Turns out Kia's new-found dynamic prowess isn't confined to its lairy coupe. By Phil McNamara
KIA'S FULL OF surprises these days. First the enjoyable, ambitious Stinger. Now this: the third-gen Ceed is really sharp to drive, with accurate, progressively weighted steering.
Priced from £18,295, it’s undergone big changes to make it handle, including stiffer springs up front and new independent rear suspension.
The result is a hatch with great body control and lots of grip. It’ll also nip the inside front wheel’s brakes, to help pivot the car through bends. The tradeoff is a firm ride.
It has the same overall length and wheelbase as the outgoing car, though the wheels have been shifted forward to decrease the front overhang and boost the rear’s. That allows a 395- litre boot, second in class only to the Peugeot 308’s, and it’s super-accessible thanks to a low lip. The roof has been dropped and the body widened, boosting shoulder room. To maintain a good amount of headroom, the seats are mounted lower.
It will be available as a five-door, a 625-litre-lugging practical estate and a GT warm hatch, with a shooting brake to follow, and perhaps a crossover too.
The Ceed’s entry-level powerplant is a joyless 99bhp 1.4-litre petrol four, and there’s a n8bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged triple. Then there are the two new engines we tested, the petrol 1.4-litre T-GDI and a 1.6-litre common-rail diesel CRDI.
The i38bhp T-GDI is blessed with a broad band of acceleration but it’s let down by a gearchange with a throw that’s ill-defined at speed.
The i34bhp 1.6 diesel is generally grunty and smooth, but the agility is marginally blunted here by the heavier engine in the nose. It still steers sweetly and rides firmly. We tested the diesel with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, available at launch on the 1.4 petrol too and coming in due course to the 1.0 triple.
The cockpit looks a bit retro, and not in a good way. It feels like Kia lavished so much attention on the exterior design and the dynamics, they only had time to install the last-generation dashboard. There is, however, plenty of tech, from wireless phone charging to automated parking.
This third-generation Ceed moves the game on big time, with decent new engines and a step change in dynamics, ready to rival the Focus.