WITH the XCeed accounting for eight per cent of Kia’s total UK sales last year, it could be said to be exceeding expectations.

With more than120,000 units sold across Europe, it was already a popular mid-sized SUV – but an extra ingredient has arrived in the form of a plug-in hybrid option.

The XCeed PHEV continues to use a 1.6-litre petrol engine, but the conventional unit is now supported by an 8.9kWh lithium-ion battery mated to a 44.5kW electric motor.

That makes for a total power output of 139bhp, with 265Nm of torque.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Kia Xceed PHEV

However, with the plug-in system adding 115kg in weight, it still doesn’t feel particularly quick - taking 10.6 seconds to get to 60mph from a standing start.

However, greater satisfaction is provided by the mpg figures, especially if you regularly take advantage of the car’s all-electric driving range, which I found to be in the region of 30 miles from one full charge, against an official WLTP combined figure of 36.6 miles.

There are three driving modes - Sport, Normal and eco. As most people who opt for the PHEV version will have economical driving in mind, Sport mode probably won’t come into play too often, although it does add some extra fizz to the performance if needed.

That said, the petrol engine sounds rather coarse when worked hard, so better to adopt a more relaxed driving style and let the hybrid powertrain calmly do its thing.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Kia XCeed PHEV sparkling in the sunlight

The six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox works well in most circumstances, but the shifts could be faster.

Refinement levels are high, with comfortable supportive seats and a cabin well insulated from noise. A 400-mile round journey on the motorway was pleasant and relaxing, thanks to features such as adaptive cruise control.

The handling is decent, with weighty steering adding a sense of ‘feel’ for the driver. Body roll in corners is also well-contained, with the vehicle feeling well planted and relatively nimble, despite that extra weight.

If you settle down at a relaxed pace to achieve greater efficiency, the XCeed’s chassis also makes more sense. The Xceed’s greater emphasis on comfort is highlighted by softer spring rates.

Kia is keen to point out that the Slovakia-built vehicle was created exclusively for Europe, and has undergone extensive testing on European roads, including the UK.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Kia Xceed PHEV

There’s plenty of standard kit to enjoy and the cabin feels well put-together, with the plastic trim feeling solid and the buttons laid out sensibly.

There’s a sculptured centre console orientated towards the driver, while the horizontal dashboard layout has a tidy and slimline appearance.

There’s also a very decent infotainment system that offers smartphone mirroring as standard. The revised set-up that now features more connected services.

Headroom and legroom are excellent up front, with plenty of adjustment too, but things are a little more cramped in the back.

It’s a good looking vehicle, with confident lines and some rugged trim, such as chunky black bumper protectors

In terms of recent changes to its appearance, there are new LED headlamps, a revised grille and front bumper, with an innovative air intake design.

At the rear, there are some fresh LED taillights, a new diffuser with a gloss black skid plate and a discreet ‘exhaust-look’ design.

The 16-inch alloy wheels look smart, as do the silver roof rails.

In conclusion, the XCeed PHEV is a good all-rounder that offers great economy, decent tech, comfort and practicality – but it won’t provide many driving thrills.

The mark-up in price for the PHEV is also worth noting as the version tested here costs a shade under £33,000 compared to, for example, the XCeed GT-Line petrol, which you can buy for £25,395.

Kia XCeed 1.6 GDi PHEV ‘3’ 

PRICE: £32,995 on the road
0-60 MPH: 10.6 seconds
TOP SPEED: 99mph
ENGINE: 1.6-litre petrol with hybrid system 
BATTERY: 8.9kWh Li-ion polymer battery 
ECONOMY: 201.7mpg combined and emissions of 32g/km