The Kia Ceed Sportswagon Plug-in Hybrid is a practical estate with a 35 mile electric range at a relatively affordable price.
Kia has given us the excellent all-electric e-Niro, but if you’re still not sure about going all-electric, there’s now the Kia Ceed Sportswagon Plug-in Hybrid, which offers 35 miles of electric range, along with a petrol engine as back up with a 400 mile+ range.
The Kia Ceed Sportswagon Plug-in Hybrid has a 4-cylinder, 1.6-litre Gasoline Direct injection (GDi) petrol engine with a 44.5kW electric motor powered by an 8.9kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, a six-speed double-clutch transmission (6DCT) and front-wheel drive.
A unique selling point of the Ceed is that it’s a practical estate with a large boot (437 litres of boot space with the seats up and 1,506 litres with them folded down), and there still isn’t that much choice in the estate car marketplace if you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid. However despite the boot being large, legroom for rear seat passengers isn’t that generous. But you do get a useful compartment under the boot floor for storing charging cables.
Interior quality seems to get better with each generation of Kia.
All car manufacturers have their ‘sweet spot’ in the market and the Ceed is very typical of Kia’s position – it’s absolutely fine to drive, but it certainly can’t be described as a driver’s car – which will be perfectly acceptable for many people.
The overall headline is that this is an efficient car, with a good electric range, and decent economy overall when using the car on electric and petrol.
When you start the car, the automatic hybrid setting for the powertrain typically results in the petrol engine being fired up; you have to actively press a button to select electric to override this. When in electric mode, responses to accelerator input are slow, which is very unlike pure EVs, which are very responsive. If you want to keep up with the progress of other traffic when in EV mode, you often find that you’ve pushed the accelerator too hard and that the petrol engine fires up.
There are two drive modes: Eco and Sport. Eco is very slow – especially when, for example, trying to overtake at motorway speeds – and Sport – using the petrol engine – can be revvy, so it really needs something like a ‘Normal’ or ‘Comfort’ mode between the two. There’s also no ability to select hold, save or charge for the battery – although choosing Sport mode does achieve this.
The six-speed double-clutch transmission (6DCT) offers a more direct driving experience than the electronic continuously variable transmissions (e-CVTs) that are typically found in hybrids, and you have the ability to change gear – using the gear selector rather than any steering wheel-mounted paddles. However, unusually, there’s no way of adjusting the level of brake regeneration.
The best driving experience is achieved by selecting Sport and by changing gears manually – but this means that you’re using the petrol engine rather than electric power.
The front-wheel drive chassis can sometimes struggle with grip, and it doesn’t offer any form of rewarding handling, and although the ride quality is generally acceptable, it’s not class-leading in terms of comfort. There’s also quite a lot of road noise on some motorway surfaces.
The interior is typical Kia, which is basically a good thing – the dashboard is sensible and all controls are clear, which also applies to the infomedia system, which has a large, wide central touchscreen, with useful shortcut buttons underneath, and separate heating and ventilation buttons. We particularly like the big green ‘EV’ light in the instrument display which tells you that you’re driving on electric power – this is something that all plug-in hybrids need, but many don’t have. However the EV range isn’t displayed at all times in the main instrument display, you need to have the home screen on the central touchscreen displayed to see this.
You can switch off the lane departure warning system, but you need to do this every time you get in the car.
The official WLTP combined fuel economy for the Kia Ceed Sportswagon 1.6 GDi PHEV is 188.3 mpg, with CO2 emissions of 33 g/km and an electric driving range of 35.4 miles (City).
During our week with the Ceed, it displayed an electric range of 35 miles every single day after a full charge, and it averaged 64.7mpg after a week of mixed driving, including long motorway journeys – which is a good result. It also promised a 400 mile+ range on its petrol engine.
The Ceed takes 2 hours 15 minutes for a 0-100% AC home charge at 3.3kW.
The Kia Ceed Sportswagon 1.6 GDi PHEV ‘3’ 6-speed DCT costs £29,995. There’s only one trim level, ‘3’, as tested, and the PHEV is only available in the Sportswagon body style. The Ceed comes with a 7 Year / 100,000 mile warranty.
The Kia Ceed Sportswagon 1.6 GDi PHEV is efficient and practical, offering a 35 mile electric driving range and a large boot. It’s also relatively affordable. The dashboard is clear, and the driving experience will be perfectly fine for many drivers. However the normal responsive feel of an electric powertrain is missing; a Normal drive mode to sit between Eco and Sport is needed; and it would be better if the Ceed started off in pure EV mode as a default, because without this it runs on its petrol engine for too much of the time. So the Kia Ceed Sportswagon 1.6 GDi PHEV is a welcome addition to the range of plug-in hybrids on sale, and it’s awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10.
Our standard advice about buying a plug-in hybrid applies: plug-in hybrids are designed to be driven primarily on electric power, with occasional longer journeys. Doing this can result in fuel economy of over 100mpg. However if you instead use a PHEV for long journeys and rarely charge it, you’re likely to be disappointed with the fuel economy.
We would recommend the excellent all-electric Kia e-Niro, which can deliver a 300-mile driving range along with instant responses from the powertrain, zero tailpipe emissions, and low running costs.