Kia’s Ceed model family is a fairly wide-ranging one, with four different takes on the same basic underpinnings.
There’s the regular Ceed hatchback, the sleek Proceed shooting brake, the Sportwagon estate and this, the XCeed crossover/SUV. All use the same platform and share powertrains and technology but share very little in outward appearance, giving buyers a broad range of choices.
Sales figures show the public have a clear favourite, though, with the XCeed accounting for almost half of all Ceed family sales since it launched.
In 2022 this leader of the pack was given a midlife refresh that sought to sharpen up its looks, bring some new technology and give it a sportier air through two new trim levels. We’ve been testing the new top-of-the-range GT-Line S which brings 18-inch alloys and gloss black and dark chrome highlights to emphasise its sportier nature.
The GT-Line S (and GT-Line) also gets a unique finish around the updated grille, plus a deeper, more aggressive-looking front bumper in place of the regular model’s updated one. All models get new LED headlights with integrated fog lights, which has also allowed the creation of new “air curtains”, that help improve fuel efficiency by reducing drag. At the rear, the GT-Line models get eye-catching honeycomb rear lights with individual LED elements.
The changes aren’t earth-shattering but give a fresher look to the XCeed’s design which manages to nicely embody the idea of a crossover. It has the little bit of cladding and the big wheels, plus a taller ride height than the standard Ceed but isn’t over-the-top trying to look tough or aggressive.
The GT-Line S also brings some interior upgrades, including a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and updated 10.25-inch media and navigation display with Kia Connect services and smartphone mirroring. Those changes aside, the XCeed’s interior is the usual Kia arrangement of silver coloured plastic and gloss black panels. It looks very mainstream but the quality is unimpeachable and everything feels built to last a lifetime - from the soft-touch dash to the chunky controls for the two-zone climate control.
Choose the GT-Line S spec and you’re also treated to all the kit you could ask for - from that big touchscreen and wireless phone charging to heated leather seats and steering wheel, an eight-speaker JBL stereo, two-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof and powered tailgate.
One of the attractions of the XCeed over its stablemates is the extra space it provides, which Kia claims is approaching the room provided by the larger Sportage. That feels like a bit of a stretch but you can still certainly can carry four in comfort and even those in the back enjoy heated seats and a single USB charging port. Boot space is a decent 426 litres but you lose more than 130 litres if you opt for the plug-in hybrid model.
That PHEV is one of the two drivetrains carried over from before, alongside a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol. While the hybrid offers the more impressive on-paper economy and emissions figures, the 1.5-litre offers more power and performance, with 158bhp and a 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds.
Overall, the petrol engine’s a decent unit - potent enough for this sort of car and quiet once you get past some low-rev gruffness - but a vague throttle can make low-speed manoeuvres tricky. With the standard six-speed manual transmission the official economy is 44.5mpg, which is perfectly attainable. If you want an auto you’ll lose a few mpg and you have no choice but to opt for the GT-Line S spec.
Kia talks of the Xceed being engineered to offer a high level of driver engagement and dynamism, but in the same breath reveals it has softer spring rates than the Ceed hatchback in order to offer better comfort and stability. The latter characteristics are definitely more apparent than the former and it drives largely as it looks - like a slightly tall hatchback. Steady, safe and comfortable spring to mind, dynamic, not so much.
That’s hardly the end of the world in a family crossover, however. Alternatives from Ford and Mazda might be more fun to drive but the XCeed is a well balanced package that combines stylish looks with strong equipment levels, space and comfort. It’s no wonder it’s the Ceed family favourite.
Kia XCeed GT-Line S
Price: £30,395; Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol; Power: 158bhp; Torque: 187lb ft; Transmission: Six-speed manual; Top speed: 129mph; 0-62mph: 8.7 seconds; Economy: 445mpg; CO2 emissions: 143g/km