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First Drive

First Drive: Kia Xceed

The story:
What do you call the raised suspension, plastic-clad, SUV-crossover version of the Kia Ceed? The Xceed of course. However, Kia hasn’t just raised the suspension and added plastic protection to a Ceed or Ceed estate, or even the Proceed, but instead designed a new body to go on the Ceed platform to give the car greater distinction from the Ceed range.
Category:Lower Medium
Key rival:Ford Focus Active
Kia Xceed 3 136hp 1.6 CRDi
MPG: 64.2mpg
On sale:Now

Kia hasn’t taken the easy route for its latest model, the Xceed, an SUV-crossover based on the Ceed hatchback. Where rivals have opted for the low-cost route by simply raising the suspension and adding plastic around the wheelarches of a hatch or estate, Kia has designed an all-new body shape including new LED headlights as standard.

The Xceed sits among the existing three Ceed shapes of five-door hatch, estate and sportier Proceed.

At first glance, it looks a lot like the Proceed has been down to the off-road gym, however, the Xceed is shorter, wider and taller, although it is longer than the five-door Ceed hatchback.

This means there’s more room in the boot (426 litres) than the hatch, but less than in the Proceed or the Ceed estate.

First Drive-25th September 2019-Kia Xceed-Image 6

The new higher suspension also means a greater ground clearance, up 44mm, over five-door hatch. This extra height is coupled with a generally softer set-up plus some additional tech to improve ride comfort over potholes and uneven ground. It all means the Xceed will better navigate rougher terrain such as high kerbs and large potholes than its sibling cars.

However, Kia hasn’t opted to change the car’s drive system. Power still goes through the front wheels and there isn’t even a clever traction-control system for added off-road grip, so don’t be fooled by the looks. In snow or slippery grass the Xceed will have no more traction than the rest of the Ceed range.

First Drive-25th September 2019-Kia Xceed-Image 4But the effort Kia’s engineers have put into the revised suspension works very well. The Xceed’s ride comfort is first-rate and is particularly good at absorbing larger road imperfections from potholes and speed bumps without noise or fuss in terms of kick-back through the steering. While Kia claims there’s no more body roll than in the rest of the Ceed range, the Xceed is not a sporty car and does suffer marginally greater roll if you’re on a twisty B-road. For the rest of the time, be that motorway or town driving, the Xceed is a very comfortable car.

Power comes from a range of two petrol engines (118hp 1.0-litre, 138hp 1.4-litre) and a 1.6-litre diesel in two power outputs (114hp and 136hp). The 114hp 1.6 diesel in the lower specification, which is fitted with smaller wheels and hits a CO2 output of 109g/km, is expected to be the company car best seller. The diesel is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox in the UK, however, it is light and accurate with a well-balanced clutch. Other models are available with an optional double-clutch automatic, which is smooth to change in Normal mode, and in Sport mode adds a faster kick-down and holds onto gears for longer.

Inside the Xceed, Kia has added a new infotainment and satellite-navigation system with connected car technology, plus a new digital dashboard.

Overall, the new looks, revised suspension and additional tech mean the Xceed gives Kia a much more interesting hatchback than the slightly staid-looking car on which it’s based. And it’s no surprise that Kia expects the Xceed to outsell the rest of the Ceed family combined.


Tristan Young

The verdict

The Xceed gives Kia a far more appealing car in the small family hatchback market. The looks alone see to this, but the softer suspension will work well on UK roads and the additional tech is a welcome bonus.