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Kia tinkers with its lower-medium hatch to keep it competitive.
Automatic headlights, LED rear lights, front fog lights, 16in alloy wheels, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, 8in touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity and voice control, 4.2in driver display, air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, reversing camera, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, high beam assist, driver attention with leading vehicle departure warning, hill start assist, lane follow assist.
Kia may be picking up plenty of (justified) attention for its new electric EV6, but that doesn't mean it's neglecting the other models in its range. The Ceed lower-medium car, for instance, has just undergone a mid-life facelift, with the current third-generation version (the first without an apostrophe in its name) having first arrived in 2018. Changes include a restyled front end with large side air intakes, a gloss black grille and redesigned headlights, while at the rear there's a new gloss-black diffuser and a newly smoother-out area between the tail-lights, which Kia says has been created to better display its new logo. Interior changes are mostly limited to new trim options, though the range-topping GT Line equipment grade tested here does get a redesigned gear knob - a cynic might say the fact this is highlighted in Kia's press material shows how light the updates have been overall.
Fortunately, the new gear knob is not the only noteworthy thing about the Ceed's interior. The central infotainment screen, which measures 10.25in with all but entry-level models, is clear and easy to use with useful touch shortcut buttons. However, the Ceed does lack the fully-digital dash now seen with many rivals, although the 4.2in driver display you do get is at least graphically smart.
With GT-Line spec the interior has lots of soft touch materials including leather, and the steering wheel in particular is an attractively sporty item, but the overall aesthetic is rather dark and gloomy. Controls feel fairly high-quality to the touch, including the welcome physical heating controls. We did, however, find the central armrest a bit awkwardly placed when using the gear lever or especially the (manual) handbrake.
The interior also offers decent rear legroom and good headroom, while a 395-litre boot is slightly above average for the segment, and features an adjustable floor allowing a flat loading lip to be traded for extra space.
The Ceed is fundamentally good to drive, feeling safe, reliable and easy, yet with a good level of entertainment factor and dynamic ability in corners thanks to fully independent suspension. It strikes a reasonably good balance between body control and comfort, with maybe just a bit more bias towards the former.
The 1.5-litre petrol engine tested here, first introduced earlier this year ahead of the facelift, delivers fairly strong acceleration, although the alternative 1.0-litre petrol does provide better fuel economy and emissions figures without feeling significantly underpowered. A mild hybrid diesel is also available, but there are no plug-in options.
Another point in the Ceed's favour is that it offers good value for money, with our test car coming in cheaper on price than equivalent versions of rivals such as the Ford Focus, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf. It's enough to ensure the Kia comes out just ahead of those models on a cost-per-mile basis, and also incurs the cheapest BIK payments, with the Ford and Skoda's slightly lower emissions not enough to make up the P11D difference.