I’m struggling to truly gel with our long-term XCeed. I know it’s been mentioned before, but with me spending the majority of my time pounding the country’s motorways, the problem is literally staring me in the face. It’s really grinding my gears, so to speak, and that’s the strange spacing of the ratios in sixth gear. Lower down the ‘box they are spaced perfectly, with good gaps between the different gears, and I’m able to make use of the fantastic torque that we all love about diesel cars. It’s just that when you rise from fifth to sixth gear, the revs drop by a mere 250rpm, and so cruising along at 70mph means the engine is spinning at around 2,300rpm, which is too high in my opinion. Compared to Diesel Car’s old Citroën C3 Aircross – also with a 1.6-litre diesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox – at 70mpg it would sit quietly at a touch under 2,000rpm. Perhaps predictably, there are a few consequences of the high revving top gear. Firstly it’s having an impact on the fuel economy figures and also the road noise is quite high. I’m totally lost as to why it has been engineered in this way, and I’d love Kia’s engineers to take another look.
Away from the motorway, apart from being a little clattery when cold, the engine moves the car along nicely, especially since passing the 5,000 mile mark, where it seems to have stepped up another level in terms of oomph. It’s at its best when coming off of roundabouts where the engine will pull cleanly and strongly. That’s quite unlike some diesel engines that are peaky and only have short bursts of power before you’ve run out of gear and need to change up. Overtaking is easy, placing a smile on your face on long sweeping roads, and this complements the sporty, low driving position that I’ve praised before. This is a crossover vehicle don’t forget, and I feel that Kia has got this car pretty much bang on the money. It’s practical, but not that practical, and it’s sporty, without being too sporty. It looks good, feels good – it just needs some attention to the gearbox. And with mild hybrid technology set to arrive soon, I’ve got my fingers crossed that the issue I hate most about the car will be resolved.
It’s practical, too, as I can have my driver’s seat in my 6 ft 3 position, and still a full-sized adult can sit behind me in comfort – you can’t do that in an Audi A3 Sportback. The boot, at a glance, is massive for what is essentially a hatchback design on stilts, especially when the adjustable boot floor is at its lowest, but the shape of the boot lid takes away quite a bit of the actual usable space. It’s no problem for the weekly shopping bags, but something taller like Ikea furniture stacked on top of each other may result in you struggling to close the tailgate. That said, my large frame bike will, with the seats folded flat, go in the car complete, which is a major bonus. The XCeed is a likeable, if not loveable car, that snuggles itself into your life. Did I mention that the gear ratios need sorting out?
Date arrived 8th October 2019
Fuel economy 53.3mpg (WLTPcombined) 46.2mpg (on test)
The Kia Stinger inspired ‘detonator’ key – there are few cooler keys than this!
The sound system is disappointing in the XCeed, no matter how much adjustment and fiddling I do – there’s too much treble in the front and too much bass in the back.