By Jonathan Crouch
Back in 2019, Kia's XCeed gave the Korean maker yet another option to offer buyers seeking a stylish, well-equipped compact SUV. At the time, this bulging segment didn't really need any further options but Kia was determined that the Ceed family should offer one and engineered this smart Crossover contender with characteristic thoroughness. Here, we look at the pre-facelift 2019-2022-era version of this model as a used buy.
Following its launch in 2019, the fourth member of Kia's Ceed family of models, the XCeed, proved to be a key design for this growing Korean brand, benefitted from growing European customer preferences for Crossovers of this kind. It competed in a crowded market of course, but Kia tried hard here to tick all the boxes for someone in search of a fashionable family hatch-based SUV.
When the current third generation Ceed family of models was being planned, this body style didn't figure in the company's thinking. But then the SUV / Crossover market exploded - to the point where by 2019 it accounted for over half of all compact cars sold in Europe. Within that segment, the biggest current growth area was for overtly style-conscious family hatch-based models and by 2018 the Korean maker had realised that it didn't actually have much that directly fitted that remit. So the XCeed was developed in record time, positioned slightly differently from the Sportage as a 'CUV' ('Crossover Utility Vehicle') and produced in numbers undergirding an expectation that it would be the Ceed model line's best selling variant.
Given that background, you might expect a bit of a rush job here - essentially a Ceed hatch with body cladding and a bit of extra attitude. But more than that was delivered. Bar the doors, every body panel was new, there was a raised ride height with suspension changes to match and the interior showcased Kia's latest infotainment technology. To suit the current zeitgeist, there was a plug-in version too (announced in 2020). In 2021, the 1.4 T-GDi petrol engine was replaced by a 1.5 T-GDi unit. The XCeed sold in this form until late 2022, when it got a mild facelift and the engine range was slimmed down to just the PHEV version and a conventional 1.5 T-GDi petrol unit. It's the pre-facelift 2019-2022-era models we look at here.
What You Get
Increasingly, this is now what private buyers want to see a Focus or Astra-class C-segment family hatch looking like. Yes, the ordinary models still sell in their hundreds of thousands, which is why throughout this XCeed's life cycle, Kia still offered one in the form of its conventional Ceed hatch, but if you had a choice, you'd probably opt for a more Crossover-orientated design like this XCeed every time.
Not much was carried over from other variants - only the doors - in the creation of this sporty, swept-back silhouette. Design Chief Gregory Guillaume re-imagined what a Ceed hatch could be from an 'Urban Crossover' perspective, sculpting a relatively long bonnet and a steeply angled fastback tailgate. And extending the overhangs over the conventional hatch - by 25mm at the front and by 60mm at the rear. It's all rather smart and, in our view, actually very similar to what you'd get from a much pricier premium-badged model in this segment from this era like, say, an Audi Q3 Sportback. In keeping with the Crossover remit, there are silver roof rails, plus black plastic-clad side sills and wheel arches, but nothing too heavy handed. Ride height increased too over an ordinary Ceed hatch - to 172mm on base versions with 16-inch wheels, or to 184mm if your XCeed rides on larger 18-inch rims.
Getting in is slightly easier to do than it would be in an ordinary Ceed because the seat hip point has been raised by 44mm, making it easier to step in and out. Behind the wheel, the raised ride height does mean you sit a fraction higher, but the feel isn't especially commanding; if you want that, you'll prefer the brand's more SUV-like Sportage model. Typical Crossover buyers who want an easy transition from something more conventional may not mind this. And they should be right at home with Kia's contemporary cabin architecture, which sees this sculptured centre console angled slightly towards the driver. It's just a pity that the ambiance of mainstream models like this one is a bit dark and dour. The priciest variants show how different and more interesting this cabin could be but unfortunately, brighter trimming packages weren't offered further down the range. In compensation, both the ergonomics and the driving position here are difficult to fault. And, providing you can avoid entry-level spec, you get an excellent 10.25-inch 'Touchscreen Satellite Navigation with Telematics' centre-dash touchscreen. This has an incorporated eSIM chip that retrieves and updates all kinds of data as you drive.
In the rear, it feels much like a Ceed hatch, which, if you haven't tried one of those, means pluses and minuses. Space for your legs and head is only average by class standards. But knee room is aided by scalloped seatbacks and the notably low centre transmission tunnel means that if need be, it's easier to fit three adults in the back than it would be in some rivals. Unfortunately, there's nothing particularly clever provided for the bench; some cars in this class offer sliding seat bases; others give you reclining seat backs. There's none of that in this Kia. The boot is 426-litres in size in the conventional model, is accessed by a rather high loading lip but is deep and regularly-shaped. The PHEV version has a boot just 291-litres in size.
What to Look For
We had quite a lot of trouble finding anyone with a bad word to say about this XCeed. So it's just the usual stuff. Give the electrical systems a thorough test and make sure the central screen has had all its necessary map updates. Check the alloys for scuffs. The interior for child damage. And insist on a fully stamped-up service history. Previous Ceed model variants weren't great for paint quality, so check that. And if you're looking at the CRDi diesel, make sure the DPF Diesel Particular Filter hasn't clogged up with too much suburban and town driving. Careful questioning of the seller's driving habits should help here.
(approx based on a 2020 XCeed 1.0 T-GDi ex VAT) An air filter will be priced at around £12 and an oil filter will sit in the £4 bracket. For a pair of front brake discs, you're looking at paying in the £75 to £92 bracket, with a pair of rear discs costing up to around £65. A pair of front brake pads are around £22-£66, while a pair of rear pads sit in the £22-£43 bracket for a set. A wiper blade can cost anything between £2-£25.
On the Road
Somehow, Kia managed to make this XCeed the most comfort-orientated member of the Ceed family - which is surprising because higher-riding SUV-orientated models usually have to be set up more firmly than the conventional hatchbacks they're based upon. The Korean engineers didn't have to do that here thanks to the installation of clever hydraulic bump stops integrated into the front suspension, which improve both comfort and control. You'll particularly notice the difference this makes when thumping through pot holes and going over speed humps. All of this the Korean maker has managed to achieve without significantly adding to the level of body roll exhibited by other Ceed body styles. A bit more steering feel through the bends would be nice, but there's no shortage of traction and basic composure, thanks to a stiff K2 chassis and a torque vectoring system that through quicker turns lightly dabs the front brakes to help tuck the nose in and ease you urgently through the corner.
A typical customer of this would be-SUV won't care much about that. Or about that fact that as usual with cars in this class, there's no 4WD option and off road capability is pretty much non-existent, though ride height of this body style is raised slightly - to 184mm if your XCeed rides on larger 18-inch rims. Of more relevance to likely buyers will be the engine options on offer - with the pre-facelift model, there were five. If your focus is on petrol power, then it's quite likely you'll be looking at the base three cylinder 118bhp 1.0-litre T-GDi unit - or possibly at the 138bhp four cylinder 1.4-litre T-GDi powerplant you'll need if you want the option finding an XCeed with the brand's 7-DCT auto gearbox. There are two 1.6 CRDi diesel variants, a base 114bhp unit and the 134bhp version, which manages up to 64.2mpg on the WLTP combined cycle and 116g/km of NEDC-rated CO2 emissions. If you want to do better, you'll need the PHEV plug-in derivative, based around a 1.6-litre GDI petrol engine and a 6-speed DCT auto gearbox. This uses a 44.5kW electric motor mated to a 8.9 kWh battery pack that, when fully charged, can deliver a 29.8 mile WLTP-rated electric driving range.
Life is certainly a great deal more interesting for someone wanting to buy a family hatchback-sized car these days. Say what you like about the current SUV craze but it's certainly delivered up much more of a 'want one' factor when it comes to the purchase of a 'C-segment' model like this. And the Kia XCeed delivered this with the kind of smart styling you'd normally expect to have to stretch to a premium brand to get. Of course, there are Crossover buyers who'll want more powerful engines or a classier cabin than this car can offer. But, we'd suggest, quite a number will be very satisfied with this Kia's impressive quality, well-judged practicality and sensible pricing. True, the asking figures may be a little higher than you might expect from a South Korean manufacturer, but don't judge them until you've tried the product, a confident design from a very confident brand.
If you can afford the asking prices, there's little else not to like here. Unless, rather unreasonably, you're looking for a Crossover suitable for offroad trails. Or one capable of exactly matching the sharp tarmac handling you'd get from a lighter, lower-set conventional family hatch. Likely XCeed buyers won't have these expectations. They'll like the looks; they'll appreciate how it's so easy to switch into this car from something more ordinary; and they'll value the exemplary reliability and warranty back-up. In short, if you're shopping for this kind of car, there are plenty of reasons why you might want this one.