Kia Cee'd (2012 – 2018) Review

Kia Cee'd (2012 – 2018) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
By offering value for money, but without budget styling or interior quality, the Kia Ceed makes a lot of sense.

+Impressive value for money and plenty of standard equipment, later T-GDI petrol engine offers impressive performance and economy, seven-year warranty.

-Kia badge lacks the premium cachet of some rivals, early 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines can sound thrashy, larger 17-inch alloy wheels make for a lumpy ride.

Insurance Groups are between 6–26
On average it achieves 73% of the official MPG figure

Introduced in 2012, the five-door Kia Ceed helped propel the Korean brand from boring dependability to genuine desirability. By the time it was replaced in 2018, the Ceed had proven itself a family hatchback that still offers value for money, but with an added degree of style. Does it make sense as a used buy? Find out in our Kia Ceed review.

Making a successful stand in the family hatchback sector requires a car to deliver on a range of different criteria. Kia established itself as a maker of reliable cars fit for the European market with the original Ceed. But this second-generation version moved the brand into the mainstream from 2012. 

Sharper looks were a major part in the plan to ensure the new Ceed stood out from rivals. Without getting too carried away, the trademark ‘Tiger Nose’ front grille and rakish headlights do mean the Ceed is more handsome than humdrum. It’s also much more of a looker than the mechanically similar Hyundai i30.

Where the Ceed also scores big is on interior space. It almost matches the Volkswagen Golf for boot capacity, and delivers impressive legroom both front and back. The five-door body means no problems unloading children on the school run, and even adults should feel well accommodated in the rear of the Ceed.

Despite the sportier looks on the outside, the Kia Ceed is still very much a car suited for normal commuting and family life. Other than the separate Ceed GT hot hatch, the regular model is refined and relaxing on the road. Accurate and light steering makes for an easy life when parking, and the Ceed is nimble enough to navigate tight city streets. 

The Ceed will also happily hold its own on the motorway, with an overall feeling of stability. It’s an effective all-rounder, just as buyers would expect from class favourites like the Golf or Focus. All it lacks is an outright degree of excitement, but most will be more than happy with what it offers on the road. 

This is backed by a wide range of engine options, from diminutive petrol units through to larger diesels. Some of the early 1.4-litre and 1.6 petrol engines can feel lacklustre outside of urban driving, although the later turbocharged 1.0 T-GDI petrol is far more effective. Kia also offers two diesel engines, with the 1.6-litre CRDi notable for offering strong fuel economy and respectable performance. 

Affordable running costs are one of the Ceed’s major strengths. Insurance ratings are lower than key rivals, while VED (road tax) is also unlikely to break the bank. However, the biggest selling point for the Kia is still that seven-year warranty. That it can transfer to new owners makes it a real boon for those looking at used models, adding extra reassurance to the buying process. 

Equipment levels are also strong across the range, with every Ceed featuring air conditioning and electric windows. Cruise control, rear parking sensors and alloy wheels were available on the well-priced ‘2’ specification model. 

Generous levels of standard equipment, combined with a spacious cabin and boot, tick off the important considerations for a family hatchback. Low running costs and a seven-year warranty add to the overall package of dependable transport, with just a hint of style. 

Ask Honest John

Can you recommend a reliable family car on a £7000 budget?

"A relative has had her car written off and a payout has been agreed at £7000. What replacement car do you suggest? She has 2 children and needs a medium sized reliable family car."
We would suggest something like the Kia Ceed or Hyundai i30, which can be had in hatchback or estate from depending on how much room is required. They are easy to drive, comfortable and offer good interior space, as well as a good reputation for reliability. There are also plenty around, so it should be easy to find one within budget.
Answered by David Ross

Is a Kia Cee'd automatic reliable?

"I am considering buying a 2014 Kia Cee'd automatic. Is it reliable or is there any other car that would be suitable? I do around 5,000 miles per year and need a seat that helps my dodgy back."
We've had a few minor issues reported with that generation of Kia Cee'd but generally it's a very reliable car: The gearbox is pretty robust and should be more dependable than the automatic transmission you'd get in a Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf of the same age. As an alternative, we'd recommend looking at the Honda Civic.
Answered by Andrew Brady

My car failed its MoT on DRLs only - is this right?

"My Kia Cee'd 2015 failed its MoT on its daytime running lights only. After reading some responses and checking online it does say my car should be exempt from a DRL failure due to its age. But it also says that there was changes made around July 2019 on the DVSA website. So I'm wondering, is it still the case that my car cannot fail on this issue and I should take the matter further?"
DRLs (daytime running lamps) should only be MoT inspected on cars first used on or after 1 March 2018. If your car has failed its MoT on the faulty DRLs then I would suggest appealing the result with the garage and/or the DVSA.
Answered by Dan Powell

Can you recommend a car for a growing family in London?

"We're trying to decide on potential used cars, budget is up to £7000 (cash), for 2 adults and, at present one infant (may well be 2 within 12 months!) plus a cocker spaniel. We live in fairly central London, too. I guess petrol is the right fuel, manual transmission preferable. Space for dog and baby/infant stuff is obviously important. We don't do many long (i.e. 100-mile) journeys but once lockdown ends there may be occasional holidays across the UK. We've wondered about Skoda Fabia, Seat Leon, Ford B-Max, Fiesta, Focus. Any comments are helpful! Thanks."
You're right to be considering a petrol car for your requirements. I think you'd soon outgrow a small hatchback like a Skoda Fabia or Ford Fiesta. We'd recommend a Skoda Octavia – you'll get a 2013-2020 model in budget. It's a really practical car that offers great value for money, and there's an estate version too if you need even more space. Take a look at a Honda Civic or Kia Cee'd, too.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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