The new Kia XCeed PHEV on test for Changing Lanes
The new Kia XCeed PHEV on test for Changing Lanes

Caroline drives the 2020 Kia XCeed.

Earlier in the year we tested the Kia XCeed diesel; now it’s the turn of the hybrid.

The Kia XCeed plug-in hybrid (PHEV) comes to market with fashionable crossover style and an equally on trend hybrid powertrain. It’s a stylish piece of design for the compact segment but how successful is the hybrid powertrain?

Kia has astounded us over the last few years with a range of exciting and innovative models that puts them ahead of some even more established brands.

The Korean brand has not only stepped up quality and design but has also been an enthusiastic adopter of electrification into their range. The brand already sells two popular electric vehicles in Ireland, the Kia e-Niro and the Kia e-Soul, Irish Car of the Year 2020.

Fashionable crossover style for the new XCeed
Fashionable crossover style for the new XCeed

What’s so special about the Kia XCeed Plug-In Hybrid?

Hybrid is also a key feature of the range, debuting here in the Niro range back in 2016 and now extending to the XCeed range and next Kia Sorento.

The brand has had great success in Ireland with its SUVs like the Sportage and moved into the crossover market with the Stonic and now the XCeed. A derivative of the Ceed is a good place to start for the XCeed and it inherits the same underpinnings and interior with some modifications. The XCeed in my opinion is the most desirable of the range with its crossover-style makeover.

The XCeed PHEV has a new closed ‘tiger-nose’ grille to aid aerodynamic efficiency and the charging port is integrated into the left front wing. In Ireland it retails from €28,350 including grants and VRT relief. It is available in just one high specification. Standard equipment includes 18” alloy wheels, dual zone automatic air con, 8” touchscreen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, rear privacy glass, rain sensing wipers, lane keep assist and forward collision avoidance.

Inside the 2020 Kia XCeed PHEV
Inside the 2020 Kia XCeed PHEV

Inside the Kia XCeed PHEV

Inside, the XCeed PHEV is comfortable with a well-laid out cabin and good finish. There are some new features for the plug-in hybrid including a charging indicator on top of the dashboard to signal visually to the driver the state of the battery (charging or fully charged).The instrument cluster also displays remaining charge levels, anticipated electric-only range and the flow of energy between the battery pack, engine and electric motor. The ‘Driver Only’ heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system is a handy feature to reduce the draw on battery energy from the ventilation system.

There is good space inside the vehicle for a compact with decent legroom in the rear. The Ceed model line-up was engineered from the start to accommodate new hybrid powertrains so the battery pack doesn’t interfere with passenger space. The 8.9 kWh battery pack is located alongside the 37-litre fuel tank beneath the rear bench. However the boot is on the shallow side with luggage capacity in the hybrid down to 291 litres, less than the pure combustion engine versions.

How does the hybrid work?

The 2020 Kia XCeed plug-in hybrid is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor and 8.9 kWh battery pack to produce 141 hp and 265 Nm of torque. There is a pure electric range quoted up to 54 km by the brand, though in real world driving this will be a little less. But it does allow buyers to experiment with driving an electric vehicle and means that short commutes or errands can be run on battery power alone, with little dip into that petrol tank. It can take less than 3 hours to charge the battery to full capacity.

Luggage capacity in the new XCeed hybrid
Luggage capacity in the new XCeed hybrid

Kia says that the XCeed Plug-in Hybrid has been engineered exclusively for European roads, with European buyers in mind. The ride and handling characteristics have been tuned for dynamism and driver engagement, with some special tweaks to suspension and steering over the diesel and petrol XCeed range.

The powertrain is paired with a six-speed double-clutch transmission, while regenerative braking technology also comes as standard to recuperate energy typically lost during coasting or braking.

Driving the 2020 Kia XCeed PHEV

On the road the Kia XCeed PHEV impressed for its smooth, refined drive. Handling is quite neutral so the car behaves predictably on the road but there isn’t much dynamic spirit to it. There are two modes to switch between – Sport and Eco – and both are worth acquainting yourself with.

In Eco mode there is a bias towards efficiency with a duller throttle feel ensuring you optimise your fuel economy. To that end we averaged between 5.0 and 5.5 litres per 100 kms across mixed roads – urban, rural and motorway. That is an impressive return and motor tax is just €170 per year, accounting for the reduced CO2 emissions from the hybrid powertrain.

When you need more throttle response and quick acceleration, for example when overtaking or joining the motorway, the Sport mode is a must.

Kia has invested to bring plug-in hybrid technology to the compact class, and the brand is offering buyers in Ireland an attractive package of price, equipment and fuel sipping hybrid technology in the compact class.

The XCeed occupies a sweet spot of the market right now with styling that is right on point for current trends for crossovers. Adding hybrid to that creates a very appealing prospect. While the hybrid carries a small premium over the entry level petrol XCeed, in return I think buyers will be impressed with the fuel economy and refinement of the vehicle.

The Kia XCeed PHEV offers buyers a fuel sipping hybrid crossover
The Kia XCeed PHEV offers buyers a fuel sipping hybrid crossover

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia XCeed plug-in hybrid
Engine: 1.6 litre petrol electric hybrid
141 hp
Torque: 265 Nm
7.8 seconds
Top speed: 225 km/h
Fuel economy: 4.2 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 109 g/km
Motor Tax:  €170 per year