Given the name, it’s not surprising the Focus Active-rivalling SUV is based on the Ceed family hatchback. However, unlike Ford with the Focus Active or Škoda with the Octavia Scout or even Volvo with its V40 Cross Country models, Kia believes the segment is worth the additional investment to give provide drivers with car that goes beyond raised suspension and plastic cladding. The only body panels the XCeed shares with the Ceed are the front doors. The XCeed is longer, taller and wider than the Ceed, and, just look at the pictures, a whole lot more interesting. Possibly even more exciting.
The styling changes go as far as to include new LED front headlights, standard across the line-up, and new tail-lights too. The additional length means there’s more room in the boot (426 litres) than the hatch, but less than either the Proceed or the Ceed estate.
The raised suspension with softer springs also means there’s greater ground clearance, up 44mm, over the regular Ceed hatch. This, plus some additional tech to improve ride comfort over potholes and uneven ground, including hydraulic bump-stops, mean the XCeed will navigate tougher terrain far better than it’s sibling cars.
However, Kia hasn’t opted to change the car’s drive system, so power still goes through the front wheels and there isn’t even a clever traction-control system for added off-road grip, so don’t be fooled by the looks. In snow or slippery grass the XCeed will have no more traction than the rest of the Ceed range.
The revisions to the suspension work well. The XCeed’s ride comfort is impressive in the class. It’s particularly good at absorbing road imperfections from potholes and speedbumps without noise or fuss in terms of kick-back through the steering.
Oddly, Kia claims there’s no more body roll than the rest of the Ceed range, despite 7% softer springs at the front and 4% softer at the rear. The XCeed is not a sporty car and feels more inclined to lean on a twisty b-road. For the rest of the time, be that motorway or town driving, the car is XCeed-ingly (sorry, not sorry) comfortable.
The steering is light and not particularly blessed with driver feedback, but turn-in is reassuringly immediate and the car is easy to position accurately on the road.
Power comes from a range of two petrol engines (118hp 1.0-litre, 138hp 1.4-litre) and a 1.6 diesel in two power outputs (114hp and 136hp). In the UK, only the 1.4-litre will be available with an auto, a smooth-shifting and predictable seven-speed double-clutch item. The manual is light and accurate with a well-balanced clutch.
Inside the XCeed, Kia has added a new infotainment and satnav system with connected car technology plus a new digital dashboard.
Overall, the new looks, revised suspension and additional tech mean the XCeed gives Kia a much more appealing hatchback than the more staid-looking hatchback on which it’s based. And it’s no surprise that Kia expects the XCeed to outsell the rest of the Ceed family combined.
Stat attack: Kia XCeed 1.4 T-GDI First Edition
Price: £20,795 for the range, £28,095 for the above spec
Engine: 1.4-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Power/torque: 140PS (138bhp) at 6,000rpm/242Nm (178lb ft) at 1,500-3,200rpm