Kia Ceed (2012-2018) Review
The smart-looking and good-value Kia Cee’d is a sensible family car choice
Strengths & weaknesses
- Steering feels too light
- Loses more value than rivals
- Not great fun to drive
Anyone buying a family hatchback with their heart will keep well clear of Kia. But that’s unlikely to worry the company, as everyone buying with their head should put the Korean brand close to the top of their list.
The Cee’d comes well-priced, well-equipped and with a reassuringly lengthy seven-year warranty that’s limited to 100,000 miles.
The engine range includes a diesel that’s efficient enough to be exempt from road tax, as well as a petrol engine that’s got an official economy rating of almost 60mpg. They are quiet too. On the motorway, there’s little disturbance from the engine or wind noise.
It’s spacious too, with enough head- and legroom for adults to sit comfortably in the back. The floor is totally flat, so anyone sitting in the middle has space to put their feet.
Luggage capacity is less impressive: the 362 litres of boot space is a little less than in the Audi A3 Sportback, Renault Megane and Seat Leon, which are around the 380 litre mark. It’s also way off the 590 litres in the Skoda Octavia and 470 litres in the Peugeot 308.
It’s not a major criticism, because Kia also offers the Cee’d Sportswagon: an estate version of the car, which boosts the boot capacity to 510 litres.
As no-nonsense family transport, the Cee’d is a safe and sensible choice. But what it doesn’t do as well as other cars is to add some sparkle to your journeys.
Where a VW Golf, Audi A3 Sportback and even a Renault Megane have interiors that feel well-built and cosseting, the Cee’d is more functional, without much style.
And while it’s not an uncomfortable car, the Golf, Peugeot 308 and Vauxhall Astra are smoother, soaking up more potholes and bumps than the Cee’d.
You’ll also have more fun in a Ford Focus, Mini Clubman or Mazda 3, which seem to respond more immediately when you steer, changing direction sharply and predictably. The light steering of the Cee’d is ideal for effortless parking, but feels less precise when you’re in a tight corner or trying to squeeze through a narrow gap.
Kia has addressed this issue with the Cee’d GT - a sportier version of the car with a more powerful engine that’s more responsive when you steer. There’s also the pro_cee’d, a three-door version of the car with two front doors and a hatchback boot.
The Cee’d was given a full five-star rating after being independently crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2012.
|7 years / 100,000 miles
|Tax (min to max)
|£0 to £205
Best Kia Ceed for...
Best for Economy – Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi ISG 1
Pick the 1.6-litre diesel engine in entry-level ‘1’ specification for the cheapest running costs. The official fuel economy figure is almost 80mpg and it's road tax-exempt.
Best for Families – Kia Ceed 1.0T GDi ISG 2
The 1-litre petrol engine is economical and better-suited to short trips than a diesel. The 2 adds practical touches like a rear central armrest with cup-holders, a 12v power socket and underfloor boot storage.
Best for Performance – Kia Ceed 1.6T GDi GT
The Kia Cee’d GT has a 200bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, accelerating from 0-62mph in a swift 7.3 seconds. It’s the quickest Cee’d but not as fast as other hot hatchbacks.
One to Avoid – Kia Ceed 1.4 1
The cheapest 1 specification combined with the slow and inefficient 1.4-litre petrol engine will remind you that you picked the budget option every time you climb in.
- May 2012 Goes on sale in UK
- January 2014 Good-value SR7 specification level introduced
- February 2014 Cee’d GT hot hatchback model joins range
- February 2015 Line-up expanded with Cee’d GT Line version
- September 2015 Update sees addition of 1.0-litre turbo engine
Understanding Kia Ceed names
Engine 1.6 CRDi ISG
Kia calls its petrol engines ‘GDi’ (or T-GDi if they’re turbocharged) and its diesels ‘CRDi’. The size is given in litres. ISG stands for intelligent stop and go: it saves fuel by temporarily shutting off the engine when you stop in traffic.
Trim level 4
The trim level dictates the amount of equipment that comes as standard. The cheapest version is 1, followed by 2, 3, 4, 4 Tech and then GT-Line. GT is the performance version.
Kia labels its automatic gearbox DCT.
Kia Ceed Engines
Petrol: 1.4i, 1.6 GDi, 1.0 T-GDi, 1.6 T-GDi Diesel: 1.4 CRDi, 1.6 CRDi
The basic 1.4-litre petrol engine that powers the very cheapest Kia Cee’ds has an official fuel economy figure of 47.1mpg and accelerates from 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds. Neither figure is very impressive by modern standards, but it’s not a bad budget choice,a s it’s more than £1,000 cheaper than other versions and costs less on finance too.
However, the 1.6-litre petrol engine is a better choice, as it’s more powerful and efficient.
Better still is one of the two 1-litre petrol engines. They might be small but they are turbocharged to boost power. The 98 horsepower (hp) version has the same slow performance figures as the cheapest 1.4-litre engine, but is 10mpg more efficient. There’s also a 118hp option, which provides a much-needed boost to the acceleration figures.
Unless your Cee’d is only going to cover short journeys, then a diesel engine may be your best option. The 1.4-litre CRDi is fairly sluggish, but the 1.6-litre CRDi offers everything: good fuel economy, reasonable acceleration and quiet performance.
The figures vary slightly depending on whether you choose the six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed gearbox, which Kia calls DCT. This stands for dual-clutch transmission. Having two clutches makes changes smoother and swifter.
Kia Ceed Trims
1, 2, 3, 4, 4 TECH, GT-Line, GT
There are few options that you can pay for individually on the Cee’d, so it’s important to get the car with a specification that includes the equipment that you’re looking for.
No Cee’d is what you’d call sparsely equipped, with even the entry-level 1 having power-adjustable heated mirrors, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a central front armrest, a 60:40 split-folding rear seat, a cooled glovebox and a six-speaker stereo with Bluetooth and DAB digital radio. It does without alloy wheels, however, so looks a bit plain.
The Cee’d SR7 is a special good-value trim level that actually has more kit than the 2, but is only available with the somewhat lacklustre 1.4-litre 98bhp petrol engine. Counting in its favour are 16-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, automatic headlights, a leather steering wheel, electric windows all round and parking sensors at the rear.
Going for the 2 gets you most of the SR7’s kit (but not the rear privacy glass or automatic headlights). It also has chrome exterior trim, front foglights, power-folding mirrors, LED daytime running lights and a handy 12v power socket in the boot.
Stepping up to 3 adds mostly interior gadgets, such as a seven-inch touchscreen sat-nav system, a reversing camera and dual-zone air-conditioning. It also has larger alloy wheels, measuring 16 inches. Next up is the 4, which ups the wheel size to 17 inches and adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, stainless-steel pedals, stainless-steel scuff plates, push-button start and an electronic parking brake.
Following the 4 in the Cee’d range is the 4 TECH, which features everything the lesser models have, plus 10-way power-adjustable seats, a smart parking assistance system that can steer you into a parking space, lane-departure warning, speed-limit notifications, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The GT-Line model, meanwhile, offers the racy looks of the Cee’d GT without the higher running costs and considerable performance of its 1.6-litre turbo engine. Finally, the Cee’d GT is the high-performance model for driving enthusiasts, powered by that 1.6-litre engine and boasting a sporty bodykit and aggressive-looking 18-inch alloy wheels.
Kia Ceed Reliability and warranty
The Kia Cee’d ranked a respectable 47th out of 150 cars in the latest Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.
But the Cee’d’s real trump card in this area is its fantastic seven-year/100,000-mile warranty cover, which can be transferred to subsequent owners if you sell the car before it runs out. It means you should never have to worry about an unexpected repair bill – as long as you maintain the car’s service history.
Used Kia Ceed
Despite that great warranty and its other appealing characteristics, the Kia Cee’d doesn’t hold its value as some rivals (like the VW Golf) on the secondhand market. After three years or 36,000 miles of ownership, the original owner will only get back in the region of 50% of what they paid for the car new, depending on the exact engine and trim level.
Of course, this is good news for used buyers on the hunt for a bargain – especially when you consider that a three-year-old Cee’d with average mileage will still have four years’ warranty cover remaining. That alone puts it head and shoulders above many alternative choices, most of which are out of warranty after three years.
Although it’s the most expensive Cee’d to buy (new or used), the GT is worth looking at if you want to get plenty of performance for your money. Many are available for less than £15,000, which is a great price for a fast, practical and good-looking performance car.