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First Drive

First Drive: Kia Xceed PHEV

The story:
Kia has extended its reach of plug-in hybrid vehicles to its Ceed lower medium line-up, with both the Ceed SW estate and the faux-crossover Xceed getting PHEV technology.
Category:Lower medium
Key rival:Kia Niro
KIA XCEED 1.6 GDI PLUG-IN HYBRID 3
Price:£30,640
MPG:201.8 mpg
Emissions:32g/km
On sale:Now

The rapidly-expanding number of plug-in hybrid models available to fleets has a couple of new Kias to add to its ranks, with both the Ceed SW estate and the Xceed model driven here gaining PHEV powertrains that combine 1.6-litre petrol engine and 8.9kWh battery for cars capable of up to 36 miles of battery-only running, according to the official figures.

The Xceed is Kia’s half-way house between hatchback and crossover models, and more than just a slightly raised and plastic-clad hatchback. Its more coupe-like styling makes for a better-looking car than the regular five-door, helped by the more off-roader styling details and higher ride height.

The official range figure being over 30 miles puts the Xceed in the 10% BiK band for this year, and in the real world something in the region of 27 miles was easily achieved. The drivetrain switches fairly seamlessly between powertrains, but isn’t always the most refined package when the engine is running. The ride is also a touch keen to communicate ripples and minor road imperfections.

First Drive- July 2020-Kia Xceed- Image 1On the inside there’s a large dial to show how far to push before the engine will kick in to aid the battery, but the read-out from the menus is a little on the small side and it’s obvious that the PHEV is an extension of the Ceed range and not a bespoke model.

Also worthy of note is the reduced boot size to allow for the battery packaging, with a hefty 135 litres being lost, taking the car down to 291 litres. It’s shallow and pokey for a car that’s otherwise big and practical enough to be used as an only car in a household. Rear space, for example, is more than adequate in terms of legroom, though headroom is cosy thanks to the more coupe-like roofline compared to the regular hatch or estate.

One of the biggest issues for the Xceed PHEV is where it sits within Kia’s line-up. It’s the middle of three PHEVs, not on price as it’s the cheapest of the three, but in terms of having the more practical and utilitarian Ceed SW on one side and the Niro, an actual crossover rather than this crossover-hatch hybrid, on the other. Though more expensive, the Niro has a lower cost per mile for those that buy outright thanks to its better residual value. The Xceed is arguably the best-looking of the trio, but it’ll come down to whether the customer is after practicality, SUV looks or something in between. Kia is expecting the Xceed to be its biggest-selling model within the Ceed range, so its good looks will find plenty of homes if the prediction is accurate.

PHEV rivals from outside the brand include the Mini Countryman and, soon, Renault’s Captur, with more to be added as plug-in hybrids become more commonplace through the next few months and years.

paul barker

The verdict

The Xceed looks good and the PHEV powertrain makes for a tax-efficient and, if managed properly to maximise EV running, cost-efficient package. But the reduced boot space is noticeable, and those wanting a practical PHEV should maybe look at the Ceed SW.