Kia Ceed GT-Line S: long-term test review

First report: Tech-packed Kia Ceed hatchback joins our fleet and makes a great early impressionVerdict4First impressions suggest that the Ceed is going to be a relaxing car to live with. It’s pricey, but there’s so much kit, which makes it feel more special than some rivals. We already love its styling, but we’re looking forward to exploring the seemingly competent chassis even further.

Mileage: 680
Economy: 38.7mpg 

It wasn’t too long ago when there seemed to be only two ways a South Korean car maker could woo UK buyers. The first would be to give a huge warranty, and the second was to offer a standard equipment list so long that you’d spend the full duration of that cover learning to use it.

Take a quick glance at the spec sheet of the new car I’m running on our fleet, the Kia Ceed GT-Line S, and it seems the same tactics are still being employed. The seven-year warranty is there and, for the £27,185 price, Kia has thrown in every gadget at its disposal.

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On the outside, there are 18-inch alloy wheels, a sporty grille, twin tailpipes and a small spoiler, but it does without the sportier GT’s extra flashes of red trim. LED lights are standard as well. The result is a handsome five-door hatch that looks much more appealing than lesser versions of the Ceed.

But it’s on the inside where Kia has really gone to town with the GT-Line S. The part-leather/Alcantara-effect seats catch the attention first. They look great, are lovely to the touch and so far have proven comfy on longer drives. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable, while both the front chairs and even the outer two rear seats are heated.

Other smart touches include aluminium pedals and a flat-bottomed steering wheel; the latter is covered with buttons to control the functions in the 4.2-inch TFT display and the infotainment set-up. This consists of an eight-inch touchscreen which controls the sat-nav and relays images from the reversing camera. The graphics on some rivals’ systems are sharper, but the Kia’s is very clearly laid out and among the easiest to use. If your budget doesn’t stretch this far, the good news is that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on every Ceed.

GT-Line S models also cater to the audiophile thanks to an eight-speaker JBL sound system, which is relatively clear and punchy. You can connect your own music from a smartphone via USB or Bluetooth, while a large wireless charging pad can keep your device topped up when on the move.

Then there’s the safety tech. Rear cross- traffic alert, lane-keep assist, driver attention warning, city emergency braking and speed limit info reading are all included; at this price, many rivals would charge you extra for a lot of these features. More impressive still is the inclusion of an adaptive cruise control system which, as well as keeping a safe distance away from the car in front, can bring the Kia to a complete stop, move off again and steer to keep you in your lane. There’s also a park-assist function that can automatically manoeuvre the Ceed into a perpendicular bay or parallel space.

If there’s one disadvantage to the brand’s generosity on the equipment front, it’s that you can’t pick and choose the options you want on other trim levels in the range. If, for example, you’re happy with what the entry level ‘2’ model offers, but you want to upgrade the 16-inch wheels because you think they look puny – and you will, because they do – well that’s tough; you need to go for a higher trim and pay for other kit you possibly don’t want or need.

But what about the way the Ceed drives? Despite the sporty looks, the GT-Line S is fairly easy-going. The 138bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol is enough for a more-than-adequate 8.9-second 0-60mph time, but it’s teamed up with a dual-clutch gearbox that shifts lazily, and an accelerator pedal that’s not so responsive. In other words, the Kia needs an antisocial stamp on the throttle to make any decent progress, so for the most part you choose not to.

Select ‘Sport’ mode and things sharpen up, but only to a level that you’d expect in the ‘Normal’ setting in most rivals. Sport also holds on to a much lower gear, which is mildly frustrating. Find a twisty road, and the chassis feels reasonably sharp for a family hatch. It hasn’t quite got the playful feel of a Ford Focus, and it’s noisier than the new Mazda 3 at a cruise, but it strikes a pleasant balance between refinement and fun.

Overall then, the Ceed GT-Line S is off to a fine start. This isn’t just a Kia that you’d buy for sensible reasons – it’s stylish and competent enough to drive to make it a worthy alternative to the class leaders. 

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Key specs

  • Model: Kia Ceed 1.4 T-GDi DCT GT-Line S
  • On fleet since: March 2019
  • Price new: £27,185
  • Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 138bhp
  • CO2/tax: 129g/km/£140
  • Options: Premium paint (£550)
  • Insurance*: Group: 15/Quote: £446
  • Mileage: 680
  • Economy: 38.7mpg
  • Any problems?: None so far

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