- Good value for money with lengthy standard equipment list
- Cheap to run with frugal engines
- Transferable seven-year warranty
Not so great
- Not as refined as a Volkswagen Golf
- Not as cheap as you might expect
- Automatic gearbox is a bit frustrating
On the inside
How much does it cost to run
Prices, versions and specification
Overall verdict on the Kia Ceed
"The Kia Ceed used to be the equivalent to Tesco own-brand baked beans. It did the same job as rivals like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra but for less money and less charisma - if it’s possible to have less charisma than a Vauxhall Astra…"
So you might be shocked to find that the Kia Ceed is no longer cheaper than its mainstream contemporaries. But it’s also just as good in many areas as, say, a Volkswagen Golf. It’s loaded with kit, too, with even the most affordable models featuring a decent infotainment system, a reversing camera and alloy wheels. Chuck in a transferable seven-year warranty and suddenly the Ceed makes a very strong case for itself as a used bargain.
We’ll start with one of the Ceed’s best features: its smart and practical interior. It’s mostly devoid of cheap plastics and genuinely comparable to a Volkswagen Golf’s, if not as plush as the Mazda 3’s cabin. Most models even come with a slick 10.25-inch touchscreen navigation system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This has a logical layout and sharp graphics, while handy physical shortcut buttons make it slightly easier to use on the move.
The interior is fairly spacious, especially for front-seat passengers, although full-sized adults in the back might get a bit grumpy after a few hours. There’s plenty of useful storage compartments and the boot is slightly bigger than a Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf, although you’d probably have to park the cars alongside each other to notice.
To drive, the Kia Ceed is pretty unremarkable, but most will see that as a good thing. You don’t really want a car like this to be remarkable to drive. The steering steers, the tyres grip and the brakes stop. It doesn’t lean considerably in the corners while the supple suspension does a pretty good job of soaking up lumps and bumps. You’ll notice a bit of road and wind noise at high speed - certainly more than in a Volkswagen Golf - but it’s not enough to really irritate.
Anyone looking for something a bit sportier is catered for with the Ceed GT, which comes with a powerful 1.6-litre petrol engine. It’s a bit of a silly car, though - and not in a fun Mazda MX-5 way. It’s noisier, thirstier and less comfortable than a standard Ceed, without being as good to drive as a Volkswagen Golf GTI or Ford Focus ST. It’s a bit pointless, really.
More importantly, the Kia Ceed is a safe purchase, with a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and a long list of techy safety features as standard. Isofix points in the back will help when fitting child seats, too.
The Kia Ceed is no longer a budget option and, in many ways, is just as good as a comparable Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf or Mazda 3. You get lots for your money, with a well-finished interior and decent practicality. It’s nothing special to drive but it feels safe and assured, while the engine line-up means it ought to be cheap to run - provided you avoid the pointless Ceed GT.
If you're looking for the older version, you need our Kia Ceed (2012-2018) review.
Comfort and design: Kia Ceed interior
"You’ll find it easy to get comfortable in the Ceed, thanks to generous adjustment in the driving seat and steering wheel - even on the most affordable models."
If you (or your regular passengers) are an unusual size or suffer from backache, you might wish to avoid the 2 or 2 Nav models. These do without a height-adjustable passenger seat or electric lumbar support - both of which are standard across the rest of the range.
For the fanciest seat adjustment, look for a GT-Line S model. This features a 10-way power adjustable driver’s memory seat - particularly useful if more than one person is going to regularly drive your car. It’s a shame this isn’t offered on lesser trim levels, even as an optional extra.
Still, all the seats are fairly comfortable and supportive, and heated front seats across GT-Line models and above are a desirable feature.
Comfort aside, it’s a classy, well-designed cabin. It’s pleasing to see actual buttons for operating things like climate control and even skipping music tracks or accessing the navigation. All too often, you have to navigate a myriad of menus in the infotainment to perform simple tasks, and that can be distracting on the move.
All models come with steering wheel controls for features like the cruise control and stereo, while the standard dials are clear and easy to read.
Handling and ride quality: What is the Kia Ceed like to drive?
"The best compliment we can pay the Kia Ceed is to say it feels very similar to a Volkswagen Golf to drive. By that, we mean it handles reassuringly (although it’s not as fun as a Ford Focus), while its fully-independent suspension soaks up bumps very well - even on larger alloy wheels."
Anyone should be able to jump into the Ceed and find it easy to drive from the off. The steering is light - great for manoeuvring through town - while forward visibility is very good, thanks to thin windscreen pillars. Rear visibility isn’t quite so impressive but a very good reversing camera system is standard across the range, while most models also get rear parking sensors.
Out of town, a quick steering rack means it feels quite agile, and there’s plenty of grip on hand until you start really throwing it about. The Ceed is a popular choice with high-mileage company car drivers, and that’s reflected in its big-car feel on the motorway.
The ride quality is generally very good and isn’t ruined by the 18-inch alloy wheels fitted to top GT-Line S and GT models. It’ll get flustered sooner than a Volkswagen Golf or Toyota Corolla, passing shudders through the cabin when you a hit a bump in the road, but most of the time it’s perfectly acceptable.
MPG and fuel costs: What does a Kia Ceed cost to run?
"Fuel consumption varies depending on things like trim levels, alloy wheel size and - obviously - engine. The good news is that no Kia Ceed should cost a fortune in fuel."
The 1.6 CRDi diesel engine in 116PS guise is the most efficient of the bunch. This returns up to 60.1mpg in official WLTP fuel economy tests and, with some steady motorway driving, this should be fairly achievable in the real world.
The 1.0-litre T-GDI petrol is slightly more efficient than the 1.4, although neither are particularly thirsty. The smaller engine officially returns up to 50.4mpg, while the 1.4 is good for 45.6mpg. With a 50-litre fuel tank, you’ll pay around £50 to fill it from near-empty, and that’ll be good for 350 to 400 miles.
The warm Ceed GT model is the thirstiest, officially seeing 38.2mpg. Drive it hard and you’ll see considerably less than that.
How much should you be paying for a used Kia Ceed?
"As Kia has traditionally been seen as a budget brand, you might be surprised that the list price of a new Ceed isn’t much cheaper than the equivalent Ford Focus."
That’s true on the used market, too, although the Ceed’s high levels of standard equipment (and that transferable seven-year warranty) mean it offers decent value for money.
If you want an as-new model, look for a pre-registered car. These will have been ordered by dealers to meet targets and are ready to go at a discounted rate compared to retail price. You get the same lengthy warranty and get to skip the waiting list, although it means you can’t pick your own colour and optional extras.
We’ve seen a pre-reg Kia Ceed in desirable GT-Line trim with the 1.0-litre petrol engine advertised for less than £19,000 - representing a saving of around £2500 compared to new. A sporty Kia Ceed GT can be bought for £22,000 with less than 400 miles on the clock - that’s a saving of more than £4000.
For further savings, you can pick up a two-year-old Ceed in entry-level 2 trim with the diesel engine for around £12,000. A 3 of the same age starts from around £13,000 with the 1.0-litre petrol engine (£13,500 with the diesel), while a two-year-old GT-Line starts from around £15,000.
Is the Kia Ceed right for you?
The Kia Ceed is a very likeable car. It has a perfectly pleasant interior and it feels reassuringly solid to drive. The engines are very good, although they’re let down slightly by the stodgy gearboxes (both automatic and manual). It’ll be cheap to run, though, with decent fuel economy, low servicing costs and a long warranty.
While the Ceed struggles to excel in any particular area (and it’s not the bargain it once was), it’s all brought together in a perfectly decent package. Rivals might be more appealing in certain areas, but we doubt you’d regret buying a Kia Ceed.
What’s the best Kia Ceed model/engine to choose?
You don’t need to spend big bucks to get a decent Kia Ceed. The most affordable 2 trim level will tick all the boxes for a lot of buyers, but we reckon middling models like the Kia Ceed 2 Nav or 3 represent the best value for money. GT-Line and GT-Line S models are loaded with equipment, but you’ll pay strong money for them.
In terms of engines, don’t bother with a diesel unless you cover a lot of miles. The petrols are efficient and better to drive. The standard 1.0-litre petrol is eager, if a little noisy, and will be fine for a lot of people. If you need a bit more performance (particularly for motorway driving), the 1.4 would be a better option. Avoid the 1.6 GT unless you’re really averse to proper hot hatches like the Golf GTI.
What other cars are similar to the Kia Ceed?
The big contenders in the family car class include the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon, Mazda 3 and Vauxhall Astra. It’s not far off being as good as a Golf, although the Focus pips it in terms of driving enjoyment.
The Mazda 3 feels more special, but the Ceed is a decent alternative to the Leon. You could also consider the Skoda Octavia if practicality’s important, and then there’s the Hyundai i30 - a car that’s closely related to the Ceed. Underdog alternatives include the Honda Civic and Peugeot 308.
Quality and finish
It might not look as upmarket as a Volkswagen Golf or Mazda 3, but the Ceed’s cabin feels generally well finished. There are plenty of squishy materials and all of the switchgear feels acceptable, if not as well damped as a Golf’s.
You’ll notice a marked difference in high-spec models compared to the more affordable Ceeds on the market. The part-faux-leather seats on pricier cars do a good job of lifting the interior, as does the faux-leather door trim and chrome dashboard trim.
While Kia might have a reputation as a budget brand, it’s moved on since the days of the Kia Pride of the 1990s. We have no doubt that the interior will remain rattle-free for a number of years, and it’s certainly not going to start falling apart any sooner than a Vauxhall Astra’s.
Infotainment: Touchscreen, USB, nav and stereo in the Kia Ceed
The standard Kia Ceed 2 uses a simple eight-inch colour infotainment screen without navigation. This is fine, actually - just as big as systems used in rivals, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto meaning you shouldn’t actually miss navigation that much (you can mirror Google Maps from your phone instead).
The rest of the range gets a 10.25-inch navigation system tacked onto the dashboard (Kia describes it as ‘floating’). The location of this looks a little odd - some rivals do a better job of incorporating the media system into the dash - but it’s actually really well located for glancing at while driving.
Our biggest gripe is that it’s touchscreen-only. That’s pretty normal for a car in this class, but we find the rotary controller in the Mazda 3 is easier to use on the move.
Still, it’s a quick and easy system to use, with logical menus and clear graphics. You can split the display into three, showing things like navigation and radio information at the same time. It’s also not entirely button-less - there are physical shortcuts to things like the radio and navigation underneath the main screen, meaning it’s not too much of a faff to navigate while driving.
Other nice-to-have tech features include a wireless phone charger (only offered on GT-Line S models) and a premium eight-speaker JBL sound system (again, only offered on GT-Line S models). There’s a fancy 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster available too, but only on (you guessed it), GT-Line S models.
Space and practicality: Kia Ceed boot space
As far as modern family cars go, the Kia Ceed’s quite a small one. Despite this, some clever packaging (with all four wheels pushed towards the corners of the car) means it’s surprisingly spacious inside - if not as versatile as the massive Skoda Octavia.
Provided you’re not the BFG, you should be able to get comfortable up front fairly easily. You can drop the seats nice and low to prioritise headroom, should you wish, and there’s plenty of elbow room to prevent those awkward clashes with passengers.
There’s plenty of space for storing odds and ends, including fairly big door bins, a useful cubby box under the front armrest and a pair of usefully large cupholders.
If you plan to regularly carry passengers in the back, you might be better looking at a crossover SUV like the Kia Sportage. Things are fairly cramped back there, but you’ll fit a pair of adults at a push. There’s room for someone in the middle seat - if they don’t mind rubbing shoulders - and a lack of a noticeable lump in the floor (usually for the transmission tunnel) means rear-seat passengers won’t be vying for foot room.
The boot can hold 395 litres of luggage which means it’s slightly bigger than a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. There’s a useful split-level boot floor and not much in the way of a lip for lifting bulky items over. If you need more space, the rear bench splits 60:40, dropping to provide up to 1291 litres of luggage capacity.
Oddly, the only Kia Ceed available with a space-saver spare wheel is the GT-Line Lunar Edition. It’s not even offered elsewhere in the range, with drivers having to make do with a puncture repair kit in the case of a puncture. A dealer should be able to help if this is a deal-breaker for you, though.
What engines and gearboxes are available in the Kia Ceed?
The number of Kia Ceeds on the used market is split roughly equally between petrol and diesel power. You need to decide which suits your needs best. If you cover more than 12,000 miles a year, including lots of long motorway journeys, a diesel might be the best option. For lower mileages, including lots of short journeys or driving around town, you’d be better with a petrol.
The most affordable engine when new is a buzzy little 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol which we rate highly. Don’t dismiss it for being a small engine. It packs a punch, with 120PS, accelerating to 60mph in 10.7 seconds. It’s at its best around town where it’ll dart in and out of traffic, with a decent shove in the mid-range thanks to its turbocharger.
If you cover more miles out of town, look for one with the 1.4-litre T-GDI petrol engine. This’ll reach 60mph in a moderately quick 8.6 seconds, making joining motorways that little bit easier and meaning overtakes require less planning. This is also available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, with which it takes 8.9 seconds to reach 60mph.
You won’t notice the drop in performance in the real world, although you might get a little frustrated by the auto transmission’s slightly hesitant changes at times. It’s not a bad gearbox but it is easily caught out.
Wannabe racing drivers are catered for with the 204PS Kia Ceed GT. This is a bit daft, really, covering 0-60mph in 7.2 seconds. It’s expensive, thirsty, and just not as fun as a proper hot hatch like the Volkswagen Golf GTI or Ford Focus ST.
Diesel offerings are made up of a 1.6 CRDi engine available with 116 or 134PS. The lower-powered engine is aimed at the most frugal-minded and is only available with a manual gearbox, while the latter and can be paired with manual or automatic transmissions.
The diesels are fine if you absolutely must have a diesel, with plenty of low-down torque meaning they’re relaxing to drive with enough poke when required.
Refinement and noise levels
It’s refinement levels that let the Kia Ceed down against more established rivals like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. It’s not a particularly uncivilised car to drive every day, but a little more noise and vibration make their way into the cabin than we’d like.
While characterful, the 1.0-litre petrol engine is particularly vocal - especially if you work it hard to keep up with traffic. There’s quite a lot of noticeable vibration through the pedals, too. The 1.4’s better but we’re still surprised by how gruff it can sound.
The diesels have the usual grumble, particularly on start-up, although this settles down when up to temperature and running at low revs on a gentle motorway cruise.
If you want a relaxing choice, don’t go for the Ceed GT. This uses a sound actuator to pump fake noise into the cabin and make it sound sportier than it is. It’s just annoying, frankly.
When fitted with a manual transmission, the Ceed has quite a notchy gearchange and springy clutch pedal which can make smooth getaways difficult. The automatic transmission isn’t much better, often hesitating if you stomp the accelerator in need of quick forward momentum (during overtaking, for example).
This is all sounding pretty negative and, in truth, most buyers will be perfectly happy with the Ceed’s refinement levels. Many people cover many miles in their Ceeds and they’re hardly a Caterham 7 when it comes to refinement. But, drive one back-to-back with the Volkswagen Golf (a benchmark in this segment), and you’ll notice the difference.
Safety equipment: How safe is the Kia Ceed?
There’s a whole heap of clever safety equipment available on the Kia Ceed, although not all of it is included on the more affordable models.
The entry-level 2 trim level has features like the Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (City), which uses a camera and sensors to detect an impending low-speed collision with another car and alert the driver. If you don’t respond, it can apply the brakes to mitigate the impact. As standard, this doesn’t look out for cyclists and pedestrians, although this feature is offered as an option when new (it’s standard on 3 trim levels and up with the manual transmission).
It also gets Hill-start Assist Control - which will prevent you from clumsily rolling backwards during a hill start - and a Driver Attention Warning which will tell you off if you’re showing signs of drowsiness or inattentiveness. Lane Keep Assist will nudge you back into your lane if you stray, while Lane Following Assist - standard on GT-Line S models only - can use vehicles ahead to control acceleration, braking and steering when you’re in stop/start traffic.
Plenty of airbags will keep your family safe in the case of a crash, will Isofix points (standard across the range) on the outer rear seats will help secure a child seat.
When Euro NCAP crash tested the Kia Ceed in 2019, it scored an impressive five-star rating when fitted with the safety pack (which is standard on all Ceeds sold in the UK).
Insurance groups and costs
Unless you’re a particularly young driver or opt for the sporty GT model, the Kia Ceed should be very reasonable to insure. The cheapest will be the affordable 2 trim level with the 1.0-litre T-GDI engine, as this falls into insurance group 8. The Kia Ceed GT is classed as insurance group 22.
VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on a Kia Ceed?
All Kia Ceed models will be charged a flat rate of £150 per year in tax after the first year. That’s true for competitors, too, apart from hybrid models like the certain versions of the Toyota Corolla (which will save £10 a year in tax).
Trim levels and standard equipment
The entry-level Kia Ceed 2 might be the most affordable model in the range, but it’s still pretty well-equipped as standard. Highlights include 16-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and DAB radio. A reversing camera helps when parking while the Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist feature could prevent you from having minor bumps or scrapes in slow-moving traffic.
The 2 Nav model builds on this with a bigger 10.25-inch touchscreen media system including navigation, as well as a USB fast charger.
Mid-range 3 models start to feel a bit flashier with 17-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows and rain-sensing windscreen wipers. Black cloth seat trim with faux-leather bolsters look a bit swisher than the standard seats, while adjustable lumbar support helps comfort levels.
GT-Line models get a sporty look, with unique 17-inch wheels, a black and satin chrome radiator grille, high gloss black door mirrors and side sill mouldings, a dual exhaust system and a small rear spoiler. The exterior door handles are illuminated (fancy…), while the interior gets black cloth and light grey faux leather seats (heated in the front), and a heated flat-bottomed steering wheel with grey stitching. It also gets sporty aluminium pedals and an engine start/stop button.
Moving up to the GT-Line S specification, you get 18-inch wheels as well as LED headlights. There’s a wide sunroof with an electric sunblind, while the driver’s seat features 10-way power adjustment with memory functionality. The upholstery is upgraded to black leather and faux suede with grey stitching, with heated outer rear seats. A premium JBL sound system is standard with a pair of additional speakers, as well as wireless phone charging.
There’s also smart cruise control with stop and go included, as well as the Smart Park Assist System which will park the car automatically for you. This also brings with it front parking sensors while additional safety features include a Blind-Sport Collision Warning, Lane Following Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with city and pedestrian detection.
The range-topping Ceed GT builds on this with various red trim highlights (including centre caps for the 18-inch alloy wheels and a grille insert) as well as LED bi-function headlights. The cabin is uprated with black leath and faux suede upholstery and faux leather door centre trim with red accents.
The seats, door cards and steering wheel all feature red contrasting stitching, while a GT Performance mode has been added to the 4.2-inch colour supervision cluster display. Completing the list of additional equipment is a Smart Park Assist System (SPAS).
On the inside
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