KIA XCeed 1.5 T-GDi GT Line 7DCT – Decent upgrade

When KIA unveiled the XCeed in late June 2019, the automaker talked about it as a sportier alternative to SUVs, and it was the fourth body style in the Ceed lineup at the time. However, the Kia XCeed itself isn’t just a trend-setter and has been selling very well in our “home” market too. The XCeed underwent a facelift last year, so let’s take a closer look at it…
You’ll recognise the facelifted XCeed primarily by its redesigned front end with a new bumper, revised bonnet and new Full LED headlights, which are already standard. The front lights have only been given automatic high beam mode, but still don’t offer a sculpting function in high beam mode, which is quite a shame.
The front lights with three vertical segments now also include fog lamps, which were previously located on the sides of the bumper. Their place in the upgraded version has been taken by new vents with air vents that direct airflow around the wheels and also help cool the front brake discs. The redesigned front end also reduces aerodynamic drag and thus also has an impact on fuel consumption.
At the rear, the lower part of the bumper has been changed, especially the lower part, which is now more pronounced, and the black hint of the diffuser is a new feature. The decorative elements on the sides don’t play so much on the exhaust tips anymore, and that’s a good thing. A classic, possibly twin exhaust tailpipes would have been more aesthetically pleasing here but… that’s the trend nowadays. The rear is still dominated by the beautiful dark taillights with hexagonal LED segments, which are particularly eye-catching with their graphics and dynamic turn signals. However, you only get them with the tested GT-Line trim.
Absolutely nothing has changed from the profile. Even after the facelift, the Kia XCeed remains a classic crossover that combines the characteristics of different kinds of cars. The bodywork is reminiscent of a hatchback, but it’s a little more rounded and, with the sloping roofline, can also look a little like a coupe. So let’s boldly call the XCeed Crossover-Coupe…
This stylish body stands on a chassis with more ground clearance. This is 184 millimetres on the test car with 18-inch wheels, but reaches just 172 millimetres with the smaller 16s. For the record, the KIA Sportage, which is a classic lower-midsize SUV, has a stated minimum ground clearance of 170 mm.
Compared to the classic hatchback Ceed, the XCeed is slightly larger. While the wheelbase is the same for both vehicles, the crossover’s longer overhangs make the five-door hatchback grow a fat 85mm in length, thanks to the crossover’s 4395mm wheelbase. At the same time, the XCeed is 26mm wider, 36mm longer and offers a more spacious boot – 426 litres versus 395, and 1378 versus 1291 litres with the rear backrests folded down.
As part of the modernisation, the interior has also been slightly rejuvenated. There are gloss black areas around the automatic gear lever, a frameless interior rear-view mirror, and the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster has been given newer, redesigned graphics along the lines of the Sportage or Niro.
The dashboard delights with a centre panel angled towards the driver, from the top of which the upgraded 10.25″ infotainment display protrudes. Fortunately, this is still complemented by rotary dials for volume adjustment and multi-function buttons, and there are still touch pads below the screen serving as shortcuts to the most important functions.
The cool thing is that KIA didn’t use a touchpad with function switching in the XCeede but kept a separate panel with physical dials for climate control settings. The temperature is additionally controlled by rotary dials, which is probably the best way to go about “reinventing” yourself. The only complaint goes to the outdated segment displays in these controls, which look like they’re from the 1990s. Classic buttons are also found next to the gear lever, including a button to deactivate the Start/Stop system.
The GT-Line trim’s sporty flair is helped, for example, by aluminium pedals, and a special feature here is the black headliner combined with sports seats that have suede centres and leather side panels. The sports seats are very comfortable and, above all, offer really solid lateral guidance. With my build, I did struggle for a while with the slightly narrower center but after a few rides I got used to it.
The XCeed performs very well in terms of rear row space, and with my height of 186 centimetres, I found plenty of headroom and legroom on the rear bench. And that’s behind a seat set up for myself. The XCeed offers plenty of space for its class, and thanks to the 40:20:40 split rear backrests, there’s no shortage of variability for carrying bulkier loads. What’s more, a range reserve can squeeze under the double floor floor pan.
Five engine options are available for the facelifted Kia XCeed: the 1.0 T-GDI petrol three-cylinder, the 1.5 T-GDI and 1.6 T-GDI petrol four-cylinders, the 1.6 CRDi MHEV diesel four-cylinder and the 1.6 GDI PHEV plug-in hybrid.
The test vehicle was powered by a turbocharged 1,000bhp engine, delivering a maximum output of 118kW (160k) at 5,500rpm and peak torque of 253Nm between 1,500 and 3,500rpm. It spins the front wheels exclusively, as KIA doesn’t offer a four-wheel drive system for the XCeed, just as it doesn’t offer one for the regular Ceeds. The crossover with&nbspthis engine accelerates from rest to 100km/h in just 9 seconds and runs up to 208km/h.
The engine works with turbocharging and gasoline direct injection (T-GDi = Turbocharged Gasoline Direct injection). In addition, it is equipped with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVD), Low Pressure Exhaust Gas Recirculation (LP EGR) and the now necessary Particulate Filter (GPF).
The expression of the four-cylinder is very refined, the engine is well-damped and pleasantly responsive. It picks up easily from low revs and then pulls to the limiter in the rest of the rev spectrum. It makes the XCeed feel very nimble and it has no trouble even with the left lane of the highway and a full load of traffic. It handles overtaking manoeuvres better after switching to Sport mode, as it’s not a downright powerful unit, of course. For that, the 1.6 T-GDi engine is on offer with 200hp, which can already sweep up very well even with seemingly more powerful competitors.
The automatic, 7-speed DCT transmission shifts smoothly and seamlessly most of the time, but I did encounter a few times with a bit of weird twitching when pulling away or just before stopping at an intersection. In classic mode it’s a little lethargic but it also allows for more brisk downshifts, for which it’s advisable to switch it to sport mode, where the gearbox readily dials the engine in and holds the lower gear for longer. Too bad that the paddles under the steering wheel have disappeared and on the shifter there is a typical “illogical” + and – shift in the opposite direction than it should be…
The engine revs to around 1,700rpm at 90mph, 2,100 at 110 and an even 2,500rpm at 130 motorway. Consumption has settled at 6.3l/100km over the week and some 800 miles driven, which, given the taller body structure, is a good figure. The carmaker’s claimed combined average of 6.2 to 6.4 was therefore good even in brisk driving.
The chassis left a bit of an awkward impression. The XCeed is the only one of the Ceed family to use hydraulic shock stops on the front axle as standard, plus it has slightly softer springs – front by seven per cent, rear by four per cent. The car also gets a dynamic shock absorber for the rear transverse strut.
That’s all well and good, but in the end, gone is the precise and German-stiff chassis of the classic Ceed that I loved so much. Here you can feel the increased center of gravity and much softer tuning, which results in much worse behavior in turns and more body roll. If you strip away the sporty suspension, the result is a very pleasantly comfortable car that soaks up the vast majority of bumps superbly without bothering the crew with vibration or banging.
In base Amber trim and with the weakest litre three-cylinder, the XCeed starts at €19,590. In the tested GT-line trim, which offers very decent equipment and with the tested motorisation starts at €31,090. So it’s up to everyone to compare the benefits of a higher chassis and softer tuning in conjunction with a coupe-style body and a classic hatchback, which has  a lower price and greater practicality. The rejuvenated XCeed has brought only very subtle changes, which is perhaps a good thing in the end. The KIA XCeed remains an immensely likeable crossover with sympathetic handling ergonomics and an interesting range of practicality.