Review: Kia Cee'd (2012 – 2018)

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Comes with Kia's seven-year warranty as standard. Rides and handles very well on standard Hankook Kinergy Eco tyres.

Far better on 15-inch wheels than on 17-inch wheels. Diesel is a bit too long geared.

Kia Cee'd (2012 – 2018): At A Glance

Kia’s ascent to the top tier of manufacturers in the small hatch market continues apace with the current Cee’d five-door hatch range. Where its predecessor majored on reliability and Kia’s superb warranty to lure in customers, the present car launched in 2013 has a great many more charms.

Of course, the superb seven-year warranty remains and reliability is as good as any in the class. However, the Cee’d now has great looks, driver appeal and a stylishly good looking cabin to tempt buyers away from the usual mainstream offerings.

Helping in the looks department are the current car's longer, lower stance, though this does not impact on cabin space. Instead, there is ample room for the front and rear passengers, as well as a generous boot. The inside is also made from sturdy, good looking and pleasant to touch materials.

There is also a large amount of standard equipment fitted to even the most basic Kia Cee’d hatch, showing the Korean firm has lost none of its focus on good value as it has climbed steadily upmarket in the look and feel of its cars.

This rise in quality and appeal is also evident in the way the Cee’d drives. There’s a range of petrol and diesel engines that provides everything from 76.3mpg and 97g/km carbon dioxide emissions to the punchy and fun 204PS 1.6-litre turbo petrol motor in the GT model.

While not offering the outright best driving dynamics in the small hatch class, the Kia Cee’d is one of the better cars in its sector. Even so, the Cee’d is a comfortable, refined choice for families and for a growing number of company drivers.

KIA cee'd 2012 Road Test

KIA cee'd SW 2012 Road Test

KIA pro cee'd 1.0T-GDI 2015 Road Test

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What does a Kia Cee'd (2012 – 2018) cost?

Kia Cee'd (2012 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4310 mm
Width 1780–2035 mm
Height 1465–1470 mm
Wheelbase 2650 mm

Full specifications

There are no fewer than nine trim levels on offer in the Kia Cee’d. This starts with the 1, but then logic is quickly abandoned as the next two are VR7 and SR7 trims. Then it’s back to numerical sense with the 2, 3 and 4, while the 4 Tech comes with an LCD dash that can be configured in a variety of ways to display the information the driver wants.

The 4 tech also has full electric adjustment for the driver’s seat and electric lumber movement for the front passenger seat.

Rounding out the trim levels are the GT and GT Tech. Both GT models come with the configurable LCD colour display that lets the driver toggle between various screen on the main dash. They also have the GT Performance mode, which is selected by a button on the steering wheel, that gives a digital readout for speed and shows turbo boost pressure for a sportier look and feel.

The GT Tech also comes with satellite navigation, reversing camera and heated front seats to distinguish it from the GT.

Every Cee’d hatch has six airbags, air conditioning, central locking, electric front windows, stereo with MP3 connector and a Bluetooth connection for hands-free phone use. Reversing sensors are fitted to all Cee’d from the 2 upwards, while, the 3 and 4 have the same reversing camera as the Tech models.

In the 4 Tech, Kia supplies parallel parking assistance to guide the car into spaces and take care of the steering. As for the VR7 and SR7, they build on the specification of the 1 trim with projection headlights, all-round electric windows and heated door mirrors for the VR7. The SR7 does without these goodies in favour of Cornering Lights, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights and rear privacy glass.

Whether you choose a Tech model or one of the others, the Cee’d’s dash is a paragon of clarity. It’s the same story with the centre console, which eschews rows of buttons in favour of rotary controls for the most used dials on the ventilation and stereo. There are also steering wheel buttons for the stereo.

Finding the right driving position is easy and quick to manage thanks to a height adjustable driver’s seat and two-way movement of the steering column. Vision in all directions is excellent for the driver and there is plenty of space for head, legs and shoulders. This is also the case for the passengers in the Cee’d.

Kia has also found lots of space for luggage, with 380-litres of boot space available before you need to tip the 60/40 split and fold rear seat that can release up to 1318 litres of cargo capacity.

Child seats that fit a Kia Cee'd (2012 – 2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Kia Cee'd (2012 – 2018) like to drive?

There are five engines available for Kia Cee’d customers to choose from. The opening shot comes from the 1.4-litre petrol motor that has 98PPS at its disposal and is good for 47.1mpg and 139g/km carbon dioxide emissions.

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to buy into the Cee’d range, this is it, and it comes with a six-speed manual gearbox that changes between gears with a light, easy action. As you might expect, this engine is no ball of fire when it comes to performance, recording 0-62mph in 12.8 seconds, so it’s really only for those with no desire to make the most of the Cee’d abilities or cruise in comfort.

Much better is the 1.6-litre petrol motor that has 133PS to play with and takes care of the 0-62mph sprint in 9.9 seconds, which is almost a whole three seconds quicker than its 1.4-litre sibling. This makes a marked difference to the feel and agility of the Cee’d hatch, turning it into a car capable of dealing with motorways as easily as it does town duties.

Even so, the 133PS 1.6 doesn’t feel particularly free revving or willing to join in the action when the driver calls up more acceleration. This creates a trade-off with this engine between achieving a reasonable pace and keeping a lid on noise levels as the motor becomes rowdy when stretched towards the upper reaches of its rev band.

All of this plays in favour of choosing on of the two turbodiesel engines fitted to the Kia Cee’d. It might be seem easy to discount the 89PS 1.4-litre diesel on grounds of its small power output for a car of this size and class nowadays.

Yet, the 1.4 CRDi diesel is much nippier than the smaller of the petrol engines, turning in 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds to prove it. The fact you get 65.7mpg average economy and 114g/km CO2 output that both easily better the petrols’ is another bonus.

There is also the issue of refinement to consider as another area where the diesel engines extend a lead over the petrol motors. This is all the more glaring with the 1.6 CRDi turbodiesel, which has 126PS and is able to deliver 76.3mpg and 97g/km CO2 emissions when coupled to the six-speed manual gearbox.

It helps it comes with Kia’s stop-start system as standard to help cut fuel bills. The 1.6-litre diesel and petrol engines can also both be ordered with six-speed automatic gearboxes.

There is one other engine in the Cee’d line-up, but this 204PS 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine is reserved solely for the GT models. Not quite a full-blown hot hatch, the GT sees off 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds and has a top speed of 143mph.

It’s a willing performer, if not quite packing the punch of a Volkswagen Golf GTI, though 38.2mpg average consumption and 143g/km emissions give it acceptable running costs for a hot-ish hatch model. The Cee’d GT gives a good account of itself on curvy country roads.

KIA cee'd '4' 1.6CRDI 7-speed DCT

For 2016 KIA swapped the 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission on its 1.6 diesels for a more CO2 friendly 7-speed DCT. 

While we obviously can't comment on its long term reliability prospects (even though they are backed by the KIA 7-year warranty), we can tell you what it's like to drive.

We had the good fortune to be able to drive it at the Millbrook test centre, using both the 'Alpine' route that replicates every kind of corner you are ever likely to encounter, together with every kind of incline, and the 'City' route that provides the opportunity to find out what it is like suffering repeated stop-starts.

On the 'Alpine' route it was absolutely fine, choosing its gears well, and not panic-changing down half way through a bend. The handling, too, on 225/45 Hankook Ventus Prime 2 directional tyres was predictable and very good. Perfectly adequate steering feedback. Took the hairpin beds very confidently.

I was less happy using the paddles in manual mode, partly because it was pointless, and partly because the system took over anyway and did a perfectly decent job of it, even re-starting on the steep incline with no trouble.

On the 'City' course, replicating stop-start traffic it always took off smoothly. No problems reversing into a parking space either.

Power is now 136PS; torque 300Nm, 0-60 10.2, top speed 124mph, NEDC mpg 67.3 and emissions just 109g/km which is excellent for a diesel automatic. Price isn't so friendly, though, at a hefty £23,730.






Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.0T GDI 118 58 mpg - 115 g/km
1.0T GDI 98 58 mpg - 113 g/km
1.4 46–47 mpg 12.4 s 138–143 g/km
1.4 CRDi 66–67 mpg 13.0 s 109–114 g/km
1.6 CRDi 66–79 mpg 10.5–11.5 s 94–112 g/km
1.6 CRDi DCT 67–72 mpg - 103–109 g/km
1.6 GDI 47–52 mpg - 124–137 g/km
1.6T GDI 38 mpg - 170 g/km

Real MPG average for a Kia Cee'd (2012 – 2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

26–65 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Kia Cee'd (2012 – 2018)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What's the best automatic for covering 20,000 motorway miles a year?

What medium-sized automatic would you recommend for motorway driving, up to 20k miles per year. I had a Mazda 3 1.5 petrol but it was thirsty. I'm looking for something less with a budget of £8k-£10k.
A Kia Cee'd would be a good option. The 1.6 CRDi auto is reliable and efficient, and your budget will get a 2016 model which will still have some of its manufacturer warranty remaining. Also consider the very similar Hyundai i30 with the same engine or a Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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