XCeed takes Kia (UK) into popular C-segment crossover territory

XCeed takes Kia (UK) into popular C-segment crossover territory

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The XCeed is the fourth variant of the latest generation of the Slovakian built Ceed line to reach UK showrooms. We've had variations of the hatchback and wagon in previous generations but the recently launched ProCeed, a 'shooting brake' that looks something like the result of the illicit coupling of a five door hatchback and estate car mixed in with a bit of coupe parentage, showed Kia was thinking in a new direction and now the arrival of yet another variant clearly targets the current sweet spot of the C-segment, crossovers.

Wheelbase is the same as other Ceeds (2,650mm) but the XCeed's front and rear overhangs are extended over the five-door hatchback model by 25mm at the front (to 905mm) and 60mm at the rear (to 840mm). The rear deck trailing edge is 60mm higher than that of the five door hatchback and the body is 26mm wider at 1,826mm. Ground clearance is 172mm on 16-inch wheels and 184mm on 18-inchers, a rise of up to 44mm over the five-door hatchback. Wheel arch and side sill cladding and silver roof rails are to give the car a tougher, SUV-like presence, with the metallic valance in the rear bumper enhancing this effect. Luggage capacity increases 31 litres to 426; 1,378 with rear seats folded.

Kia claims unique ride and handling character for its new crossover with suspension tuning and componentry not found in other Ceed models. It certainly handled and rode well on a variety of southern England roads with well muted mechanical and tyre noise. The crossover alone in the range has hydraulic rebound stoppers, fitted to the front axle of all models. The rubber bump-stop floats in hydraulic fluid within the shock absorbers, providing a highly compliant ride over poor surfaces. With more ground clearance, engineers have softened the front and rear spring rates by up to seven and four percent, respectively, depending on the weight of different engines over the front axle, to improve comfort and stability.

After the Ceed hatchback and ProCeed warm-up acts in Europe, my first encounter with XCeed was both in RHD UK specification and on familiar territory and it's impressive - any crossover at this stage of the game is a 'me-too' product, sure, but the new Kia draws attention for keen pricing (GBP20,795 to GBP29,195) with only GBP570 'premium' paint and GBP250 (manual) or GBP750 (DCT automatic) advanced driving assistance packs as factory options. Showroom simplicity begins right there with 2 (nicely equipped), 3 (very nicely equipped) or First Edition (loaded) trims to choose from and then, according to trim, 118hp direct injected petrol turbo 1.0T-DGi with six speed manual only, a 1.4T-GDi 138hp with either six speed DIY or seven speed, dual clutch automatic, plus six-speed manual-only 114hp or 134hp 1.6CRDi diesels. There should be something for everyone in that roster without the premium brands' complex and expensive vast options lists. Kia dealers likely also appreciate the relative ease of ordering and stocking the cars they know their local customer base will buy.

Build quality, especially for the money, is excellent and high quality materials again figure in the interior, like the ProCeed which drew a "this is a Kia?" reaction from me on first encounter in its native Slovakia. Even base 2 trim is hardly Spartan - cruise control with speed limiter, air conditioning (you slum it with set-it-yourself dials), alarm, all-round power windows, keyless entry, automatic headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels outside, space saver spare wheel (bonus points for that instead of often useless gunk 'n' pump), projection front fog lamps, LED projection headlamps and LED daylight runners, tinted glass, dual-tone horn and roof rails.

You also get body colour electric adjust and heated door mirrors, LED rear lights and various nice bits of exterior trim. Other niceties include premium cloth seat trim, chrome interior door handles, leather trimmed steering wheel and gearshift, rear centre armrest with cupholders and 60/40 split rear seat. An eight inch central touchscreen handles audio display and such (no navigation at this level) and there's also a 3.5-inch digital display between the two conventional dials. A reversing camera, digital radio, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with voice control, six speakers and steering wheel controls are also standard. Some of that lot is extra on premium brands. Safety kit includes six airbags, lane keep assist (which works very well and less obtrusively than some), automatic high beam, driver attention warning, hill start assist, speed limit info and forward collision avoidance. All. Standard. If your place on the totem pole gets you only this entry level version as a company car, you will not feel short-changed and neither will the penny-watching private buyer.

Grade 3 brings 18-inch alloys, privacy glass, rain-sensing wipers, a black cloth trim with faux (aka fake) leather bolsters and power lumbar support in both front seats. The centre screen stretches to 10.25 for standard navigation and Kia Connected services which also brings TomTom Live and UVO Connect telematics. The a/c becomes dual zone full auto, door mirrors have LED indicators and can be folded in electrically, the rear view mirror auto dims and rear parking sensors are standard. Both front seats and steering wheel are heated, the park brake is electric (with v useful auto hold), the front passenger chair adjusts for height, there's an auto defog system and smart entry and start/stop, the display between the dials is 4.2 inches and a USB fast charger is in the centre console. Manual versions have forward collision avoidance upgraded to include pedestrian and cyclist detection. The DCT automatic has Normal and Sport drive mode selection which alters steering weight plus throttle and gear shift responses.

Kia Motors (UK) thinks technology fans will love the First Edition. This take-the-top-model-and-tick-all-equipment-boxes trick has become popular amongst automakers in our market and led to some very desirable loaded models sought after as nearly new and nearly as expensive as new (looking at you, Volvo XC40). Kia adds Smart Park Assist, yellow detailing (much more tasteful than it might sound) to the cloth 'n' leather seats, heated outer rear seats (try explaining that to little sis still in mandatory child seat while big sis enjoys warm buns), two memory settings for the all-power driver's seat (annoyingly these can only be activated stationary with the gear selector in Park), full 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, panoramic sunroof with tilt/slide opening and an electric shade (I'd like opening and shade buttons separate), aluminium pedals, smart power tailgate, LED personal light eight speaker JBL sound and a wireless phone charger (now a Mrs Deputy Editor must-have in a new car).

Extra safety kit includes blind spot warning and an intelligent speed info function.

In early 2020, a plug-in hybrid powertrain will join the range combining an 8.9kWh lithium-polymer battery pack, a 44.5kW electric motor, the 1.6-litre Kappa I4 GDi petrol engine and a six-speed DCT automatic. This will deliver 139hp power, 265Nm of torque and a claimed all-electric range of about 60km (38 miles). Will it pass my PHEV test - office (41 miles round trip) and back on a 'tank' of home-filled lecky? I look forward to finding out. Kia is still homologating this model so hasn't announced CO2 emissions yet.

The XCeed crossover will, Kia (UK) spokesman Stev Kitson said at the media launch, "help grow Ceed's appeal in the market".

He noted "showroom" [demo] cars had been with dealers for three weeks and 67% of orders taken so far were 'conquest' sales where buyers are switching brands. "We have to bring new people to the brand," Kitson added. "We don't like to make cars nobody wants to buy, nobody does. Crossovers are what retail buyers want, fleet user-choosers, too."