Review: Kia Cee'd

A car that never lets you down

26 Feb 16 Tim Barnes-Clay


  • Plenty of cabin space

  • 7 year transferable warranty

  • 5-star safety rating


  • Not as low on emissions as rivals

  • Steering can feel vague

  • Rivals are nicer to drive

Our expert rating

The Kia Cee’d started off life as a budget car back in 2006, but then like the rest of the South Korean range, it became more refined and better looking.

The 2012 model comes with three or five doors and there’s an estate version, too. The Cee’d is aimed squarely at the small family market and comes with petrol and diesel powered engines. 


This Kia isn’t the quickest off the line, but that is not the point of it. It’s a car with a seven-year warranty – pointing at how much faith the manufacturer has in it. The engines span from 1.4 and 1.6 petrols to 1.4 and 1.6 diesel motors.

The lower engines don’t have as much wallop – as you would imagine – so the 1.6 power unit, in petrol or diesel guise, is the one to target. Diesels are better for commuting lots of miles every year, but the windscreen price will be higher on used car dealer forecourts.

interior door of Kia Cee'd

Therefore, aim for one of the petrols if shorter drives are needed. If you are doing regular longish trips, the 2012-2015 1.6 diesel hatchback is worth the extra cost to buy, though. This is because it offers the best blend of power and long range economy.

It will return up to 76mpg and has enough pull to make overtaking hassle-free. Furthermore, this Cee’d makes it into the lowest road tax band due to CO2 emissions of only 97g/km.

Ride and handling

The Kia Cee’d rides nicely and it’s comfortable to drive for extended periods of time. The distinctive diesel engine rattle only really intrudes when stationary or when working the car hard. The real noise comes from the tyres on the road and the wind roar on motorways.

This can prove quite wearing after a 100 miles or so, and you have to raise your voice to have a conversation when driving at 70mph. Yet, without chit-chat and with the music turned up, this can be forgiven due to the car’s supportive seats and pleasant, easy-to-drive, nature.

The Kia grips well in corners and always feels alert. It’s a shame that the steering can feel a little emotionless at times, but this is a Kia Cee’d, not a VW Golf. The 2012 Kia Cee’d has achieved the highest five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, and that is no surprise given the kit the car is packed with.

Interior/dashboard of Kia Cee'd

Equipment includes brake assist, anti-lock brakes, stability control, six airbags and child seat anchoring points.

Interior space

The Kia Ceed’s cabin is acceptably roomy, with space for four-up. The car can handle five people, but it’s really only advisable for shorter journeys. Legroom is better in the front, but still okay for two adults in the rear and positively voluminous for two kids.

Headroom is not bad, either and, if you get the five door hatchback, then accessibility to the seats is easy for people of all shapes and ages. The three door version is fine – but not so great if the rear seats are needed regularly.

Load space is good in the hatch at 380 litres. Indeed, this is massive if you are motoring solo – and certainly big enough for family sized luggage. Kia’s trim levels are child’s play – literally. They span from 1 to 4 and then there’s 4 Tech.

Equipment is so generous that Bluetooth and electric windows feature in the basic 1 model. It’s only worth climbing the ladder to the 2 if you desire cruise control, and the 3 if you want built in sat nav. 

The 4 should be your choice if you desire leather upholstery - and the 4 Tech, as its name suggests, adds a dusting of extra ‘techie’ touches – such as parking sensors.

Kia Cee'd with the boot open and rear seats folded down

What to know before you buy

As mentioned earlier, the Cee’d has got a seven year, transferable warranty. Kia is so confident in its product, it doesn’t mind passing on its little ticket of assurance to all who buy the car, as long as the motor doesn’t go over 100,000 miles.

Therefore, the Cee’d – just like the rest of the Kia range - is reliable with very few malfunctions reported.

Alternative cars

The Kia Cee’d is a really good bet if you want a car that never lets you down. It doesn’t have the driving feel of the ever-popular Ford Focus or the finesse, drivability and cachet of a VW Golf, but it does well against such heavyweight rivals.

The 2012 Volkswagen Golf model’s 380 litre boot space matches the Kia’s, while the 2011 onwards Ford Focus only has a 316 litre boot.

Alternative cars - vw gold and kia cee'd

Overall verdict

The Kia Cee’d is perfect if you want a car that punches above its weight. It’s the textbook peace-of-mind machine that doesn’t come with any kudos. Instead, it doesn’t look half-bad. It has got all the modern kit crammed into it - and it works, come rain, snow or shine.

This is a car a family of four will love and it’s also ideal for a novice driver. Granted, it’s not as small as some first cars, but it’s so easy to drive and so dependable that it makes a great deal of sense for a beginner motorist.

Expert rating



Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money


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