It’s surprising how many different things that we take for granted were stumbled upon through the annals of time rather than consciously invented. Corn flakes, Penicillin, matches, Velcro and even plastic as we know it were discovered unintentionally.
Many of their inventors no doubt played it cool – and Kia could just be being modest in dubbing the new XCeed ‘the Ceed that they didn’t intend to create’, in a car world where more or less all models have been crossed over so many times that someone’s bound to announce the blending of a 4x4, estate and cabriolet soon enough.
Kia must be beaming that, hot on the heels of creating the new Ceed in bog-standard hatchback and Sportswagon guises and then sketching the positively gorgeous ProCeed GT shooting brake, it’s been able to raid the family toolbox and apply its creative juices to produce the XCeed, which shares only its siblings’ front door panels.
Here at CarLeasingPeople we’re champions of mainstream motorists from graduate partygoers and parents with young children, to families who need to transport wheelchairs, and drivers seasoned enough to remember the days when owning a colour television was a luxury. In recent years, we’ve seen the whole spectrum of customers get all giddy about tippy-toed SUVs, partly fuelled by car manufacturer marketing, but once the next assortment of them has arrived, we can see the tide turning.
What does the Kia XCeed look like?
Sitting a little higher up is great in terms of visibility, but not if a set of stepladders feels like it’d come in handy, and boots raised too high off the ground are trickier to heave bulkier items into. Then there’s the styling, ‘brick-like’ seeming fashionable in many SUVs’ cases, but taller and squarer cars have the habit of leaning in corners and disappointing at the pump with scrooge-like MPG figures. Blame physics.
The XCeed is Kia’s happy medium solution, elevated but not an SUV, equipped with a decent boot but not an estate, draped in sporty coupe-like styling but not a 3-door, and endowed with a peppering of dynamism in its character while not riding on ironing board-like suspension. We think it’s much prettier to look at than the vanilla Ceed, especially down its flanks and at the rear where it gives similarly-proportioned premium Germans like the incumbent Mercedes GLA a run for their money and has echoes of former beauties like the Brera about it. The XCeed has a chunky, planted and fairly exciting vibe, even away from the yellow and other brighter paints of 3 trim and First Edition versions, and its relatively long bonnet and swept-back ‘fastback’ posterior attractively hide its extended front (25mm) and rear (60mm) overhangs and 26mm width difference over the Ceed hatchback.
With the exception of the breath-taking Stinger, Kia’s family face often errs on the unassuming side, but the brand’s ice cube LED daytime running lights on the XCeed don’t look dissimilar to Porsche’s ‘four-point’ quad DRLs, which is a big compliment. The satin chrome window surrounds are a nice touch, too, appearing classy rather than tacky, even if the shiny under-body cladding is all for show hence admittedly a trifle pointless. Kia wanted the XCeed to be a car that people are proud to park outside their homes and we think they’ve cracked it in the looks stakes. After all, the Audi Q2, BMW X2, Mazda CX-30 and VW T-Roc are flying off dealers’ and leasing companies’ shelves like mince pies at Christmas, with droves of other bandwagon-jumpers on the way like the SKODA Kamiq and all-new Ford Puma.
Thoughts on the XCeed’s interior after 400 miles
Inside the Kia XCeed, everything’s been hammered and screwed together very well with not a poorly-fitted piece of trim in sight or a rattle within earshot, the dashboard and seating lifted from its standard-height brethren. Sure, some of the plastics could look and feel nicer and the black cabin’s absence of little cockle-warming details could be perceived as a tad sombre, but the Koreans’ interiors are incredibly good nowadays and certainly nip at the heels of SEAT, SKODA and VW equivalents. Tested in entry-level ‘2’ trim, the conventional handbrake, simple instruments with needles, manually-adjustable seats, straightforward air conditioning and the need to turn the key in the barrel may appeal to drivers who prefer it fuss-free, and the standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display and operating system look and work perfectly well, with sat nav dished up through Android Auto or Apple CarPlay integration. It’s no real surprise that ‘2’-spec XCeeds don’t get Kia’s new UVO Connect data platform, but they deserve a pat on the back for fitting a reversing camera with guidelines as standard, and even the 7-speaker audio system sounds pretty decent.
Kids, teenagers and other gadget-wielding passengers will feel a little forlorn that no USB or other sockets are provided in the rear, which seems stingy, but the armrest does feature cupholders, the ISOFIX anchor points are integrated tastefully, and there are proper pockets on the seat-backs, much handier than nets. The door bins in the back are on the small side, but frontal storage is impressive with a very usable glovebox, centre console and bottle-friendly door bins. Some drivers and passengers may find the XCeed’s front seats on the firm side but the side support they offer is great for those with an exuberant driving style.
The back seats are adequate for children and anyone of average or more petite proportions, taller passengers struggling for legroom above all else, but at least the central seat’s usability is boosted by the floor lump only being shallow and the relatively large windows mean it’s not claustrophobic. The XCeed’s longer length compared to other Ceeds gives it a larger boot, up 31 litres to 426, with nice square sides, and although the load lip is quite high, it can be forgiven because of the variable boot floor. The XCeed’s a safe car, too, highlights including not just Kia’s excellent lane keep assist function but also high-beam assist as standard across all trim grades.
What’s the Kia XCeed 1.0 like to drive?
Driving the Kia XCeed on the road, the 118bhp 1.0 T-GDi engine is a great little performer, at least with one or two people on board. It’s a high-revving unit that likes being stoked to get the best out of it, helping it appeal to drivers on a budget who still want something a bit sporty. Except in agonisingly slow-moving traffic queues when they might prove slightly stiff and notchy respectively, the clutch and gearbox are nicely suited to the 1-litre powerplant, meaning that the frequently-required gear changes aren’t a chore, and there’s often a stimulating three-cylinder thrum to it. Having tested Kia’s 1.4-litre petrol engines before, the diddy but peppy 1-litre really did sell itself and returned 43ish mpg after almost 400 miles of often brisk and rorty driving, which is really rather impressive and matches the car’s WLTP figures. It’s just a shame that this version’s 140g/km CO2 emissions belches are blush-inducing compared to something like the SKODA KAROQ 1.0 TSI that lets out around 117g/km. Sat 44mm higher than other Ceeds, rutted farm tracks can be tackled with confidence in the XCeed, which also melts away the worry of approaching crests and troughs at speed while enjoying B-road blasts on Sunday mornings or whenever else takes one’s fancy.
Uniquely-tuned suspension incorporating Citroen-esque hydraulic rebound-stoppers on the front axle does indeed prevent the XCeed from bouncing uncomfortably as it settles after rapid compression, contributing to the car’s unexpectedly fun driving vibe on twisty roads. Sadly it feels too firm around town, though, thudding over speed-bumps and uneven surfaces, while the level of road noise kicked up at speeds over 50mph can be frustratingly intrusive at times, especially for a passenger on a call with the phone held to their ear. The only other detracting observation was the front wheels’ propensity to spin while exiting junctions and the like on damp surfaces, but the overall XCeed driving experience is very positive, boosted further by reassuringly tall tyres wrapped around 16” alloys, an excellently compact turning circle and comfortingly bright standard LED headlights.
Our verdict on the Kia XCeed ‘2’ 1.0 T-GDi
There’s little to dislike about Kia’s brand new model, the XCeed. It looks much more premium from the rear and sides than its £19,000 starting price tag may otherwise suggest. The interior may not be the last word in spaciousness or comfort but is solid, ergonomically effective and fairly well equipped even in ‘2’ trim, complete with a decent boot. Similarly, although the 1.0 T-GDi engine isn’t the greenest kid on the block, it has a fun streak to it and still delivers economy that will prevent forecourts from feeling too familiar.
With it possible for personal customers to lease a Kia XCeed 1.0 T-GDi ‘2’ for under £225 per month including VAT, Korea’s new Jack of all trades definitely has the mastery of a few and, design accident or not, represents a strong option for drivers across the whole spectrum.