Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Lower driving position than before but good view out
  • Improved material quality with loads of soft surfaces
  • Clear and logical layout to buttons and media system

The Ceed’s cabin may well be a new design, taking its cues from the Stinger, but in reality it’s classic Kia - smart, well-appointed and ergonomically laid out. The tech offering is improved but the design is still quite old school.

Like the larger coupe, the Ceed’s driving position is lower than you might think (more so in the manually adjusted seats than the electric version), giving it a more purposeful feel than before, while the design of the dashboard has been configured to ensure you still get a decent view out.

That, in combination with relatively thin A-pillars, means overall visibility is good – there’s a potential blindspot in the C-pillar but Kia has thoughtfully added a small window here to help you see out.

Neatly organised dashboard

The dashboard is split into two horizontal planes; the top half features a floating infotainment screen measuring either 8.0- or 10.25-inches depending on specification, with all but entry-level 2 specification gaining access to touchscreen sat-nav, Kia Connected Services powered by TomTom, and full smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The entertainment offering is enhanced in top-spec GT-line S cars by a JBL Premium sound system with Clari-Fi music restoration technology.

Lower down you’ll find the controls for the climate control and media system neatly arranged into logical groups of buttons, and the whole set-up is tilted towards the driver’s seat for ease of use. The rotary controls for the temperature adjustment are easy to use but the majority of the buttons in between are the same size so it’ll take time to get used to which is which.

Since late 2019, the driver can have the same digital dials as first seen on the XCeed, with a 12.3-inch display in place of the traditional gauges. This can be found on the top-spec GT-Line S model, and while the display is large, the contrast isn’t the best, meaning it’s not the sharpest or clearest to read at a glance.

Uplift in material quality

The quality of the materials used has also improved, with squashy surfaces and satin chrome trim. There is still a lot of hard plastic present but in the lower half of the dashboard but it at least looks hard-wearing.

Entry-level cars get a metallic effect fascia while piano black is standard on all other cars, plus you get stainless steel pedals on GT-Line models upwards.

A leather steering wheel and gearstick are standard on all grades, but your choice of seat coverings depends on which spec you choose – with cloth, faux leather bolsters or full leather upholstery available depending on trim.

There are plenty of places to stow things with a storage box under the centre console armrest, which gains a sliding function on First Edition cars.

Sporty highlights in GT-Line and GT models

The GT-Line models come with light grey stitching and highlights on the seats to differentiate it from other models in the range. It somewhat brightens up the cabin, at first glance, but the black roof lining that also comes fitted to these models immediately cancels them out as it darkens the interior by a considerable amount.

The high-powered GT model comes with its own red stitching in place of the grey, along with grippy part-leather and faux suede seats with extra side bolstering to keep you in place while cornering.

All these models also come with a flat-bottomed steering wheel and aluminium pedals.

Comfort

  • Kia promises great comfort and refinement
  • Suspension tested on UK roads
  • Loads of additional insulation to suppress noise

Passenger comfort has always been a Kia Ceed strong point and we’re happy to say the new model is no different, with a raft of enhancements promising an even more relaxed cabin ambiance.

The suspension has been tested on European roads – including in the UK – to ensure it remains composed even on our more testing tarmac. So Kia’s promise of more engaging handling shouldn’t be cause for a concern if you’d normally prefer a marshmallowy ride.

That said, we think there’s a slight edge to the suspension that wasn’t present before. It’s not uncomfortable and it’s never jarring with plenty of suspension travel to soak up bumps, but it is towards the firmer side of the scale.

Sophisticated suspension set up

Unlike some of its rivals like the Ford Focus and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Kia Ceed has fully independent suspension on all models, rather than lumping entry-level cars with a noisy, uncomfortable torsion beam at the rear.

Why does that matter? Well, independent suspension means the wheels can move of their own accord, so when you hit a bump on the rear left wheel it’s isolated to that corner of the car, rather than shuddering through the entire back end.

A new damper valve system at the front end and a relaxed rear spring rate helps absorb smaller vibrations to combat fidgetiness, particularly at higher speeds on the motorway.

More insulation for a quieter cockpit

A reduction in noise and vibration entering the car comes via thicker dashboard padding, more sound-absorbent insulation around the rear wheel arches, and a new layer of insulation beneath the cabin carpet to eliminate road roar.

The new 1.6-litre diesel engine has been hushed, with covers for the timing belt, oil pan and cylinder block, plus an engine undercover. This ensures even less agricultural chunter from the motor entering the cabin.

It’s been largely successful, as we found the higher-powered 136hp version of this engine to be quite refined. It’s noticeably a diesel at low speeds but remains smooth and quiet any other time – the equivalent Ford Focus may be even more hushed during these times, but the cabin suffers from more vibration.

Helping to combat vibration from lumpy road surfaces is a thicker rear crossmember and reinforcement under the rear cabin and boot floor. Plus, some anti-vibration pads at the base of the windshield help to isolate engine vibrations before they reach the driver.

At motorway cruising speeds, the engine is pretty subdued but there’s just enough road noise to drown it out anyway, accompanied by just a hint of wind noise.

Reshaped windscreen mouldings and more sealing around the doors helps with combatting the latter here, contributing to an overall drop in bothersome noise from 67.5 to 66.5dB at 37.5mph.

Entry-level models come with 16-inch wheels and should offer maximum comfort, but even though the higher-spec GT Line S and GT models come with 18-inch wheels, they don’t completely ruin the ride, even if road noise will be increased.

Besides, the standard stereo system comes with some fairly punchy speakers that are enough to drown most of this out with little trouble.

The seats are comfortable, and all models bar the entry-level ‘2’ come with electric lumbar adjustment manual height adjustment for both driver and front passenger. GT Line models upwards come with heated seats and a steering wheel, while those sat in the rear will have a centre rear armrest with integrated cupholders. Top spec models also come with rear air vents.