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REVIEW – Kia Ceed GT 2021


Kia Ceed 1.6 T-GDi ISG GT 5dr DCT
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4.5

Summary

This new Kia Ceed GT still has the same 200PS it has always had. But it has matured in other ways. The styling is sleeker, in a more grown up way than the likes of the Hyundai i30 N. The interior tech has improved. Best of all is the7-speed DCT automatic gearbox. This car feels faster than its predecessors, and the handling is equally impressive. In short, this is as good a ‘warm hatch’ as you will see.


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Exterior Styling

The Kia Ceed GT is a sort of ‘warm’ hatch. It is relatively sprightly compared to other versions of the Ceed, but is not really in the same league as the likes of the Ford Focus ST or Hyundai i30N.

Visually, however, the Ceed GT is very impressive. In comparison to the rather bonkers-looking i30N, the Ceed GT is more subtle and mature, less about screaming “look at me” yet still easy on the eyes.

At the front you will notice a GT badge in the grille, sportier front bumper design and red detailing on the front skirt and grille. This, alongside the dark chrome and black trim, was a wonderful contrast to the Fusion White premium paint.

To the side you get multi-spoke 18-inch alloys with a two-tone silver and grey finish, gloss black mirrors and side skirt inserts and a dark chrome window surround. Privacy glass enhances that mature feel, whilst the red wheel centre cap and brake calipers bring subtle sportiness.

At the rear there is a sportier bumper design which includes a gloss black valance and large exhaust tip at either side. There is also a roof spoiler and shark-fin aerial to complete what is a well-rounded styling package.

There are enough subtle hints that this is the quicker Kia Ceed, whilst still being reserved enough to blend in so as to not entice unwanted attention wherever you go.

The choice to present a sleeker appearance is perhaps evidenced by the lack of bright colours. Previous iterations of this car were available in bold yellows and bright reds, whereas the current model is mostly greys, white and black. There is Blue Flame available, which is the same as the Sportage GT Line S we reviewed previously.

Interior Finish

On the inside, it’s very much the same story. Subtle sportiness without being over-the-top. And the result is a car that feels a bit more special than a ‘regular’ Ceed whilst still being a comfortable family car.

The main additions to the cabin over a standard Ceed are the half-leather sports seats with contrast red detailing and beefed-up bolsters. They are inviting, although not quite as much as the Recaros found in the previous iteration of the pro_cee’d GT.

You also get a dark headlining and a slightly-flat-bottomed steering wheel with perforated leather and contrast red stitching. There are gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel, since this is a 7-speed DCT automatic, and there are some sporty-ish read-outs on the instrument cluster multifunction display, such as turbo boost gauge.

The dials either side of this display are manual and, as on other Kia models, a fully-digital cluster would be preferred. This could have incorporated more GT-specific layouts and enhanced the driver experience.

What is an improvement over previous models, however, is the large 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia unit. This is a focal point in the centre of the dashboard and within easy reach of both the driver and front passenger for effortless operation.

There is also a sport button located next to the gear shifter, which acts as a one-touch button to alter the vehicle dynamics. Whilst there may not be the vast customisation of the drivetrain like there is in a Hyundai i30N, it is still convenient.

Overall the use of materials is good, with mostly softer-touch plastics and a nice variety of textures. There is some silver trim to offer contrast, but with the dark headlining, seats and plastics the cabin is a little on the dark side.

Engine/Performance

The headlines remain unchanged when it comes to the engine in the new Ceed GT. It is still a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol unit. And, like before, it offers up 201PS and 265Nm of torque. But then as the old saying goes; if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

This time around, the 1.6-litre engine is mated to a 7-speed DCT automatic gearbox. 0-62mph is dealt with in 7.1 seconds, and the top speed is 139mph. That may not be as fast as the likes of a Ford Focus ST or Seat Leon Cupra, but then this is no slouch either.

Plus, to some degree Kia’s hands are tied. As many of you know there is a close relationship with Hyundai. So why can’t the Ceed GT be a straight-up rival to the i30N?

Well rumour has it there was a sort of trade deal when it came to releasing two rather exciting sports cars. Kia got the Stinger, a rather lovely-looking sports car. And Hyundai got the i30N, a bonkers hot hatch. So it wouldn’t be fair for the Ceed GT to come too close to the i30N…

In terms of engine dynamics, the 1.6 T-GDi is pretty good. Aside from a generally uninteresting soundtrack, it picks up well from low revs, and is happy to be pushed hard to the red line.

And it’s only once you push it hard that you get the most out of it. And it’s here where the DCT gearbox really shines – with 7 ratios and fast changes it is able to keep you on the power band so that every last drop of performance is eked out of the engine.

Ride/Handling

When it comes to on-road behaviour, the Kia Ceed GT is a masterpiece. Because it is more of a ‘warm’ hatch, it is comfortable and forgiving. Potholes and other lumps in the road are absorbed excellently, which means that the Ceed won’t shatter your spine every time you go for a drive.

In fact, the supple ride coupled with the excellent DCT automatic gearbox makes the Ceed GT a very proficient motorway cruiser. And that’s a big advantage over cars like the Hyundai i30N which are still firm and jarring even in their softest setting.

But don’t think that means the Ceed GT turns into a wallowing disaster when you decide to treat your local B-road like a special stage of the WRC. Because somehow – and I don’t claim to know how Kia has done it – the Ceed GT handles like the best of hot hatches.

Cornering is pretty flat, and whilst the steering lacks feel it is sharp enough to respond quickly to inputs and keep up with a blistering pace on even the twistiest of roads. Brakes are strong, and having the DCT in manual mode and using the paddles allows you complete control without your hands leaving the wheel.

As mentioned earlier, you have to really push hard to get the most out of the Ceed GT. But it enjoys being pushed. And that means you feel like an absolute hero when you give it 100% down your favourite road. It doesn’t ever feel lazy – because you are giving it everything. And it left me grinning from ear to ear.

Economy

My past experience of this 1.6 T-GDi has not been great when it comes to economy. The old (and over-punctuated) pro_cee’d GT had a smaller engine than rivals but seemed to offer very similar economy levels. This was most likely down to it being bigger and heavier than the cars which had the same-sized engine; such as the Vauxhall Corsa VXR or Ford Fiesta ST.

And since this large, 5-door only hatchback stuck with the same 1.6 T-GDi engine, I am happy to admit that I had a similar fear heading in to this test. But somehow – and again I don’t claim to know how Kia has done it – but the Ceed GT is surprisingly efficient.

Between a combination of new EU6 compliant tech, and the efficient DCT gearbox, the Ceed GT returns a combined 41.5mpg on the WLTP cycle. And whilst this is still less than the smaller hot hatches such as the Ford Fiesta ST, it is good for a car that is this much fun to drive.

CO2 emissions are 153g/km on the combined WLTP cycle. That equates to a first year VED payment of £555 which is absorbed into the purchase price. Subsequent to this the rate is the standard £155. There is no VED surcharge either since the price is far below the £40,000 threshold.

Practicality

The Kia Ceed family is made up of the XCeed, Ceed, Ceed Sportswagon and ProCeed; all of which are 5-door models. That makes them much more suited to family life. It seems like the days of the traditional 3-door hot hatch are all but over. Nowadays even the smaller models like the Fiesta ST and Polo GTi becoming more commonly 5-door.

And when it comes to the Kia Ceed GT, this new model is far more spacious than previous iterations. There is ample rear legroom even with the chunky sports seats, and the 395-litre boot may not be the biggest in the segment, but it’s still plenty for even the most extravagant shopping haul.

If I were to have one tiny moan – the dark interior is not the most pleasant for rear passengers on longer drives; it can feel a little gloomy back there especially with only a rather large sports seat to look at ahead of you. But for kids who are probably more interested in their own tech – or fighting with each other – it’s unlikely to be an issue.

The balanced approach of the Kia Ceed GT means it can do everything, and do it well. Taking the kids to school, doing the shopping trip, or having a solo blast down some country lanes, it just feels at home.

It is efficient enough that it won’t cost you the earth to run. And, as with any Kia, the Ceed GT is backed by a 7-year, 100,000-mile warranty for extra peace of mind.

Equipment

There is rarely any complaints when it comes to the equipment levels of a Kia. Often with a more generous offering than rivals, and without complicated options lists or packs, it is easy to pick the right model that has all the equipment you could want.

I will, however, start with my small complaint about the Kia Ceed GT. There are just a couple of things missing which could have really improved this car. The first is a digital instrument cluster. This could have incorporated some GT-specific sports displays which could have furthered the immersion in the driving experience.

The second is some mood lighting, or perhaps a panoramic roof. Something to cheer up the rather dark cabin and perhaps make life more pleasant for rear seat passengers.

But other than that the Kia Ceed GT has just about everything you could possibly want. For comfort and convenience there is Keyless entry and go, auto lights, auto wipers, heated front seats, heated steering wheel and a reversing camera.

For safety there is lane keeping assist, lane following assist, driver attention warning, emergency stop signalling and hill-start assist.

My second complaint about the Ceed GT is that there is an optional £750 for the forward collision-avoidance system with pedestrian and cyclist detection. Without this, the Ceed is only awarded a 4-star Euro NCAP score, but scores the maximum 5 stars with this selected. In this day and age, and on a car at this price point, this should be standard.

On the infotainment front the 10.25-inch touchscreen system has satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity and a DAB radio.

Value For Money

The Kia Ceed hatchback starts from £19,705 on the road, for a 1.0 T-GDi ‘2’ model. The starting price for the Ceed GT is £27,965 ono the road.

The only increases to this base price are for paint options. The standard colour on the Ceed GT is Silver Frost. All other colours fall into the ‘premium’ category, and therefore cost an additional £580. So the price of this particular car, as tested, is £28,545.

Strangely the GT is not the most expensive Ceed hatchback available. There is the £29,025 1.5 T-GDi ‘GT Line S’ model. It may only have 158PS vs the GT’s 201PS, but it has the same 7-speed DCT gearbox. But the GT Line S makes up for the power shortfall with extra tech, from heated outer rear seats, to a digital instrument cluster, blind-spot monitoring system and 8-speaker premium JBL sound system.

It would have been good to be able to specify the GT with this extra equipment. In previous models there was a GT and a GT Tech variant, to give buyers that option.

But in any instance the Ceed GT is well-equipped enough to present itself as rather good value for money. It still finds itself in a strange market place, however. A Fiesta ST-3 is still cheaper, yet is faster and more fun to drive, albeit not as spacious and a little less-generously equipped.

Conversely a Focus ST starts at over £30,000. That is, if anything, a little more spacious than the Kia, and faster, but still less generously equipped.

So if you want a well-balanced car, the Kia Ceed GT is potentially a great choice. If performance is the most important factor then there are alternatives to consider.

Facts and Figures

Engine 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 201PS at 6,000rpm
Max torque 265Nm at 1,500 – 4,500rpm
Drivetrain 7-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive
0-62mph 7.1 seconds
Top speed 139mph
Fuel tank size 50 litres
Fuel consumption 41.5 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 153 g/km WLTP
Kerb weight 1,442kg
Towing capacity 1,410kg braked / 600kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 395 litres
NCAP rating 4 stars (5 stars with Advanced Driver Assistance Pack)
Base price £27,965
Price as tested £28,545
Company website www.kia.com/uk/new-cars/ceed/

2 thoughts on “REVIEW – Kia Ceed GT 2021

  • Friday 20 August 2021 at 21:52
    Permalink

    Hi Dan,
    thanks for another superb review.
    At the age of 71 and being a total petrol head for far too many yearsI bought the original Cee’d GT 201 BHP in Fusion White new in March 2016 and to date have found the car itself to have played a blinder!
    After 34700 miles Its NEVER let me down at all and still looks (imo) as fresh a design as it was in 2016.
    The car is still performing to its best.
    The equipment levels for the car at the time was superb, value for money I agree 100%
    Comfort was and still is brilliant, the heated recaro seats are just sublime.
    The 4 cube DRL lights are just awesome (something that sadly has disappeared on later models)

    Re your point on fuel economy for the latest GT, you mention the WLTP figure?
    Are you not able to give us the true figure obtained when you test drive the cars?
    My fuel is averaging 28 – 45 depending on where ie town / motorway, I am not complaining as prior to buying the car I had done my homework and expected the figures of 28-34 so overall I’m happy with this.
    After reading your comments re ‘missing equipment’ I would add a heated front windscreen, as far as I am aware Ford no longer have the monopoly on this option?

    Gripes?
    Well, after two years of ownership the Diamond Cut alloys started to blister from the centre of the wheels (all four), this was a known issue to KIA which was highlighted by GT owners on both the KIA Forums and other Social Media forums.
    I duly took the car to my local KIA dealership (I have full service history with them) who told me that because I had slight (I mean slight) scuffing on three Yes three of the wheels (the rear one in question to this day I cannot find any scuffing) however, they refused point blank to replace (other than one rear wheel.
    I pointed out that
    A) KIA acknowledged the fault existed.
    B) The blistering was coming from the centre of EACH wheel. All to no avail.
    This has left a sour taste in my mouth with KIA and their 7 year warranty.

    Could I be tempted by the new GT Ceed?
    Sour taste aside, Yes, I probably could BUT I would have the wheels refurbed to powder coat finish!!

    Love your articles Dan, keep ’em coming

    Paul

    Reply
    • Friday 20 August 2021 at 23:19
      Permalink

      Hi Paul

      Thanks for reaching out and for sharing your experience of the Cee’d GT. It’s always good to hear the experience of others, especially over the longer term. I get the cars for a week and that’s hard to judge the actual ownership on that basis.

      I completely take the point about heated windscreen, this is a valuable feature and you’re correct – Ford no longer have this monopoly.

      In terms of economy, I find that generally the WLTP figures are quite reliable. In my time with the Ceed it averaged around 41mpg which was a good mix of driving.

      Sorry to hear you’ve had issues with the wheels – it is unfortunate and one would hope a brand that markets the 7-year warranty as a USP would do more to try and prove that point.

      If you liked the model you have now, you’d certainly like the new one. It’s fantastic.

      Cheers
      Dan

      Reply

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