5 January 2020
The 2021 calendar is on the wall and I know the fat man is already long gone back to Lapland, but I’m still desperately holding out for one last, late, Christmas present.
I’ve got two weeks remaining of my time with the XCeed and it seems that my hope of the Kia’s average fuel economy breaking into three figures is unlikely to become fact.
To be fair, the writing was on the wall the week before Christmas and also most of the festive period. The first reason was three consecutive days of lengthy return journeys for work where I wasn’t able to charge at my destination. The result was that while I always left home with a full charge of 33 electric miles, the remainder of my outbound journey and all of the return was done with no charge at all. And, while past experience has shown that the Kia’s 1.6-litre petrol engine can still be surprisingly economical, it was always going to see my average go down rather than up.
The festive weather didn’t help either. Plummeting temperatures meant that even the numerous shorter journeys I did over Christmas and New Year (usually the PHEV’s best friend as they can be done largely on electric) were seeing the engine fire into life to keep the ancillaries warm (see previous reports).
Having said all that of course, we’re still averaging more than 90mpg, so I certainly can’t complain. And, thanks to the new lockdown, it seems that journeys of any kind in the immediate future might be thin on the ground…
15 December 2020
In my last report on the long-term Kia XCeed regarding the styling differences between hybrids and plug-in hybrids and their internal combustion engine counterparts, I forgot to include one crucial internal one – boot space.
For those models that offer both ICE and hybrid power, boot space is almost always going to be compromised – to the tune of 135 litres in the XCeed down to 291 litres – thanks to the accommodation of the batteries. So far it’s only proved a compromise in terms of sheer volume on a couple of occasions on family outings, although twice in the past month it’s been length rather than size that’s been crucial.
The first, when we bought ceiling coving that came in unwieldy three-metre long lengths. With the seats down, they wouldn’t fit the length of the car by about 4 inches (rather cleverly I hadn’t measured beforehand) and, again being the potential Mastermind candidate that I am, I hadn’t bought any bungee straps and the DIY shop had even sold out of string. Instead, I had to unleash my inner boy scout and use my shoelaces to secure the tailgate for the short ride home. Classy.
The next test of the Kia’s interior length was thankfully somewhat easier – Christmas tree shopping. This time, I did remember to pack a couple of bungee straps, although it was sod’s law that I didn’t actually need them, the tree sliding in easily and being rather shorter than three metres.
Both were a reminder though that while the XCeed sits slightly higher than the standard Ceed, it’s not actually any larger, so appearances can be deceptive.
Rather frustratingly, the recent colder weather has meant frequent engine use even in EV mode (see previous long term reports) which has seen our average mpg drop to 95.2mpg. Still, with plenty of longer journeys over the upcoming festive period we might hopefully address that back towards our three figure goal.
1 December 2020
Now is the discount of our winter tents – as many camping store have famously advertised. As stated before, the colder months have caused my long-term Kia XCeed’s engine to fire up pretty much every time I set off on a journey, even in fully electric mode.
However, they also mean that, it doesn’t take long for the Kia to get filthy. Having now lived out of London for almost a year, it’s something that I’ve had to learn. In London, cars don’t really get properly dirty. Well, they do, but in a slightly pernicious, slow-build-up-of-grime way that you don’t tend to notice until someone mistakes you for the local tramp.
Out of London though, it’s a very different matter. Here, cars do get properly dirty. And so quickly that I might as well superglue a sponge and bucket to my hands for the frequency with which their service is called upon (don’t try this at home kids).
The result is that I’ve developed an intimate knowledge of the XCeed’s design details (stop sniggering at the back) that made me think about how different the design of plug-in hybrids and electric cars are. After all, a lot is spoken about the internal, unseen packaging of cars that rely on battery-power, but little about how they look on the outside.
The XCeed is a perfect case in point. With smaller engines like the 1.6-litre in my Kia, there isn’t as much need for engine cooling, so the all-black front grille isn’t actually a grille at all, but a solid piece of plastic with diamond contouring. It still looks like a normal grille and I rather like it, but all the cooling is actually done from the lower section under the front number plate.
The same goes for the wheels. The same black diamond contouring from the grille is echoed here on the XCeed’s lovely alloys, but it’s here that you notice the effect of the energy regeneration for the battery. Because you’re not pushing the brake pedal anywhere near as often or as hard, any brake dust on the wheels is notable from its near total absence. The difference between the wheels on the Kia and our other household car, a humble VW Up, is clear to see.
As we further embrace battery-power in all new cars between now and 2030, so their designs will also change. Watch this space.
17 November 2020
After the rant of my previous report regarding the problems of fitting a charging point for our long-term Kia XCeed for my home, it was a tiny picture that might suggest a glimmer of hope.
Actually, it was a tiny part of a tiny picture. While taking a photo of the XCeed charging, I noticed the charging rate at the bottom of the display – 2.3kW – from a standard three-pin plug.
As my new Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown hairstyle will attest, I don’t have an intimate knowledge of household electrics, but even I know that 2.3kW isn’t far off 3kW – the rate of a slow charger charging point offered by Podpoint. Even better, a quick chat with a local electrician found that a 3kW charger could be easily fitted on a separate fuse spur and without the need to unloop our house from our neighbours or pull up our kitchen floor.
I realise that the excitement of a 3kW charger (rather than the usual 7kW) will probably have EV fans guffawing in their hairshirts, but I can live with the slower charging times and something is better than nothing, right? I may have progress at last.
6 November 2020
Forget Georgia, it’s been charging that’s been on my mind this month. Regular readers might remember that since moving house late last year, I’ve been attempting to get a charging point fitted to our new home.
Despite plenty of help from Podpoint, it’s been a rather long and winding road (to keep up the musical theme), not exactly sped up by lockdown. After literally months of chasing, I finally got an engineer visit from our electricity provider which confirmed my worst fears. Unusually for a detached house, our mains supply is looped with our neighbour, effectively meaning that both houses go through one cable out to the road and the mains supply.
Fitting a car charger on our house (or indeed theirs) could risk overloading the supply. The only answer is for our neighbours to unloop themselves by getting a new cable running to their home. It’s something that will have to happen eventually of course, but it’s hardly the kind of ideal conversation to improve neighbourly relations…
So it’s back to the drawing board and to Podpoint to find out whether I could possibly fit a reduced rate 3kW charging point rather than a usual 7kW one. In the meantime, I’m back to relying on a standard three-pin plug to charge our XCeed, which serves our needs perfectly well. It also got me wondering whether, much longer charging times accepted, it would even be possible to run a full-EV off a household socket?
Our XCeed thankfully comes with a three-pin plug charging cable as standard, but plenty of PHEVs and EVs charge extra for them. Some investigation has suggested that our home supply situation isn’t unusual, so widespread adoption of electrified cars could be a little tougher than politicians might think.
20 October 2020
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
I hate to mention the C word this early in the year, but there’s a distinct winter chill in the air and it’s having an effect on our long term Kia XCeed. Not so much that I’m in need of donations into my headwear as per the nursery rhyme, but no sooner had morning temperatures dropped into single figures than the XCeed’s engine has started automatically firing into life every time we press the starter button.
If we hadn’t already been used to this with our previous Hyundai Ioniq plug-in hybrid, we might be questioning it, but it’s still frustrating nonetheless, making you check whether the XCeed is still in EV mode. It’s due to multiple reasons, according to Kia’s engineers. It’s not only to turn the engine over when it’s cold, but it’s also to ensure there’s sufficient pressure and temperature in the brake lines and other safety systems. As the Kia isn’t fully electric, it’s still reliant on the engine for those functions.
Interestingly though, while the engine in the Ioniq would remain on for some time as it got up to temperature, the XCeed’s engine only stays on for a maximum of two minutes or so, then remains off for the rest of the journey. We’ll be keeping an eye on it as we head towards the colder months…
5 October 2020
Depending on who you listen to, plug-in hybrids like our long-term Kia XCeed are either something that the devil has on their drive or they’re the perfect stepping stone to total electrification.
Here at Company Car Today, we tend to fall into the latter camp, especially if you adopt a fastidious attitude to charging at every opportunity as we do. We’ve yet to recharge at a public charging point, for the obvious reason that we’ve never really had to – although with a relatively paltry 37-litre fuel tank (down from 50-litres in the standard car) you can get through a tank quite quickly when doing a lot of motorway miles. However you cut it though, our average mpg has just tipped into treble figures, which is hard to argue against.
We’ve been undertaking lots of shorter local journeys of late, which obviously plays to a plug-in hybrid’s strengths, although the colder autumnal weather has started to make itself felt. To maximise our economy throughout summer, we’d been pretty good at avoiding the air conditioning button.
Now though, we’ve got the double-whammy of cooler temperatures meaning that our fully-charged range has dropped from 36 to 33 miles (not much admittedly, but still a 10 per cent drop) and finding that the engine sometimes fires up when first setting off – something that our previous Hyundai Ioniq used to do as well. Having said that though, even occasional longer motorway journeys haven’t seemed to dent our ever-rising average. Even for those doubters, just how do you argue against 100-plus mpg?
18 September 2020
Be the change that you wish to see in the world. I’m no history expert, but I’m pretty sure that Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t talking about plug-in hybrids like the Kia XCeed when he uttered that famous line, but he may as well have been.
It doesn’t take long driving the Kia XCeed for you to start changing your habits behind the wheel. From reading the road ahead better to focussing on momentum and energy regeneration, you become much more attuned to its needs than in a conventionally-engined car.
Our previous long-term wheels, a plug-in Hyundai Ioniq (see Hyundai Ioniq Long-Term Test ), had the added advantage of being able to tailor the strength of the brake energy regeneration with the paddles behind the steering wheel, which is sadly missing from this XCeed. That said, we’ve adapted to feathering the brake pedal as an alternative.
This light touch though does seem to sometimes throw the Kia’s gearbox into slight confusion however. We rarely spend our time cornering it on the door-handles, but there have been a couple of occasions recently where the gearchanges on the automatic gearbox have been noticeably firmer than usual especially when starting off on a journey. It seems to then take a few miles for the electronics to catch up and learn that we’re not wanting to drive like Lewis Hamilton on a family trip out.
Not that we’ve got much reason to complain mind you. With our average fuel economy currently standing at 97.6mpg over 2000-plus miles so far, there are few more convincing arguments for the benefits of a plug-in hybrid than that.
7 September 2020
Nobody could question the electric car revolution that’s gathering momentum at present. At the time of writing, so far this year, battery electric vehicle sales are up 157% while those of plug-in hybrids like our long-term Kia XCeed are up 67.7%.
While at a driving event recently, we parked up between a Kia e-Niro and Tesla Model 3, a trio of electrified vehicles that would have been an almost unthinkable sight just a few years ago. Yes, the market shares of EVs and PHEVs remain in single figures, but many buyers seem to be going straight to full EVs instead, rather than opt for a plug-in like our XCeed.
Having undertaken plenty of motorway miles since our last report, we can’t help but think that, for many, our XCeed’s plug-in hybrid tech will be a more tempting stepping-stone for the numerous technology cynics that still remain. Without a charging point at home (and constant delays getting one fitted – see our previous Hyundai Ioniq reports) or at our numerous destinations, a full EV would have seen us having to stop and recharge along our journeys.
Would driving a full EV see us change our habits accordingly? Probably yes. But at the same time, the back up of the XCeed’s petrol engine and its ever-improving fuel economy – even despite those plentiful motorway miles – is one of the easiest options to take. And, we suspect, the same will eventually be true for others too.
20 August 2020
Part of the reason for us being so happy at getting a swift resolution to our Kia XCeed’s puncture plight in our previous report was that we were imminently due to leave for a few days’ holiday in Devon.
As an annual trip, it’s not a journey we’re unfamiliar with and have undertaken it in many test cars previously, the last in a Peugeot 508. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly concerned about taking the XCeed. Not for its recently-repaired rubber, but for its boot which at 291 litres isn’t exactly what you call huge and a considerably drop from the 426 litres of the standard XCeed.
Unsurprisingly, we filled it up and used the rest of the back seat as an overflow, but once again it highlighted a drawback for PHEVs generally. That said, it’s been the only occasion of our brief time with the car so far that it has been an issue, so it’s hardly a major problem.
What has been of far more benefit though is the upside of the PHEV tech with its fuel economy – something that was frequently highlighted in Devon. Often five up, we were pretty diligent with charging regularly when back at our holiday let during our frequent round trips to the beach.
A regular journey was roughly 25 miles each way on a fast, hilly dual carriageway. The way there was spent largely on full electric mode (just), but the return journey was usually spent using the engine – and it was here that the XCeed most impressed us.
Bumping your average mpg up when you’re running mainly in electric mode is obviously fairly easy, but it’s rather harder when that has run out of charge. While there is obviously the regenerative braking to be taken advantage of, the XCeed eeks out every last volt of its battery to run on electric power whenever it can when the battery is low and the engine is used. That return journey would frequently return 68mpg-plus on the trip computer which we thought was very impressive. It seems that some PHEVs can perform when they’re out of power too.
Two days. Two blinking days. Actually I didn’t use the word ‘blinking’, I used something far more colourful. A short drive in our Kia XCeed and while negotiating a speed bump at walking pace, I heard a distinct pop.
Seconds later the tyre pressure warning chime confirmed my fears. A puncture. Luckily I was virtually at my destination already and quickly parked but the air wasn’t so much leaking out as flooding. Within moments it was properly flat. After just two days and with less than 250 miles on the odometer, a brand new tyre was about to head for the scrapheap.
With the hybrid batteries taking up boot space, there was obviously no spare or space saver, only a can of filler. But from previous knowledge, I know that this negates the chance of the tyre being repaired. By sheer fluke, the local tyre agent was nearby, so a quick visit and chat with them confirmed that the best option was to fill it up as best I could with the compressor and drive it there. Very, very slowly.
With that done, they confirmed that they could repair the tyre (I could have kissed him I was so happy – well almost) and I considered it £22.50 very well spent indeed.
While waiting, aside from admiring a De Tomaso Pantera in the next door garage (when was the last time you saw one of those?), it got me thinking about plug-in hybrids and EVs generally. Most new cars have been losing their spare tyres or space savers for years as manufacturers battle to shed vehicle weight. I’ve never been a fan of tyre filler, but with hybrids and EVs using some or all of the under-floor space for batteries, those are now even more unlikely to have a space saver – or the room for one.
23 July 2020
It would be a very brave person indeed that would bet against this new Kia plug-in hybrid version of the XCeed being a success. Both with company car and retail sales, the Ceed has been Kia’s best-seller in Europe for some time and with its Sportswagon estate, ProCeed shooting brake versions and this XCeed crossover, it’s hard not to see that continuing.
Add to that the seemingly insatiable appetite for crossovers and the continuing one for plug-in hybrids and this PHEV version looks even more like a winning hand. This XCeed’s 32g/km emissions and 36-mile fully charged range also give it a temptingly low BiK rate of just 10% (rising to 11% in 21/22 and 12% in 22/23) – a siren call to many company car drivers.
That desire certainly won’t abate in the gorgeous Infra Red of our test car (a £570 option) – a hue that isn’t entirely unlike Mazda’s Soul Red – and really makes the XCeed stand out. In the meantime, over the next six months we’ll be looking forward to sky high average fuel economy (though it’ll be tough to better the 110mpg of our previous Ioniq PHEV) and crossover practicality and comfort. First though, it’s being immediately pressed into service with a baptism of fire on a family holiday to Devon.