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Driven: Kia XCeed PHEV. Image by Kia UK.

Driven: Kia XCeed PHEV
Kia combines crossover and hatchback, petrol and electric, all into one body. Is the XCeed PHEV any good?


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Kia XCeed PHEV

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Good points: smooth, refined, nice to look at and sit in, good economy, well-equipped

Not so good: slow, largely unremarkable in every regard, not cheap as a PHEV 3, what's the point of it?

Key Facts

Model tested: Kia XCeed 1.6 GDi PHEV 3 DCT
Price: XCeed range from 21,055; PHEV 3 as tested from 30,695
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder normally aspirated GDi petrol with 44.5kW electric motor and 8.9kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission: six-speed dual-clutch DCT automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door plug-in hybrid crossover-hatchback
CO2 emissions: 32g/km (VED Band 1-50 Alternative Fuel Cars: 0 in year one, then 145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 201.8mpg
Top speed: 107mph
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Power: petrol 105hp at 5,700rpm, electric 60hp, system combined maximum output 141hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: petrol 147Nm at 4,000rpm, electric 170Nm, system combined maximum output 265Nm at 4,000rpm
Boot space: 291-1,243 litres

Our view:

This is one of those cars where we feel we're perhaps being a bit hard on it in the overall reckoning. In principle, this Kia XCeed plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is a perfectly well-executed, handsome, stylish and likeable machine. The thing is, though, it's all a bit forgettable. And do you really need a C-segment crossover based on a C-segment hatchback when you've already got a C-segment crossover that isn't based on a C-segment hatchback?

Hmm, debatable. Which is not to say the XCeed doesn't have its merits. For starters, it looks good on the outside. Not dramatically dashing or anything, but clean and purposeful and particularly good in bold colours. That it sits 32mm higher off the deck than a Ceed hatchback is not immediately obvious, but if you want another 12mm of, er, jacking-up, the plusher First Edition on its 18s is fully 44mm taller and therefore has 184mm of ground clearance (the underside of this 16-inch-wheel-shod 3, for those of you not sharp at maths, is a 'mere' 172mm above the floor).

Either way, it's not exactly towering and vertiginous, a feeling which is exacerbated by the incredibly car-like driving position once you climb aboard. Sitting at the XCeed's wheel, there's practically nothing that reminds you of the extra height you've purchased. That being said, the interior is very nice. Spacious, well-finished and generously equipped in this 3 model, there's a large and impressive touchscreen for the infotainment on the dash, while the cluster features analogue dials with a central supervision display on this 3 (the First Edition has a full 12.3-inch digital binnacle). The seating position is good, the steering wheel feels solid in your hands and in general, the XCeed's interior gains full approval.

Well, it would do, were it not for the fact that - as ever with a PHEV - the boot space is savaged by the part-electric magubbins. Kia sites the 8.9kWh battery under the rear bench, alongside a reduced 37-litre fuel tank, but even with that natty engineering solution in play you're looking at 291 litres of capacity in the back. That's 104 litres less than the plain Ceed hatch, when a combustion-only XCeed goes in the other direction and offers a further 31 litres of boot space with 426 in total. Some drop to have the PHEV's capabilities, eh? Mind, if you need cargo capacity over all else and you're dead-set on a Kia, try either the Ceed SW or handsome Proceed wagons out for size.

To drive, the XCeed is decently sorted. It rides well and steers positively, with little excessive body roll or pitch and dive to report, and the suppression of exterior noise factors is executed to a high standard. The calibration of the brakes is good, as they don't feel 'two-stage' in their switch from energy recuperation to the actual bread-and-butter job of retardation. Aside from this, the Kia is no great shakes in the corners, granted, but then few compact crossovers aimed at providing stress-free daily convenience ever are, so that's not a major failing.

It also did pretty well on fuel, volts and general economy. We drove it for 450 miles across the week, with three plug-in charging sessions (two on a domestic socket at three hours apiece and then about 90 minutes on a public connection) in that time, and that meant that - despite lengthy and repeated motorway work - the XCeed PHEV turned in a commendable overall figure of 68.1mpg across more than ten hours of mixed-roads motoring. Its best result was a phenomenal 872mpg on a short journey with a full battery, which would have been 999mpg-plus (or infinite) if our stupid lead foot hadn't triggered the GDi into life for one A-road overtake.

We'll come back to matters of motoring speed in a moment, but when it comes to charging rates, like many a PHEV the XCeed isn't that rapid. Its 8.9kWh battery has no capacity to be charged on a DC connection, a system which some other PHEVs are starting to adopt these days, so you're looking at two-and-a-quarter hours to go from 0-100 per cent charge on a 6.6kW AC hook-up. Domestic single-phase 2.3- and 3.3kW sockets ought to do the same job in four to five hours, which we suppose isn't too bad. For that, Kia reckons you'll get up to 37 miles of all-electric motoring from the XCeed, although we suspect 25-30 miles on a charge is more realistic in warm weather, and perhaps more like 20 miles when it's cold and miserable outside. So, say, in the depths of July.

Anyway, all fine. Except that, after this relentless torrent of lukewarm faint praise, we don't have any real standout highlights to give you about a week in the Kia's company. And there are a few issues. We said we'd talk about speed and we have to be honest, we haven't driven a car as gutless as the PHEV for many a long year. Weighing in at just four kilos shy of 1.6 tonnes, modest combined outputs of 141hp and 265Nm (delivered, according to the bumf, at exactly the same 4,000rpm engine-operating zone) struggle to shift the Kia along with any great alacrity at all. Hence why we unwittingly woke the petrol engine on that 'best economy run' we mentioned earlier, because we went for an overtake hoping the electric motor would manage it, realised pretty damned sharpish it wouldn't, panicked, floored the throttle and then were still quite alarmed to note the XCeed wasn't exactly firing forward at any great rate with both its forms of propulsion lit up.

Honestly, being able to do 0-62mph in less than five seconds is by no means an essential for modern motoring, but the Kia felt desperately lethargic at times. Especially up hills on partial throttle. And the worst of it is, the only thing we really remember looking back on our time with the XCeed is that one detail: it was, like, comically slow. Everything else about it was wholly unremarkable. You got in, started it up (or listened to the electric motor whirr into life, depending on the battery's state of charge), clicked it into D on the DCT (kudos to Kia for using this transmission type, instead of the roaring horror of a CVT) and then went wherever it was you were going. You got out, you never looked back and then you did it all again the next time. The absolute epitome of A-to-B motoring, the XCeed PHEV. The car-as-appliance, writ large.

The problem with this is that there are plenty of existing products which'll do everything the XCeed PHEV can, only for a lot less cash than almost 31,000 - not least the Stonic within the same manufacturer's ranks. Seriously, there are so many B- and C-segment crossovers already flooding the market, and the current Ceed range is so good as it is anyway, that we think our main sticking point is we can't exactly see the point of the XCeed. It doesn't really add anything to the driving experience of the standard hatchback, apart from a complete dearth of pace.

And yet, we can't mark it down any more than we have in the overall rating, because the XCeed PHEV does nothing significantly wrong either. It has all Kia's usual strengths, including that incredible manufacturer warranty, and it looks nice inside and out as well. Therefore, we conclude by saying the Kia XCeed is there for you as one of many, many similar options in a heavily congested marketplace. If your internal flow-chart 'yes/no' diagram ultimately ends you up at this PHEV's door, you won't be disappointed with it at all. But then, it's highly unlikely you'll be thrilled by it either.


Citroen C4 Cactus: was loveable and charming pre-facelift as a crossover, now just feels woefully confused and woolly when trying to be a plush hatch. Avoid... or buy the non-Cactus C4 instead.

Ford Focus Active: Ford will offer you the 'Factive' as a hatchback as well as the more sensible wagon and it's about the only direct rival to the XCeed. The Focus is much better to drive, in case you're wondering, if still a bit pointless in the grand scheme of things.

Hyundai Kona: let's suggest for some reason you are wildly against the Kia XCeed or Stonic and you don't speak Portuguese. In which case, we can't imagine for a moment why the mechanically similar, perfectly pleasant and notably cheaper Hyundai Kona would offend you.

Matt Robinson - 16 Oct 2020    - Kia road tests
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- XCeed images

2020 Kia XCeed PHEV UK test. Image by Kia UK.2020 Kia XCeed PHEV UK test. Image by Kia UK.2020 Kia XCeed PHEV UK test. Image by Kia UK.2020 Kia XCeed PHEV UK test. Image by Kia UK.2020 Kia XCeed PHEV UK test. Image by Kia UK.

2020 Kia XCeed PHEV UK test. Image by Kia UK.2020 Kia XCeed PHEV UK test. Image by Kia UK.2020 Kia XCeed PHEV UK test. Image by Kia UK.2020 Kia XCeed PHEV UK test. Image by Kia UK.2020 Kia XCeed PHEV UK test. Image by Kia UK.


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