Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4
  • Simple engine line-up for the XCeed
  • Petrols the bigger sellers for most
  • Manual and auto available, but only for petrol

Available from launch are a pair of petrols and a diesel – available in two power outputs – with a plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid versions joining the range early in 2020. Kicking off the range is a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol producing 120hp and 172Nm of torque. This will only be available in lower-spec models, and we’ve found the engine to be surprisingly eager in other Kia models. The 0-62mph sprint takes 11.3 seconds, making it one of the slower in the range. However, it’s matched with a slick and easy to use six-speed manual gearbox.

Of more appeal is the 1.4-litre T-GDI with 140hp and a more useful 242Nm of torque. This will be the most popular engine in the XCeed and is compatible with most models and gearbox options. It’s a smooth and refined unit (more so with the DCT auto fitted), and gets up to speed quickly enough with a 0-62mph time of 9.4 and 9.5 seconds for the manual and auto respectively.

We’d recommend the DCT automatic with this engine as it makes for a smoother driving experience. It’s easy to make some jerky gearchanges in the manual and feels a more refined fit as an automatic. There doesn’t seem to be much of a penalty in performance, and at all speeds (unless you are really revving it), it remains a quiet and refined engine that picks up well if you want to make any overtaking manoeuvres. Only then does it become a little more vocal.

It's at its best delivering steady progress, we found, and that's reflected in the gearbox's desire to shift up early - this will partly be to save fuel but also to keep the engine out of its rather coarse and noisy top end. It's more responsive if you select Sport mode but still not the last word in performance and is less refined too.

Helping matters would be a set of shift paddles on the wheel to give you the option to manually drop down the gears as and when it's needed. You don't get these, sadly, just a manual override toggle on the shifter which is a little awkward to use.

If you prefer a diesel (of more appeal to fleet drivers), there are two options, but what you can get is limited to the trim level.

The entry diesel is a 115hp version of the same 1.6-litre CRDi found in other Kia cars, available only in 2 trim. This offers up 280Nm of torque and features a manual gearbox. That higher torque figure compared with the petrols means it feels a little nippier than the 1.4 in situations where you need to pick up speed, but a 0-62mph figure of 11.4 seconds makes it more on a par with the 1.0 T-GDI when getting up to speed in the first place.

If you want extra shove, there’s a 136hp version of this engine available on the 3 trim level, offering a quicker 0-62mph time of 10.6 seconds and the same torque figure of 280Nm. It feels surprisingly eager in the XCeed and would make sense for longer journeys thanks to the fuel economy.

Handling

  • Tweaked suspension compared with Ceed
  • Rides well but remains agile and balanced
  • An excellent blend of comfort and handling

The XCeed may feature some rufty-tufty wheelarch cladding, some silver trim and SUV pretentions, but it’s not much higher than a regular hatchback in terms of how high it sits on the road, so it’s not surprising to learn it drives very much like a regular hatchback. In fact, it handles very well for a hatchback, let alone a crossover with higher ground clearance than the larger Sportage.

The Ceed hatch is a good place to start as it manages to blend fine body control with comfortable suspension, but Kia has tweaked and refined the suspension and dampers just for the XCeed in a bid to make it even more comfortable and sporty at the same time.

It’s been a successful exercise too, as the XCeed handles very well indeed, demonstrating a pleasant balance between impressive body control on a twisty road so you don’t feel like it’s rolling around and a chore to keep on top of, while remaining comfortable when road surfaces become a little rougher.

It’s something that many cars aim for and pull off with varying degrees of success, but the XCeed really does impress. It isn’t quite as soft over bumps as an equivalent Renault Kadjar fitted with small wheels, and it can feel just a little fidgety over continuously bumpy surfaces, but even with the largest 18-inch alloys fitted it handles them better than a higher-spec VW T-Roc or a BMW X2.

If you do want to try and have a little more fun on a twisty road, the fine body control mens you won’t be flung around too much, although the steering may be a bit vague for some. That’s no bad thing for manoeuvrability around town as it’s very nicely weighted, there just isn’t much feedback when you make the inputs. A Focus Active or an X2 will be more engaging, then, but the XCeed – again – manages to strike a nice balance between the two.