It’s tempting to kick things off by describing how this new apostrophe-free Kia Ceed differs from the outgoing model – it’s lower, wider, and generally more sporty for a start – but that feels like missing the point.

Because to all intents and purposes this is an entirely new car, and it’s easy to see why Kia should have put the effort in, since this is the company’s third best-selling model in the UK.

The new Ceed is certainly quite striking from the front, thanks mainly to the ‘ice cube’ running lights that have migrated into the headlights, while sharp creases and deep swage lines continue all the way to the rear where they are joined by neatly-styled light clusters and a sporty roof spoiler.

The sporty theme continues into the interior, with a dashboard angled towards the driver, appealingly hooded dials, and aluminium pedals. Quality levels feel high, with well-damped switchgear, a chunky steering wheel, and tasteful metallic highlights – although we’re not fans of the large areas of shiny black plastic (prone to scratches and fingerprints) or the illegible red temperature read-outs for the climate controls.

Bonus points, however, for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard across the range, with the top-spec First Edition model gaining wireless charging and an eight-speaker JBL stereo with a pretty decent sound.

Plus there’s a typically wide range of adjustment in the driving position and a generous amount of space even for those in the back. Boot space is a practical 395 litres complete with split-level floor, while the rear seats fold to increase that to 1,291 litres.

Under the bonnet, there’s a choice of a new 1.6-litre 114hp diesel or a pair of turbo petrol units, a 1.0-litre three-cylinder or a 1.4-litre four.

As you’d expect the 1.4 is the quickest of the bunch, completing the 0-62mph sprint in 8.6 seconds, but we felt it sounded a little harsh in the lower gears with an occasional resonance through the bulkhead on the overrun, although it settled down nicely once up to speed. The three-cylinder might give 20hp or so away to its bigger brother, but is arguably the more refined unit. Next year, a 48v mild hybrid set-up will join the line-up.

A seven-speed dual-clutch auto is available on the 1.4 and 1.6, although as standard they drive the front wheels through a slick-shifting six-speed manual.

Kia have expended considerable effort ensuring the new Ceed is more engaging than before, and that included conducting testing on UK roads. It shows, too, because the Ceed is a tidy handler, cornering flatly and with confidence, even though the steering might not offer the last word in feedback.

Kia’s engineers have managed to strike a balance between ride and handling that we think most buyers will appreciate, our only real observation being an occasional tendency to allow a touch too much road noise into the cabin over coarse surfaces. A GT model will arrive later with a sharper set-up for those that want it, but for everyone else is the new Ceed is largely on the money.

Speaking of which, the new Ceed range starts with the ‘2’ at £18,295, followed by ‘3’, Blue Edition and First Edition models. Our 1.4 First Edition tipped in at £25,750 complete with sunroof, LED headlights and an 8-speaker stereo. Some of the funkier tech – such as Lane Following Assist – is reserved for DCT models, though.

The diesel will probably interest fleet buyers with its 99 g/km emissions and economy of up to 70 mpg, although our 1.4 T-GDi petrol turned in a respectable 43.9 mpg at the end of a week’s testing.

So while the new Kia Ceed might have lost its punctuation, it’s more than made up for it everywhere else.

Tester’s Notes

  • Gloss black plastic attracts scratches, fingerprints easily; Aluminium-like finish adds welcome touch of class
  • Typically clear instruments, solid-feeling controls; Temperature controls almost totally illegible
  • Excellent cabin space up front, decent headroom in the rear despite sloping roof
  • Boot is generous, although has a high lip
  • CarPlay/Android Auto standard across the range
  • 1.4 sounds harsh in lower gears, almost resonating against the bulkhead on overrun, but quietens down quickly to be barely inaudible
  • Slick and accurate gear-shift
  • Not much feel through the wheel, but steers and handles tidily; Touch noisy over coarse surfaces
  • 43.9mpg on test
Entry-level Price £18,295 Price as tested £25,750
Engine 1353cc 4-cyl turbo petrol Transmission 6-speed manual
Power 138hp @ 6,000rpm Torque 242Nm @ 1,500-3,200rpm
0-62 8.6 secs Top speed 130 mph
Economy 48.7 mpg CO2 132 g/km
Dimensions 4310 x 1800 x 1447 (LxWxH) Kerb Weight 1315 kg

Alex Kefford

Editor

Freelance journalist, ex-offroad driving instructor and long distance road-tripper. If you have any questions about this piece, feel free to hit me up on Twitter.