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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Car's useful safety system came to my rescue

Kia XCeed drive by Steve Rogers

Safety aids are part and parcel of modern cars and barely noticed.... until they save your bacon.

Here is one such tale. I was side parked in a quiet street in the French city of Reims preparing to reverse. I thought the street was one way and started my move once a car in the opposite lane had passed. At that point the car emergency braked coming to a dead stop. In my mirror I watched a car cruise by so without cross traffic alert I would have broadsided that car.

Of all the collision stoppers this is the most useful. Drivers should be able to react to what is going on in front, but behind can be a different story and here it came to my rescue.

Suffice to say XCeed is well off for collision warning features.

What of the car? It was launched three years ago as an extra to the Ceed range and is a half hearted nod to an SUV on the basis that the suspension has been raised so it sits a little higher and comes with body armour bumpers, wheel arches and roof rails. It is also more expensive than the standard Ceed.

Asked back in 2019 was the model really needed a Kia executive replied: “We don’t build cars people don’t want.” He got that right because XCeed, which had a mild update this year, now accounts for 50 per cent of Ceed sales, helping the range to third in the sales table behind Sportage and Niro.

Apart from the higher ride height and slightly longer body this is just a variation on the theme and shares everything that is good about the Ceed. Plug in hybrid has been introduced with a 1.6 litre engine but my test car was the tried and trusted 1.5 litre petrol turbo. It’s zippy, without the adrenalin rush of a hot hatch, but proved to be surprisingly economical returning 49.9mpg over the best part of a 1000 miles and was regularly in the low fifties cruising the long, quiet French roads.

I should say this is a user friendly car for driving in Europe because the headlights will not dazzle drivers so there is no need for those stick on deflectors, and the digital speed display in the driver’s binnacle can be quickly switched to kilometres.

You get a good feel for a car on a long drive and my impression was that someone with a clear vision has looked at the dashboard and said ‘how can I make this as user friendly as possible’ and has smashed it.

The driver display is crystal clear, steering wheel buttons easy to master, there is even a switch to knock off the lane departure warning. On most cars you have to scroll through menus on a touchscreen. Annoying.

The large central touchscreen is supplemented by clearly marked quick keys along with a perfectly laid out physical display for the heating controls. You could do worse than make this the perfect model for all cars.

XCeed is easy rather than exhilarating to drive, it handles well enough without too much body roll and is comfortable, coping with just about everything our roads throw at us. My only issue was with the clutch balance which neither my wife nor I could manage smoothly pulling away in first gear.

XCeed is a decent sized family car, a small increase in length adding a few more litres to the boot space while doing nothing for back seat legroom which is no better than average.

Kia cars are always generously equipped and if you go all out with the GT-Line S you are well catered for right down to heated outer rear seats and powered tailgate.

Is it worth spending the extra for an XCeed? Probably not because you can get everything, bar the bling, on a comparable Ceed, but 50 per cent of Ceed owners think differently.

Nothing much to dislike then but if I was to be picky I look at the stunning Sportage and EV models and ask isn’t it time the ageing Ceed family got some of that razor sharp styling?

Fast facts

XCeed GT-Line S

£30,395 starts £22,995

1.5 T-GDi 158bhp; 6sp manual

0-62mph 8.7secs; 129mph

44.8mpg combined

143g/km. 1st tax £230

Insurance group 17

Boot 426-1378 litres

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