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The Top Gear car review: Kia Ceed
What is it like on the road?
What’s impressive is the level of refinement in all the engines. The 1.0-litre has that nice 3-cyl thrum going on, the diesel is whisper-quiet at all points except idle or when you really push it (and who does that in a diesel?), and the 1.4 petrol disappears into the background nicely. Kia has gone to great lengths to make the Ceed as refined as possible because it’s packed in more sound insulation behind the dash, above the wheel arches, and even beneath the cabin carpets. Nothing revolutionary, but it all helps.
Our choice of engine? The 1.4, please, as it offers the best compromise between pace and economy.
Responsiveness is generally good across all three, but the gearing is a fraction too long in fifth and sixth on the diesel and 1.0-litre. Fine for motorways when you’re zinging along at 70mph plus, but on back roads, there’s a bit too much gear changing needed for our liking. Uphill sections don’t help the little 1.0-litre in particular.
But it’s the handling that lets the Ceed down most. First, though, the good news. It’s comfortable, soaks up bumps easily and mostly wafts along with the sort of nonchalance that would make a boring commute bearable. It’s generally a good isolator from the world outside, although the 17-inch wheels aren’t as comfortable as the 16s.
But there’s not much connection between driver and machine, and everything feels a bit synthesised. It’s arguable that this doesn’t matter on a family hatch and it’s certainly far better than Kias of old. But the last little bits of chassis finesse are missing, despite the inclusion of a torque vectoring system that brakes the inside wheel in a corner.
Picture that one time where a back road opens up in front of you, all the drudgery of life clears away and you fire up the tarmac, adjusting the car as you’d like with either a throttle tweak or a steering shift. Not quite Vanishing Point, but you get the picture. The Focus has this sort of manoeuvrability but the Ceed doesn’t - it’s these fine margins that the Ceed can’t quite nail.