Car makers have a long tradition of coming with peculiar names for their products. Kia is no exception.
There’s the Stonic, which sounds like a winter cold cure, but is actually a rather nice small car, and the XCeed, which put me in mind of Mr. Kipling’s “exceedingly good cakes”, which rather gives my age away.
Baffling moniker aside, I rather liked the XCeed.Kia is promoting the car as having sports utility vehicle (SUV) looks without the mechanical complexity and fuel consumption penalties of all the four-wheel-drive stuff. This is slightly misleading, because the XCeed lacks the steroidal, pumped-up vulgarity of some SUVs. It is a handsome car with an almost coupé-like profile,a little reminiscent of the Mazda 3.
The confident styling aesthetic continues inside the car. The cabin uses good quality materials and is very nicely detailed, with controls and instruments that are unfussily laid out and easy to use from the first time you drive the car.
The XCeed has soft, large and comfortable seats and is genuinely spacious, with the rear seat area being particularly generous and the boot is a decent size. Some SUV have surprisingly small cabins, despite their bulky exteriors.
Choose from three engine sizes – a 1-litre, three-cylinder petrol, a 1.4 four cylinder and 1.6 diesel and a petrol/electric hybrid that uses a 1.6 petrol motor.
I haven’t tried this yet, but the other variants are quiet and refined. The little engine is more than capable of punting this Golf-sized vehicle without a lot of mechanical hysteria. Only when setting off from rest does it need a bit of gear lever rowing to get things moving, but the car gets to 62 in about 10 seconds, which is perfectly respectable.
The diesel is easy going and would make the most sense for a higher mileage motorway driver. Performance-wise, the 1.4 petrol is somewhere in between. The XCeed handles well, with light, direct steering, aided by independent rear suspension. The ride is firm-ish but comfortable. This is a car that is thoroughly pleasant to spend time in, there isn’t a great deal to write about here.
Some rivals roll a little less on corners, or have slightly more positive gear changes than the rubbery XCeed (the manual version has six gears, and there’s also an eight-speed self-shifting transmission), but in the real world few will notice.
This is a good looking, accomplished car, if not an especially cheap one, as prices range for £20,995 to £30,695. Since most people seem to buy cars using monthly personal contract purchase plan figures as yardsticks, this is unlikely to be a major obstacle to its success.
The XCeed is the fourth member of Kia’s Ceed range and the company reckons it will take 50 per cent of the sales. This seems entirely credible.