Kia Ceed sprouts

into something

special

Kia Ceed, 2018, front, action
Kia Ceed, 2018, front
Kia Ceed, 2018, side
Kia Ceed, 2018, side, action
Kia Ceed, 2018, side, static
Kia Ceed, 2018, nose
Kia Ceed, 2018, tail
Kia Ceed, 2018, interior
Kia Ceed, 2018, boot

THE third generation Kia Ceed hits UK shores on August 1 and interested buyers will immediately notice a big difference.

Yes, it looks different - it drives different too - but, more importantly, the apostrophe has gone.

The Cee'd has officially become the Ceed, which apparently means it's easier for prospective buyers to check out online. Honestly, I'm not kidding.

Ceed also stands for Community of Europe with European Design. Not the best acronym in the world but it has been designed, developed, engineered and is being produced in Europe. It's also where most of its sales will be.

And in the UK, where Kia has experienced eight years of consecutive growth, it's a vitally important part of the Kia offer. Ceed is their third most popular model with 133,000 sold here since it was first introduced in 2007.

Customers buy it, according to Kia, because of its sporty exterior design, its high spec and its industry-beating seven-year warranty. In which case, they're going to love the new model.

Despite being the same length and having the same wheelbase as its predecessor, the new Ceed is slightly lower, wider and has a longer rear overhang, giving it a more athletic look.

This is added to by the wider ‘tiger nose' grille and lower front air intake. ‘Ice cube' LED daytime running lights, previously only available on GT and GT Line models, embedded into the front bumper, are standard but now incorporated into the main headlamp units.

The rear has also had a decisive nip and tuck with new LED daytime running lights for greater visibility.

The Ceed will be priced from £18,295 when it goes on sale, which might seem slightly high, but there will not be an ‘entry level' version at launch, purely because not many buy them.

Instead, the range will feature four trim lines - the mid-range grade ‘2', a special ‘Blue Edition', grade ‘3' and a high-spec limited number of ‘First Edition' models. Full UK pricing and specification has yet to be announced.

Inside the cabin, the Ceed is the best yet with higher-quality, soft touch materials used throughout. Surfaces are finished with metallic or satin chrome trim, with buyers able to choose from a range of cloth, synthetic leather or genuine leather upholstery.

The dash is split into an upper area - for the ‘floating' touchscreen infotainment system - and lower area, housing controls for audio and heating and ventilation. The layout is also wonderfully driver-centric, the clear and logical centre console angled towards the driver's seat for ease of use.

This leaves a more minimalist, uncluttered and spacious design for the passenger side. There's literally nothing to distract from the view ahead.

The infotainment system is available as either a 7.0-inch touchscreen audio system or 8.0-inch touchscreen navigation system, with navigation and Kia Connected Services powered by TomTom, which enables full smartphone integration.

Bluetooth smartphone integration, as well as automatic lights and keyless entry are standard.

Though the new Ceed is the same length as its predecessor, it now has best-in-class leg room and rear shoulder room and boasts a larger - by 15 litres - 395-litre boot. It may not be as big as that of the Peugeot 308, but the Kia boasts more rear legroom.

The range is powered by a choice of powertrains including an updated version of Kia's popular three-cylinder 118bhp 1.0-litre T-GDi petrol engine.

With a top speed of 118mph, it officially returns 52.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 122g/km. It's a sprightly little thing and probably all you need if all your driving is local though on long and steep hills you will almost certainly need to work the gearbox.

A new 138bhp 1.4-litre T-GDi power unit replaces the earlier 1.6-litre GDi engine but is more powerful. When matched with Kia's six-speed manual it's expected to be the best-seller and it's easy to see why.

It has all the revs and torque you need, the manual is slick, and it will go from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 130mph. It also officially returns over 50mpg.

The Ceed is also available with Kia's new ‘U3' 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine. It comes in two versions - a 113bhp 74mpg model or a 134bhp 70.6mpg version.

With a six-speed manual transmission, the 113bhp version emits just 101g/km. Emissions for the high-powered engine are as low as 106g/km.

However, the diesel surprisingly seems to lack a little oomph making the new 1.4 petrol engine the best choice.

Every engine is paired with a six-speed manual transmission, while the new 1.4-litre T-GDi and 1.6-litre CRDi engines are available with Kia's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

What is immediately noticeable is how good the new Ceed it is to drive.

Engineered for European roads it is extremely good - certainly able to prove its credentials on a tight, twisting go-kart track. There's little body roll under cornering and it's remarkably stable at higher speeds.

It's an impressive step forward from its predecessor and, dare I say, virtually as good as the current Ford Focus, whose market it is targeted at.

Suffice to say its ride and handling has had a major tweak, including a new fully-independent suspension system, to make it much more sporty, even if there's still a certain vagueness to feedback from the steering.

As well as seven airbags, standard technologies include High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keeping Assist with Forward Collision Avoidance-Assist.

From launch, the Ceed range will be available in a choice of 11 colours. A selection of wheels and designs are available with buyers able to choose from 15-inch steel wheels, 16-inch steel or aluminium wheels, and 17-inch alloys.

Kia has dropped the three-door model of the Ceed so it will come only as a five-door and a Station Wagon at launch.

However, Kia will become the first mainstream manufacturer to introduce a shooting brake version to the range later this year.

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