The Kia Ceed’s well-equipped, no-nonsense cockpit incorporates everything where you expect to find it.

The Kia Ceed’s well-equipped, no-nonsense cockpit incorporates everything where you expect to find it.

The introduction of the plug-in hybrid version of the Kia Ceed Sportswagon marks the next step in the Korean carmaker's electrification strategy. It is manufactured at the brand's European production facility in Žilina, Slovakia alongside the Ceed five-door hatchback, ProCeed five-door shooting brake, XCeed CUV and conventional petrol and diesel versions of the Ceed SW.  Continuing just-auto/AIC's review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside.

Inside job

The cabin retains the same driver-oriented dashboard, low seating position and everyday ergonomics of the existing Ceed SW. However, the PHEV model features a few additions, notably on the instrument cluster that displays remaining charge levels, anticipated electric-only range and the flow of energy between the battery pack, engine and electric motor.

Another notable feature is the 'Driver Only' heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system – activated via button on the dash – that can deactivate airflow to all cabin vents except those nearest the driver. This is designed to reduce the draw on battery energy from the ventilation system, while still keeping the driver at their preferred temperature. Unlike conventional ventilation systems, this system doesn't simply restrict airflow to certain vents, rerouting it elsewhere; instead, it switches off the fans themselves, reducing energy use at source.

There are no fewer than 11 versions of the Ceed, based on four trim levels, namely the '2', 'Blue Edition', '3' and 'First Edition'. The Kia Ceed SW PHEV is available in a '3' specification that features 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and rain sensing front wipers, dual-zone automatic air-con, power-folding door mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rear parking sensors.

A 10.25-inch touchscreen sat-nav system with Kia Connected Services featuring TomTom Live and UVO Connect telematics system is included. Unique to the PHEV variants, the system incorporates a functionality to help owners locate available charging points in their vicinity, or en route to their destination. Drivers can use the touchscreen system to schedule when their vehicle should charge when plugged in at home, enabling them to take advantage of cheaper off-peak energy tariffs.

The cabin architecture from the most recent Kia vehicles has been adapted for the Ceed, with a sculptural, seamless dashboard. The dash itself is split into an upper area – for the 'floating' touchscreen infotainment system – and lower level, housing the nitty-gritty controls for audio and HVAC. Driver-centric in its layout, the centre console is helpfully angled slightly towards the driver's seat. The seats are supplied by Adient and shipped just-in-time from its facility in Žilina (more of which below). The interior has soft-touch materials hither and thither. Surfaces are finished with metallic or satin chrome trim. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear stick are also nice touches. While cubby holes are in abundance, the doors bins are not lined meaning things left inside rattle around noisily while on the move.

Other useful technologies include Bluetooth smartphone integration, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility.

Advanced driver assistance systems

Standard ADAS technologies include high beam assist, driver attention warning, lane-keeping assist and forward collision warning with forward collision-avoidance assist, high beam assist and hill start assist control. A driver attention warning advises drivers to take a break if the system detects signs of fatigue.

Size matters

Constructed on Kia's 'K2' platform and sharing near-identical dimensions to the five-door hatchback, the Ceed SW is 20mm wider (1,800mm) and 20mm lower (1,465mm) than the outgoing model. Its wheelbase remains the same at 2,650mm, with the front overhang shortened by 25mm (to 885mm), and rear overhang extended by 115mm (now 1,070mm).

Compared to its predecessor, there is greater shoulder room for rear passengers, more headroom in the front row, and a lower driving position. By folding the 60/40 split rear seats down, the cargo space can be extended to 1,506 litres. A split-level boot floor allows the driver to lower or raise the height of the boot floor, to accommodate larger cargo or create a compartment beneath for hidden treasures.

Made in Slovakia

The introduction of a PHEV variant brought electrified powertrains to the Ceed family and is manufactured at the brand's European production facility in Žilina, Slovakia. The story of Žilina goes back to the mid-2000s, when Kia established a policy of building cars in and for the markets where they were to be sold, wherever possible. In Europe that meant mid-sized three- and five-door hatchbacks and an estate to compete in the all-important C-sector. But it also opened up the possibility for the Korean automaker's compact crossover, the Sportage, to be made closer to its European customer base. 

As daytime temperatures across the UK last week hovered around freezing point, that is nothing compared to Slovakia. Žilina lies deep in the Slovakian countryside at the foot of the Tatra mountains – lovely in the summer, but in winter temperatures dip to minus 28º C. Winter lasts a long six months, which influenced the layout of the plant. The press, body, paint and final assembly shops are constructed in a square so that cars and parts do not have to go outside at any stage. The engines are assembled on a factory site next door and delivered to the final line by over ground tunnel. This enclosed facility means that large exterior doors are not needed. In turn, this reduces the need for high levels of heating as doors are not constantly being opened and closed.

Under the bonnet

The powertrain combines an 8.9kWh lithium-polymer battery pack, a 44.5kW electric motor, and a 1.6-litre four-cylinder GDi engine. The powertrain's total power and torque output is 139bhp and 265Nm of torque, enabling the Ceed SW PHEV to accelerate from 0-to-60mph in 10.5 seconds. On a full charge, the hybrid is capable of travelling up to 35.4 miles (city range) on electric power. Recharging the battery pack using a 3.3kW charger takes just over two hours.

All in all, this well-equipped model felt brisk, quiet and poised at every turn. It also has noticeably good suspension; a 100-yard stretch of country road near me, littered with bumps and potholes similar to that found in a proving ground, is the perfect spot for a road test.