appearance-wise, it is wider and sits lower to the ground than the retiring model, and there is a spicy Stinger-like edge to it. The fresh Kia Ceed’s sleek lights and broader grille also help to give the car a nifty presence.
This new Kia is as lengthy as the exiting cee’d, so there is still civilised room for four fully grown occupants. A fifth person could just about squeeze in there, too. As a matter of fact, the hatchback has officially got the best-in-class-rear-shoulder room. In addition, the rear overhang has grown, meaning that the reintroduced Ceed has a bigger and better boot. It now has a cargo volume of 395 litres, which is superior to the Volkswagen Golf’s 380-litre effort. Funnily enough, the retreating cee’d had the same load space figure as the Volkswagen. The cabin has also been given a methodical restyling so that it fits in homogeneously with the rest of the South Korean marque’s ensemble.
As alluded to earlier, the interior quality of the spanking new Kia Ceed is indisputably on an equal footing with the Volkswagen Golf’s. The switchgear feels very well manufactured, and soft-to-the-touch materials sheathe the doors and dashboard. There is also a bright and simple-to-use touchscreen installed at the top of the dash.
I was given the keys to the 1.4-litre T-GDi Ceed in ‘3’ specification. Kia surmises this petrol driven variant will be the most popular-selling Ceed in the United Kingdom. And I can see why. It is pithy, uncomplicated to drive and very quiet, too. On that note, the suppression of noise was a real focus during the car’s development. Compared with the old cee’d, the fresh model features thicker dashboard padding, a new insulation layer under the carpet and sound-absorbent insulation around the rear wheel arches.
Furthermore, reshaped windscreen mouldings and more comprehensive sealing around the Ceed’s doors have helped reduce wind noise. The model is, therefore, quieter than its forerunner at every engine speed, with road noise at 37mph reduced from 67.5 to 66.5 dB. Wind noise is also slashed, with 63 dB registering in the cabin at 68mph, compared with 64 dB in the last model.
My Ceed housed the seven-speed automatic gearbox, which works very agreeably, but there’s also an exceptionally smooth manual gearbox. If you don’t mind a bit of left hand and foot work, then changing gears manually will save you from splashing out around £800 more. But perhaps most significantly, the state-of-the-art Kia Ceed in this guise is economical, returning up to 50mpg on an average run.
The only potential bug in the ointment when it comes to the latest Kia Ceed is that it is not as cushioned as some cars. This isn’t really a criticism, just an observation - and it is not a big deal by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just that the East Asian automaker’s modern K2 platform makes things quite firm. There is no doubt it gives the car an athletic ride, particularly on 17-inch alloy wheels, and the hatchback stays outstandingly level in corners, but it doesn’t always feel truly chilled-out, even at cruising speeds. Mind you; this is a good thing if you are predisposed towards sportier riding family cars.
There are no gripes from me about the all-new Kia Ceed’s steering, though – it is razor-sharp and weights up pleasingly. Undeniably, it encourages driving confidence, and you feel at home behind the wheel very quickly. In many ways, the latest Kia Ceed is dynamically regenerated compared with its precursor.
This, as well as admirable space and a well-bolted-together cabin, is what you need from a family-focused hatchback. It is judiciously priced, too – with this model, dipped in standard paint and kitted out with an automatic ‘box, priced from £20,795 on the road.