THE Kia Ceed family is growing and the latest arrival is the icing on the cake with compact SUV styling, all the on-board technology you could wish for and great all-round handling.
It's called the XCeed and is based on the five-door Kia Ceed with the same wheelbase. But it adopts some real attitude and, design-wise, it's only the front doors that are carried over from its sibling model.
The XCeed looks impressive from any approach with its muscular profile, long bonnet, prominent front grille with large lower air intake, ‘ice cube' LED lights with slim indicators that flow back over the wheel arches, privacy glass and 18-inch alloys to complete the look.
Move inside and the XCeed is spacious, upmarket and packed with techno treats.
Our high-end XCeed 3 model, costing £25,675, boasted the likes of a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a DAB radio, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, plus a reversing camera with dynamic guidelines. There are heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and plenty more besides.
All the controls, dials and readouts are perfectly positioned with the centre console slightly angled towards the driver for convenience and the floating infotainment system neatly situated above the dashboard.
The car was powered by a 1.6-litre 134bhp diesel engine matched to a six-speed manual gearbox and it could complete the 0-60mph sprint in 10.2 seconds, topping out at 122mph. According to official figures, this XCeed can deliver combined fuel economy of 53.3mpg with carbon emissions of 138g/km.
Comfort levels within the car are high and the driver's seat has plenty of adjustment to find the perfect position. A couple of adults can stretch out in the back and there is enough room for a third to be added if they don't mind rubbing shoulders.
Out on the open road the XCeed feels nicely balanced and the road holding is confident through long sweeping bends. On motorways it cruises with ease at the national speed limit and there is always plenty of power on tap from the punchy diesel engine.
The acceleration through the six-speed transmission is smooth and responsive, and overtaking slower moving traffic on country lanes is no problem at all. In addition, the slightly elevated driving position results in good all-round visibility when weaving through the busier city centre traffic with cars and pedestrians darting out from all angles.
Noise levels within the car are fairly well suppressed unless it's driven particularly hard when the engine develops quite a growl. But generally engine, road surface and wind noise are kept to a minimum.
Any compact SUV needs to have all the practicality bases covered and the XCeed does just that with a well-sized boot that can hold 426 litres of kit - a limit that increases to 1,378 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped down.
Elsewhere, there are numerous convenient storage compartments scattered throughout the cabin, including a glovebox, deep door pockets with a section for bottles, a covered tray in front of the gearstick with a USB port, practical cup holders, a central cubby box, pockets in the seat backs and a drop-down sunnies holder.
And completing this impressive all-rounder is a whole host of safety kit to protect occupants, pedestrians and help prevent accidents happening in the first instance.
Safety systems on the XCeed include lane keeping assist, high beam assist, driver attention warning, forward collision avoidance assist, hill start assist, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, plus a full suite of airbags.