Kia describes the Xceed as a ‘crossover utility vehicle’, which is a term that has a vagueness to it bordering on tautology and hints that the increase in ground clearance over the standard Ceed hatchback is at best modest. In fact, the difference is only around 40mm, but because only the front door skins are carried over from the Ceed and even the headlights are new, the Xceed feels like an entirely fresh product.
Which, of course, it isn’t. More generous body proportions beyond the rear axle mean the Xceed is 85mm longer than the Ceed and has a larger boot, but both cars are underpinned by Kia’s recently developed K2 platform. The Xceed therefore benefits from independent rear suspension, albeit with a new ‘dynamic damper’ for the crossmember said to improve rolling refinement. The front struts are now also fitted with hydraulic bump-stops, which have allowed the spring rates to be lowered for further improvements in ride comfort. And in the same vein, Kia has increased the assisted level of the electric power steering, with the aim of making the Xceed easier to drive in town.
The powertrain line-up is also recognisable from that of the Ceed. In the UK, the Xceed will be offered with 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre turbocharged T-GDi petrol engines. For long-distance drivers, a 1.6-litre ‘Smartstream’ turbodiesel with a combined fuel economy of 57.4mpg is available, and engines will be paired with either Kia’s in-house seven-speed dual-clutch automatic or six-speed manual transmissions. Meanwhile, the Xceed plug-in hybrid will use an 8.9kWh lithium ion battery and 44.5kW electric motor alongside Kia’s 1.6-litre naturally aspirated Kappa engine.
Predictably, the driveline is somewhat more ordinary than the Xceed’s wider body, chunky roof rails and utilitarian cladding for wheel arches and sills purport. There is no option for four-wheel drive, power and torque being delivered only to the summer-tyre-shod front wheels via an open differential. And while the Xceed has a drive-mode selector that can adjust steering weight, throttle response and gearshift characteristics, it goes without the electronics-based traction-enhancing systems found in some rivals.