Parkers overall rating: 3.6 out of 5 3.6
  • Low-powered engines don’t excite
  • Manual or automatic gearboxes
  • Juicier engines reserved for Hatch and ProCeed

The Sportswagon is limited to only the least-powerful engines in the Ceed range, although it does get a PHEV option, unlike the hatch.

That means you can have a 1.0-litre petrol with 118hp or a 1.6-litre diesel with 116hp. These are paired to six-speed manual gearboxes in ‘2’ grade.

Step up to ‘3’ grade, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic option becomes available for the diesel, as does a 1.4-litre, 140hp petrol engine paired with either transmission. This is the most powerful engine available – Kia reserves both the 136hp version of the diesel and the 201hp 1.6-litre petrol for the Ceed hatch and ProCeed models.

The 1.0-litre petrol is more than adequate for the entry level, but there’s no denying it feels strained when asked to pull this large car, especially fully-loaded. It’s not the best small-capacity turbo around, either, feeling far less willing and eager than the 1.0-litre EcoBoost Ford fits to the Focus Estate.

The diesel feels much better suited to the task at hand, but it comes with its own problems – namely, a very narrow power band which will leave you rowing up and down the gears with considerable gusto if you want to make quick progress. With quite poorly-matched gear ratios it’s more difficult than it should be to keep the car moving smoothly and effectively.

The 1.4-litre petrol is a much more inoffensive engine. It’s better-suited to carrying around a fully-loaded Ceed SW, refined at a cruise and relatively efficient. It’s not as good as the 1.5-litre TSI EVO engine in a VW Golf Estate, but it’s perfectly adequate and it would be our choice of engine in the Ceed Sportswagon range.

If you want an automatic gearbox, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is available on diesel or 1.4-litre petrol models. It’s not a bad unit, doing without the hesitancy you’d find in a Volkswagen Group DSG, but the flipside is that changes are somewhat slurred and indistinct. It’s not as rifle-quick as some transmissions and doesn’t particularly like to be hurried.

Plug-in hybrid

Available in Sportswagon-form only this electrified petrol powertrain features 139hp and 265Nm of torque for a 0-62mph time of 10.5 seconds. Performance isn't exactly overwhelming, but in reality that's a good thing - it means the Ceed can focus purely on being an efficient, easy-to-use hybrid rather than being compromised by sporting pretentions like the previously available VW Golf GTE.

2020 Kia Ceed PHEV engine

Providing the majority of the car's propulsion in town and on some faster roads is a 60hp electric motor powered by an 8.9kWh battery pack tucked under the back seats. This gives an adequate amount of power off the line and doesn't throw you back into your seat like some electric (or electrified) models can do. All-in-all it's a very comfortable and quiet experience, rated to 35.4 miles of pure EV driving.

Pick up the pace further and assistance comes from a 1.6-litre petrol engine. Even then there's not a lot of noise unless you're really flooring it, and this is in part due to the use of a proper dual-clutch automatic gearbox rather than a CVT like some hybrids have. You can control this manually using the gear lever to shift up and down but we didn't bother, it does a good enough job on its own. There's also a Sport button if you want to sharpen the engine's responses a little.

As a package the Ceed PHEV does an extraordinary job of feeling almost entirely like a conventional petrol or diesel. The only caveat to that is the slightly inconsistent power delivery - sometimes you floor it and the car picks up quite quickly and at others there's not a great deal of response from the engine bay at all. It's also quite subtle in the way it switches between electric and gasoline power, although it did feel indecisive on the motorway, switching between the two methods of propulsion while maintaining a steady 70mph.

Handling

  • Ceed is a tidy handler
  • Somewhat unnatural steering feel
  • Small alloy wheels give comfortable ride

The Ceed Sportswagon handles much better than its looks and indeed, its rather flabby powertrains would have you believe. It holds the road well even on its budget-friendly 16-inch wheels and can actually be somewhat enjoyable to fling along a country road at a decent pace.

It’s easy to drive round town, too, as the steering’s both light and quick enough to prevent too much arm-twirling.

On faster roads, though, the steering doesn’t weight up at all, and feels inconsistent. This doesn’t inspire too much confidence to push the car hard, and when you do the rear end feels as though it’s moving around more than you’d like. In short, it’s not up to the standard set by the Ford Focus Estate.