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First Drive

First published: 2nd September 2015

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First Drive

Kia Cee’d 1.0 ecoTurbo GT Line first drive review

Kia's small family hatchback was already an attractive car, but how much has changed after its mid-life facelift?

First published: 2nd September 2015
Auto Trader verdict:
The small hatchback class is one of the most competitive in the UK, and pretty much every car in it has something to recommend it. The Cee’d is no exception, and these latest changes only serve to cement its position as one of the most appealing cars in its class. Value for money may be its main attraction, but whatever you want from a small hatch – whether it’s low running costs, space, smart looks or a good drive – the Cee’d is up with the very best.
Need to know:
  • Revised version of Kia’s rival for the Focus and Astra
  • Updates to styling, along with new and revised engines
  • On sale in October, priced from £14,905
2015 Kia Cee'd
2015 Kia Cee'd
What is it?
This is the revised version of Kia’s small family car, and the changes apply to all three models in the Cee’d range: the three-door Pro Cee’d, five-door Cee’d and Sportswagon estate. The most obvious revisions are the wider front bumper, extra chrome trim around the foglamps and a new mesh in the grille, along with a new bumper and LED lights at the rear.

Inside, too, there have been some similarly subtle improvements to the trim, while extra sound-deadening material has been added to diesel-engined models to improve their refinement. Also added to the car is some extra equipment, including the Speed Limit Information Function, Blind Spot Detection and upgraded Parking Assist System.

However, the most major change is the addition of a new turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, which is available in two power outputs, 98- or 118bhp, and is the most efficient petrol engine ever in a Cee’d, with near-60mpg average economy and CO2 emissions of between 109- and 115g/km. That puts it almost on a par with the Ecoboost-engined versions of the Focus, but with a considerably lower list price.

At the same time, the company has made a series of minor revisions aimed at improving the way the car drives, and introduced a new GT Line trim (which brings the look and feel of the sporty GT models to lesser-engined models).
Our first experience of the new car comes with the combination of the stronger version of that new engine with the new GT Line trim, which we expect to cost in the region of £18,000.
2015 Kia Cee'd
2015 Kia Cee'd
What's it like?
Greeted with the new Cee’d, your first reaction is that it’s very much like its predecessor. Even Kia admits that the facelift is ‘subtle’, and you really need to be something of an aficionado to spot the revisions to the front and rear of the car.

Inside, too, the changes are all fairly tough to spot, but there’s no denying they’re small improvements; and, given that the outgoing Cee’d was already renowned for its style, that’s praise indeed. The changes to the dash may amount to nothing more than an extra bit of chrome detailing here and a slab of piano black trim there, but they do raise the quality of the cabin to the point where it compares very favourably to the likes of the Focus and Astra. Along with the standard seven-year warranty, it all makes you feel that you’re getting a high-quality product.

What hasn’t changed is the amount of space that you get; and, while it’s true that the Cee’d isn’t one of the class giants – if space is your top of your wishlist, then you should head to a Skoda dealer and ask about the Octavia – it will still take four adults in comfort, and five at a push, as long as the rear-seat passengers aren’t too tall. Likewise, the boot is a respectable size, its 380-litre capacity is larger than you’ll find in a Focus or Astra.
2015 Kia Cee'd
2015 Kia Cee'd
2015 Kia Cee'd
2015 Kia Cee'd
Instead, the biggest single change is the introduction of a new three-cylinder 1.0-llitre petrol engine, and much like the rest of the car, it’s immediately impressive. In particular, there are no off-putting rattles or vibrations when you start it up – or when the start-stop system does its job. True, there’s no disguising the characteristic thrum you expect of a three-cylinder engine as you accelerate up through the first couple of gears; but, once you’re up and running with the traffic, you’d never know this engine had just three cylinders.

As long as you don’t venture much beyond 4,000rpm, the engine remains pretty refined; and, with peak pull coming from just 1,500rpm, there’s no need to work the engine hard in most everyday situations. Around town, there’s enough pull to keep up with the general ebb and flow of traffic; and the only issue is that it can be quite tricky to match clutch and revs in the lower gears, so driving smoothly around town requires some effort.

Generally, the only time you really need to call the slightly notchy six-speed manual gearbox into action in search of higher revs is at higher speeds: the long sixth gear occasionally requires you to drop down a gear or two to keep pace with motorway traffic, for example.

Overall, though, that’s nit-picking. For 95% of the time, the Cee’d’s smallest engine is a fine unit that’s more than up to the job. It goes about its work in a simple, fuss-free manner that’s typical of the Cee’d.
2015 Kia Cee'd
2015 Kia Cee'd
It’s the same story with the way the car drives, and the few minor bits of tinkering that Kia has done to the suspension have only improved what was already a perfectly pleasant car to drive.

We drove the GT Line version, which is set up a little firmer than the standard car, but there’s no great penalty to pay in ride comfort. Yes, it feels a little firm at times, but for the most part, it’s nothing you couldn’t live with. And, of course, if you do decide you can’t, then there’s always the standard car.

Instead, the GT Line car feels sharp and balanced through the bends, and a little more agile than, say, a Volkswagen Golf. Its light steering means it’s easy to manoeuvre around town, too, and the only slight issue is that the view out – particularly to the rear – could be a little better.
Should I get one?
In a word, yes. If you’re after a small family hatchback, the Cee’d should very definitely be on your shortlist. True, it’s not a cheap car – indeed, the top-of-the-range models cost well over £20,000 – but it does represent excellent value. Add in its smart looks and decent drive, and it’s a car that has plenty to recommend it.

The new 1-0-litre engine, too, has much to recommend it, with good economy and low CO2 emissions. True, it won’t be for everyone – high-mileage drivers may prefer the stronger and more economical diesel, while there’s no option to pair the smaller engine with an automatic gearbox – but it looks set to widen the Ceed’s appeal still further.
Key facts:
  • Model: Kia Cee’d 1.0T GT Line
  • Price: £18,000 (est.)
  • Engine: 1.0-litre petrol turbo, six-speed manual
  • Power/Torque: 118bhp/126lb ft
  • 0-62mph: 11.1secs
  • Top speed: 118mph
  • Economy: 57.7mpg
  • CO2/BIK tax liability: 115g/km/16%
  • Boot space: 380 – 1,318 litres
Also consider:
Ford Focus
One of the best cars of its type to drive and, although it's less impressive in other areas, it's still a great all-rounder

Skoda Octavia
With a high-quality interior, loads of legroom and a huge boot, it’s excellent value for money and is perfectly suited to families

Peugeot 308
It looks good, has an interior that’s as plush as it is stylish, and there are some real gems to be found among the engine range

Interested in buying a Kia Cee'd?

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Related topics: Hatchback