Family Value: 2018 Kia Ceed Driven

There was a time when Kia was known for selling tough but somewhat agricultural cars that appealed for their straightforward approach, but not their finesse. Then in 2006 it launched the original cee’d and kickstarted a mission to completely transform how its brand was perceived.

It is a sign of how fast things have moved in the past 12 years that the arrival of the all-new, third-generation ceed (now SEO optimised and minus the apostrophe) is as noteworthy as that of any other family car save perhaps the Volkswagen Golf. For these days not only do we expect good value, but also true progress, with the end result being a car that’s as good as – if not better than – the established European players. Expectations are high, but does the 2018 ceed deliver?

THE SAME BUT DIFFERENT
Make no mistake, much progress has indeed been made, even if the final product does still feel like an evolutionary step. Perceived quality has improved, there’s more space inside, the styling is bang up to date and there’s much talk of newfound ride and handling finesse. Plus of course as with any Kia there’s the promise of value for money and long-term peace of mind to factor in.

That is not, however, to say that the ceed is a bargain. Indeed, these days it costs roughly the same as many of its established rivals such as the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Hyundai i30.

EQUIPMENT LEVELS
A large part of the value instead comes from Kia’s seven-year, 100,000-mile (and fully transferable) warranty, the continued existence of which underlines how durable these cars are proving to be.

Plus, the cars continue to be extremely well equipped as standard. For example, currently the ceed range kicks off with ‘2’ specification, which one could argue is all that’s needed. There’s alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, DAB radio, a reversing camera, autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist.

Move up the range and the wheels grow from 16 inches to 17, the wiper operation becomes automatic, the basic air-conditioning turns into dual-zone climate control, the touchscreen grows to 8 inches and includes sat-nav with full European mapping, and additional safety features such as blind spot monitors and cruise control with stop and go are added.

Top-spec First Edition models meanwhile include leather seats, a sunroof, LED headlights, a heated steering wheel and keyless entry.

THE DRIVE
Although a plug-in hybrid model is due at a later date, to begin with the new ceed’s engine line-up is entirely conventional. There’s a 1.0-litre, 118bhp three-cylinder turbo petrol, a 1.4-litre, 138bhp turbo petrol, and a new 1.6-litre diesel with 114bhp. You can have any engine with a six-speed manual gearbox, but only the two larger units can be ordered with an auto.

We’ve so far tested a manual with the diesel engine. It’s a pleasingly gutsy unit with good mid-range pulling power (0-62mph takes 10.6 seconds), and is capable of returning a real world 60mpg. If you want a diesel family hatchback (which, admittedly, fewer people do these days), the ceed is a solid choice, although the unusually long gearing won’t be to all tastes.

Where this car has really made progress compared with its predecessors though is in the way it handles. Previous ceeds were a little ordinary in this department, but not any more. The steering is now quicker to respond and much better weighted, the body control is improved without harming ride comfort, and the chassis feels stable and balanced. While still not quite class leading as a driver’s car, the ceed is certainly much nearer the front of the pack than before.

THE VERDICT
With prices starting from £18,295, the ceed is actually no cheaper to buy outright than many of its rivals. But that’s not to say it doesn’t still represent good value, whether buying outright or paying monthly.

As always with Kia, a large part of that comes down to the warranty, which provides long-term peace of mind, and there’s no denying that equipment levels are generous. However, what really makes this latest generation of ceed stand out compared with its predecessors is the way it drives, feeling much better suited to British roads. What we have here, then, is a Kia you can buy with your heart as well as your head.

Price: Kia ceed range from £18,295, car as tested from £19,545 (1.6 CRDi 6-speed manual ‘2’)
Power: 114bhp @ 4,000rpm
0-62mph: 10.6 seconds
Top speed: 118mph
Fuel economy: 74.3mpg (on test 61mpg)

KIA CEED HISTORY
Kia ceed Mk1

Transformed the way people thought about Kia. Extremely well built, generously equipped and aggressively priced, the original ceed was tempting enough already, but the introduction of the Government’s scrappage scheme in 2009 made it a positive bargain.
Search for used examples of the first-generation Kia ceed on CarGurus

Kia ceed Mk2
One of Kia’s primary objectives with the second-generation ceed of 2012 was to bring it into line with the company’s bold new styling direction. Although not as cheap as its predecessor, value for money still played a big part, while the GT version ushered in Kia’s first attempt at a hot hatch. With many Mk2 ceeds still covered under their original seven-year warranty, they can make excellent used buys (although do always check servicing has been carried out as stipulated by Kia).
Search for used examples of the second-generation Kia ceed on CarGurus

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