Time really does fly past, it seems only a short time since I road tested the first Kia to hit our shores; then a basic, functional vehicle largely lacking in style and creature comforts. Several years and models on, and Kia have moved at a rapid pace providing a wide variety of vehicles to suit the needs of a wide motoring audience, delivering the total package at competitive prices.
Kia continues to build on its product line-up and a large part of success comes with the fact that the South Korean carmaker designs, engineers and build a number of models in Europe with a huge production facility in Zilina, Slovakia. The design work on my latest Test Drive was carried out in the company’s design centre in Frankfurt. Recently adding to their portfolio, and the new XCeed range, is a PHEV version which I had on test. There is no doubting that Kia offers a vehicle to suit all tastes, be it for pleasure or business and XCeed for me is difficult to place in a particular category; Kia places it in the SUV family, not so sure that I see it that way. Okay let’s say it is an SUV, it does then offer a sporty alternative to the more conventional in this class.
The PHEV version delivers very low emissions, from 32g/km and it provides business users with a highly competitive, low cost alternative to the conventional petrol and diesel editions of the XCeed. Design features makes the PHEV stand out from the other petrol and diesel models in the line-up. There is a new closed ‘tiger-nose’ grille at the front of the car which aids aerodynamic efficiency, while a charging port is integrated into the left front wing.
Whilst iving with the XCeed for a short time I did, I came to observe that it is sleeker and lower than many of its taller rivals and I feel that its styling will appeal to a wide audience. With its coupe-like profile too, this member of the Kia family delivers a helping of street cred. The interior is uncluttered, well designed and carries over the contemporary cabin architecture, with a sculptured centre console oriented slightly towards the driver.
With a lower hip point than a taller SUV, and raised ground clearance over a conventional hatchback, you are greeted with a sportier driving position allowing a better view of the road ahead. Equipped with a charging indicator, there is a visual aid to tell you that the car is charging or when the battery is fully charged. Its location on top of the dashboard means you can instantly ascertain the car’s state of charge at a glance from outside the car when it is parked on their driveway at home and the owner has not left the house yet. A floating touch screen infotainment system stands proud of the dashboard, while the lower portion of the instrument panel provides a set of touch-sensitive buttons, dials and switches to control audio volume, heating and ventilation. Layout and functionality is good and these controls have been designed to enable you to make quick changes to the cabin environment without taking eyes off the road for any longer than necessary. A brand new 10.25 inch touch screen infotainment and navigation system with Kia’s UVO Connect telematics and unique to the new Plug-in Hybrid variants, the systems incorporate new functionality to help owners locate available charging points in their vicinity, or en route to their navigation destination. The screens can also show relevant information relating to the powertrain, displaying remaining charge levels in the battery and energy usage graphics. Furthermore, you can use the touch screen system to schedule when the vehicle should charge when plugged in at home, enabling you to take advantage of cheaper off-peak energy tariffs. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are integrated as standard, as well as multi-connection Bluetooth system that enables occupants to connect two mobile devices at once; no excuse for not keeping in touch.
The powertrain’s total power and torque output is 139bhp and 265Nm of torque, enabling the XCeed to accelerate from rest to 100kph (60mph) in 10.6 seconds and if you select the Sport mode then the XCeed charges on the move. Of course you can opt to plug-in, which I suspect most will do. Re charging I managed to achieve just less than 50 km in EV mode. A well organised driver should be able to mix the power options in the interests of economy and the environment. Like the rest of the Kia range, one of the best warranties in the motor industry adds peace of mind.