BACK in October last year Kia introduced the new XCeed - the fourth model to join the all-new Ceed family alongside the hatch, estate and ProCeed models.
Priced from £20,795 to £29,195, the eight-model line-up offers a choice of four turbocharged engines, two transmissions and the usual Kia 1,2 and 3 trim levels as well as the loaded First Edition model I have been sampling..
The XCeed is the latestcrossover utility vehicle to arrive in a crowded market and it offers handsome and distinctive styling with only the platform and the front doors carried over from the hatch.
It has a sporty athletic stance, a long bonnet and a prominent grille as well as a larger lower air intake, ‘ice cube' LED lights topped by a slim turning signal that flows back over the wheel arches and new narrow tail lights.
The designers have used heavily creased lines that run horizontally across the tailgate and rear bumper to give the car a wider appearance, while smart alloys, roof rails and strong colours give the XCeed a trendy image.
As you would expect the interior is similar to the other Ceed siblings with a sculptured centre console angled towards the driver.A floating infotainment system has a prominent position at the top of the dashboard while the lower section of the instrument panel features touch-sensitive buttons and dials to control the audio volume, along with the climate controls.
Full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Bluetooth and a DAB radio are standard across all trims.
Move up through the grades and you will see the introduction of a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen, a navigation system with Kia Connected Services, heated seats, an eight-speaker JBL sound system, smart park assist, a panoramic sunroof, plus a whole lot more.
The cabin has a classy feel to it with plenty of soft touch surfaces and satin chrome dashboard trim plus a yellow colour pack for First Edition models that adds black upholstery with vibrant yellow stitching on the seats and doors, yellow seat piping and a blend of gloss black and yellow highlights throughout the car. It also offers all the toys you would expect in a flagship model.
Petrol engines come in the form of a three cylinder 1.0-litre 118bhp unit or a 1.4-litre delivering 138bhp. There are two Smartstream diesel options that are the cleanest the company has ever developed, and these are offered in 1.6-litre with outputs of either 114bhp or 134bhp.
The First Edition model came with the 1.4 petrol engine mated to a nice and efficient seven-speed DCT automatic transmission. It comes with yellow body paint as well as unique interior trim and at £29,195 is the most expensive car in the range.
The engine offered bags of punch and takes only 9.2 seconds to reach 62mph before going on to a top speed of 124mph. It is smooth and flexible and reasonably economical with an average combined figure of 40.4mpg and emissions of 134g/km.
The XCeed provides a slightly elevated driving position with great all-round visibility and all the dials, controls and instruments are easy to read and use. There is plenty room for four adults to travel in comfort and five for shorter journeys.
The XCeed is very agile and easy to manage in town traffic or on the open road. It is also a comfortable motorway cruiser and the steering is light but accurate. It is a well balanced car and the handling is always predictable.
This automatic version also allows you to change a drive mode from Normal to a Sport setting which alters the steering and throttle responses but I really could not detect too much difference when I tried it out.
To make it family friendly the XCeed has a boot capacity of 426 litres that increases to 1,378 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. First Edition models feature 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats along with a powered tailgate. There are also a range of storage options inside the cabin.
All the latest safety features are comprehensive across the XCeed line-up with the likes of Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Forward Collision Warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, Blind-spot Collision Warning, Smart Parking Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, High Beam Assist and Lane Following Assist which controls acceleration, braking and steering by tracking vehicles and road markings ahead to keep the car in-lane and a safe distance from any cars in front.
As with all other Kia models the XCeed is covered by the company's extensive seven years or 100,000 miles warranty.