Kia XCeed GT-Line S first drive - after 120k sales, this is a facelifted model
When we were first introduced to Kia’s XCeed crossover three years ago, a senior official told us, “We don’t tend to build cars that people don’t want”
THE XCEED IN 60 SECONDS
The Ceed range became a family of four when the XCeed joined the traditional Ceed hatchback, practical Sportswagon and less commodious but sleekly-styled shooting brake Proceed.
Whereas the cars that came before it had clearly defined roles, some confusion initially reigned over the XCeed. Was it merely a pseudo crossover to cash in on the craze for such cars – or was it a proper, full fat effort?
In the end it mattered little because Kia’s dealers had a heyday shifting them off their respective forecourts as buyers were won over by the elevated ride height compared to the Ceed (+44mm), a coupe-ified roofline, and a nice blend of rufty-tufty cues with greater premium details.
In a move intended to make it an “even more enticing proposition” in the C-Crossover segment, the revised model offers greater choice than before as the trim level count has been boosted by the introduction of sportier ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’ variants, with these sold alongside ‘2’ and ‘3’ cars.
HOW IS THE XCEED DIFFERENT?
Given how Kia is making a fuss about the pricier grades, we decided to sample the range-topping ‘GT-Line S’ with the 1.5-litre, four-cylinder ‘T-GDI’ turbo petrol.
Mid-life facelifts can only perform so much and the basic shape of the original remains largely intact. A revised ‘Tiger Nose’ grille fills the space between sweptback headlights that now incorporate the driving lights – a move that has allowed designers to introduce ‘air curtains’ to the reprofiled front bumper. Doing this is said to “guide air smoothly” around the wheels, reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency.
At the rear, ‘honeycomb infused’ wraparound LED tail-lamps and a chunky bumper-integrated smoked metal diffuser are joined by another defining feature in the horizontal ‘ledge’ that occupies the space at the base of the rear window. Sitting on 18-inch wheels, the mirror caps on our ‘Spirit Green’ infused test car were gloss black in appearance, while the roof rails were finished in dark chrome.
AND WHAT ABOUT ENGINES?
It is now a petrol-only affair for this South Korean car, with customers having a choice of just one – a new 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo unit that is good for nearly 160bhp.
It relies on a six-speed manual to send power to the front axle and is a sprightly performer, ticking off the dash to 62mph in 8.7 seconds. Gone is the previous 1.0-litre petrol. Gone, too, is diesel, and in its place comes a plug-in hybrid that promises 30-miles of emission-free country driving rising to nearly 37-miles in urban settings.
For the record, recharging the battery pack using a 3.3kW charger should take no longer than 2 hours 15 minutes. But back to the pure petrol.
Eager to please and blessed with decent poke even with four adults to lug around, the ‘T-GDI’ motor stays hushed under acceleration and fades into the background at cruising speeds. Also impressive is the hand-operated transmission: the cogs are perfectly spaced and there is a well-oiled action as you move up or down the ratios.
ANY CHANGES ON THE INSIDE?
‘GT’ examples of the XCeed attract part leather, part suede upholstered seats that, in the case of the driver and front seat passenger, are finished off with neat embroidery work. Other changes worth pointing out include the 12.3-inch driver display that now boasts fresh graphics and themes on top of a row of touch-sensitive tabs to operate the widescreen-ified 10.25-inch multimedia system.
Happily, owners do not have to delve into this every time they want to access a function (such as turning on the air conditioning or reaching for the heated seat option) as these remain as physical buttons.
And making choices is a tad easier this time around because these are subtly angled towards the driver, ensuring you don’t have to lift your eyes off the road for longer than is absolutely necessary. As for space, the boot on petrol XCeeds totals 426-litres if the back seats are up and 1,378-litres once flattened. A height adjustable floor is a boon, too, as it eradicates the otherwise deep load lip.
DOES IT DRIVE WELL?
In a nutshell, yes. Even on the bigger wheels the XCeed is a great place to spend hours at a time. To stand up to buyer scrutiny, Kia made the decision to test and develop the XCeed in the UK to maximise the benefit of slotting rubber bump stops into the front two shocks – and it has paid off.
Using the regular Ceed as its foundation, the ride is cossetting as the suspension dulls out thuds and body control is better than it has any right to be given the loftier stance and larger overhangs. We have already praised the torquey engine and slick shifting manual and the good news continues to the electric power steering which is both accurate and well-weighted.
If a part-electrified powertrain is still not for you then the XCeed buying process is pretty straightforward as Kia only offers its C-segment crossover with one alternative engine: a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol. Fitted with the company’s own stop-start system, fuel returns of up to 45mpg is said to be possible, while the manual’s long final drive caps tail-pipe emissions at 148g/km.
You’ll have to pay close attention to pick out the changes that have been applied to the new-for-2023 XCeed as they are subtle at best. Most of these concentrate on the front where a new grille and lighting arrangement feature alongside ‘air curtains’ on either side of the re-sculpted bumper. On ‘GT-Line S’ cars, styling enhancements include 18-inch wheels, black mirror caps and dark roof rails.
The sloping roofline may look the part but it does come at the cost of nicking those travelling in the back of some much-needed head space – a problem exacerbated if the full-length panoramic glass sunroof is present. There is plenty of oddment storage, though, thanks to good-sized door bins for a drink bottle and a large-ish cubby that is located under the drivers’ centre arm rest.
Kia’s reputation for building well-made, attractive yet functional interiors continue with the XCeed. The layout of the car’s dash is broadly similar to before which is no bad thing for the simple reason it makes daily operations simple to execute. At the heart of things in ‘GT-Line S’ cars is a 10.25-inch touchscreen that allow media from Apple or Android smartphone devices to be streamed wirelessly.
- Even smarter looking
- Nicely-presented cabin
- Petrol is fast and frugal
- The rear is cramped
- Limited engine choice
- Ceed does a similar job
Price: £30,395 (as tested)
Engine: 1.5-litre, 4cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque: 187bhp/151lb ft
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
0-62mph: 8.7 seconds
Top speed: 129mph