In only 15 years, Kia has transformed its exterior design culture from one of often reprehensibly dull conformity to one that must, on occasion, draw envious glances from far more established European players. Quite the same cannot be said for the brand’s interiors but, borrowing heavily from the Ceed, the Xceed’s cabin still shows remarkable improvement, with a standard of perceived quality that must be a source of pride.
Even with some brightly coloured inserts on top-level models, this is a cabin that prizes robustness and sound ergonomics above feeling inviting or lavish. In the front, passenger space is generous and, adhering to the family-car brief, there are good storage options dotted around fittings made from a variety of plastics, some of which are soft to the touch, though many are not.
So far, so Ceed – though the Xceed does come with the option of a new 12.3in TFT instrument binnacle which does its bit to lift the ambience. Uppermost 3 and First Edition specification Xceeds also get Kia’s new 10.25in touchscreen infotainment system as standard, while lower-rung models make do with the 8in unit that appears elsewhere in the Kia range.
Despite the new screen, the software itself will be immediately recognisable to those already familiar with Kia’s products. The graphics are largely the same, if a touch sharper, while the operating system itself remains as intuitive and easy to use as ever. Generally, it operates in a slick, seamless manner, though it can take a while to properly boot up when you first turn the car on.
Standard equipment is typically comprehensive. Satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto preparation, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity are all present and correct, while First Edition cars also gain an uprated JBL sound system and a new 12.3in digital instrument cluster.
Space along the rear bench is less impressive, and the difference in leg room between the Xceed and the class’s larger hatchbacks, such as the Skoda Scala, is observable long before any road test tape measure need be deployed. The Kia’s strength is that rear head room isn’t noticeably compromised by the coupé-esque roofline and middle-seat passengers with longer legs will benefit from the almost perfectly flat floor. Boot space is also increased by 31 litres over that of the Ceed, to 426 litres – good if not exceptional by the standards of the class, and made better by the split-level floor and wide aperture.