The Kia XCeed prioritises low running costs and comfort over practicality and the driving experience. If you want a plug-in crossover that’s a better all-rounder, Kia’s own Niro PHEV is easier to recommend. The upcoming Renault Captur E-Tech may also be worth waiting for. However, if tiny fuel bills and a worthwhile electric range are all you need – with the peace of mind of a seven-year warranty – the XCeed PHEV is one for your shortlist.

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The Kia Ceed family is growing at a phenomenal rate, not just in terms of the sheer number of bodystyles you can buy, but also in the choice of powertrains.

Alongside the regular hatch, Sportswagon estate and sportier ProCeed estate is the XCeed SUV – a small crossover based on the hatchback – and this model is now available with plug-in hybrid power.

For private buyers, the elimination of the UK Government grant for PHEVs is a blow. However, company car buyers can enjoy a low Benefit-in-Kind tax rate of 10 per cent, while the potential for zero-emissions, electric-only running means the XCeed plug-in hybrid should be cheap to run.

It uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine in tandem with an 8.9KWh battery and electric motor. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox. Total system power stands at 139bhp and 265Nm of torque. However, those aren’t astronomical figures, especially when you factor in the XCeed’s weight; it’s 115kg heavier than an equivalent petrol model.

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As such, the car’s performance figures are a little underwhelming. Kia claims it’s capable of 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds, with a top speed of 99mph, and this feels every bit as slow as you’d imagine. A lack of vitality completely shrouds the XCeed plug-in; it’s sluggish when accelerating, making even the most basic overtaking manoeuvres seem like a challenge. At least its top speed shouldn’t be much of an issue on UK motorways. There is a Sport drive mode, but it does little to sharpen the car’s responses.

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There are also practicality penalties. The XCeed PHEV’s boot is 135 litres smaller than that of a regular petrol version; at 291 litres, it’s comparable with a B-segment supermini rather than a small C-segment SUV. There’s a slight impact on passenger space, too. The battery is located under the rear bench, which pushes the seats slightly up and forward, resulting in some lost kneeroom. This is a common trade-off with plug-in hybrid vehicles, but the XCeed’s packaging compromises are a little more evident than most these days.

However, put aside the immediate impressions the XCeed PHEV gives from behind the wheel, and the Kia gets the basics right. For starters, the drivetrain is seamless in operation and refined. Kia has been developing plug-in technology for some time now, and this 1.6-litre set-up
is a known quantity. The fuel economy figures are even more impressive; Kia claims 201.8mpg for the 3-trimmed version of the car, in tandem with 32g/km of CO2 emissions, so it should be cost-effective to run. The PHEV is also capable of 36 miles of electric-only running on a full battery.

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There are some clever small details, too. You can stretch out the battery’s energy by  using functions such as the ‘Driver Only’ drive mode, which closes all the air vents except the ones around the driver’s seat to save power if you’re travelling alone. Also, as with other Kia plug-in hybrid and electric cars, you can programme charging for certain overnight hours, to take advantage of cheaper domestic electricity rates.

The XCeed’s cabin is also impressive, with a fit and finish that feels befitting of its range-topping price tag. Standard equipment on the 3 version includes automatic climate control, LED headlights, a rear-view camera and alloy wheels, while the central infotainment display is easy to use. It measures 10.3 inches, is swift in its operation and crisp to look at, and features all the smartphone connectivity features anyone could need.

Model: Kia XCeed PHEV
Price: £30,695
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl petrol, electric motor
Power/torque: 165bhp/265Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 10.6 seconds
Top speed: 99mph
Economy: 201.8mpg
CO2: 32g/km
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