A strange analogy, perhaps, but I was thinking the other day, a new Kia is a bit like a new iPhone – the phone looks different, generally for the better, but switch it on and its business as usual, you’ll know exactly where to find the camera and how to alter the brightness. You’ll be instantly comfortable, at ease, and carry on as you did with your old phone, except its shiny and new. And this, I feel, sums up this Kia. Jumping into the XCeed and setting up my phone to use the Bluetooth was the same as it was in the Stinger I ran for a short while before, and the Optima before it. Even resetting the trip recorder after filling up, and to a lesser extent the chimes and beeps. It all makes for a reassuringly comfortable experience. If you try doing this on the latest Volkswagen Golf or SEAT Leon, despite both cars being pretty much identical underneath, the infotainment system on each car works totally differently and what’s more, jumping into each car for the first time, you’ll need to spend a good half an hour just prodding and swiping the screen to get your head around the very basics. It seems so unnecessary. Same beneath the surface, new on the outside, sort of. That’s what impresses me about Kias.
So really it was business as usual when the XCeed turned up, and coincidentally, I’d just bought myself a new iPhone. I quickly settled into the crossover Kia and appreciated the familiarly low driving position, supremely comfortable and supportive seats and a surprisingly entertaining driving experience. Great stuff! Naturally there’s a ‘but’ to all of this, though, and this is simply that it’s made writing about the XCeed over the last few months somewhat difficult. Top notch reliability means that nothing’s gone wrong that has required a trip to the dealership, it’s easy on the eye, and all of the controls are so user friendly.
And while the infotainment and multimedia systems operate easily enough, I’ve been disappointed with the sound quality of the audio reproduction. Sure I’ve been used to uprated Harmon Kardon systems in both my previous Stinger and Optima, but I didn’t expect there to be such a big difference. And secondly, the gearing has baffled me. As I mentioned in an early report, even in sixth gear on a motorway, the revs are too high, destroying any chance of getting fantastic fuel economy figures. It’s almost as if a seventh gear is needed to drop the revs down, something that is quite rare outside of Porsche territory. And while we’re talking about motorway speeds, the XCeed could do with a bit of extra sound insulation, as trying to have a conversation with those sat in the back is quite difficult, thanks to too much road noise entering the cabin.
I’ve always been a little cheesed off that diesel buyers have to miss out a little, as Kia doesn’t offer optional extras like other manufacturers, and the grade you see is the grade you get. So there’s no opportunity to choose a snazzier audio system or larger wheels. And one of the biggest miscarriages of justice is that the diesel engine isn’t available with First Edition specification, so buyers miss out on items like a panoramic roof, an electric rear tailgate, heated rear seats and a JBL uprated audio system. That said, the 3 trimmed car is actually well kitted out compared to rivals, just that I’d like to see a little more choice, not to mention the bright Quantum Yellow paintwork that’s reserved just for the First Edition cars.
So concluding the XCeed’s time here at Diesel Car is a majority win. It’s a solid eight out of ten car, and it’s great to drive, good to look at, decent to be in (unless you’re in the back and fancy a conversation) and it’s user friendly. No wonder Kia buyers are a loyal bunch and keep coming back for more.
Date arrived 8th October 2019
Fuel economy 53.3mpg (WLTPcombined) 49.2mpg (on test)
The engine may have a clattery edge, but it moves you along extremely well.
I would love it if there was a seventh gear.