Kia Ceed Sportswagon Plug-in Hybrid in the test: In winter without electric range

First of all: We got the Kia Ceed Sportswagon again as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) because the drive in the Kia XCeed seemed interesting and station wagons on a compact basis are very popular cars in Germany not only for families.

Now the calendar for testing the Xceed indicated June. When the Ceed station wagon arrived it was January, and this year January was very wintry even here in the wine-growing region. This showed a serious disadvantage of the Kia-PHEV: The manufacturer does not provide that the car is purely electric in the winter months. Even at two-digit plus degrees, the combustion engine almost always starts. Therefore, as a short summary in advance: You can only drive this car purely electrically in the summer half of the year. As an introduction to electric driving, the Kia is not suitable for most customer ideas. I find it difficult at all to invent sensible areas of application for this car.

Kia offers an “EV Mode”, which is difficult to mislead because the combustion engine ALWAYS started in the test, despite a full battery. The problem is the temperature. Incidentally, it doesn’t help to turn off the heating, as Martin advised me. It is also interesting why the combustion engine has to run, because this car has an electrical heating element with 6 kW output on the cabin ventilation. That would be enough for interior heating.

Another curiosity: In EV mode the combustion engine starts, but you drive with the electric motor while the combustion engine runs against the resistance of the starter generator, which in turn feeds into the battery, even if it has just been charged. The Ceed can drive the wheels as a serial as well as a parallel hybrid. This works because Kia uses a separate starter generator connected by a belt. This means you are more flexible and can start and drive more comfortably, says Kia. The example of the Audi Q5e shows why this can be a good idea if you can’t manage, like Mercedes, to grind off the clutch and start the engine transparently for the customer.

The whole configuration is astonishing because the Koreans know exactly how to build an efficient electric drive. Nobody can do it better. My only sensible thesis on how this car came about is therefore: It is probably most efficient to start the combustion engine when the Kia starts it, preheat the catalytic converter, heat the transmission, warm the cabin. I mean: a combustion engine like this has an average heating efficiency of around 80 percent! I’m just afraid that in the search for maximum efficiency, Kia has forgotten that pure electric driving is a value in itself that must therefore also be available in the winter months, even if it is less efficient. It could happen that metropolitan areas prescribe all-electric driving when the air values ​​are bad, and when is the air at its worst? In the winter.

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Representing many practical features is the sun visor with clip, mirror and lamp, whose toggle switch switches the visor off when it is folded up.
(Image: Clemens Gleich)

I hope that Kia will change the concept in the future, because many cornerstones sound the way you want them to be. For example, Kia knows that a wallbox is not worthwhile for small batteries. That’s why they include a Schuko charging brick that a) is efficient and b) charges with up to 12 A (i.e. 2.7 kW). 10 A is usual, because this is the intended continuous output for Schuko plug connections or sometimes only 8 A. Kia customers can switch down to 10 or 8 A on less stable electrical installations. The Ceed charges a maximum of 14 A single-phase (3.3 kW), e.g. at a wallbox or charging station. The difference to Schuko does not usually matter with the current battery.

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The only reason to buy is the company car tax relief. But for this reason I would take a very close look at the PHEV market as a tax policy artefact to see if something else would fit better. Because it pains me a little to say that, but this Ceed is simply not a good car with this drive. It attracts with a completely sufficient 104 kW (141 PS). But in practice I can’t think of any other word than “excruciating” for what the drive feels like.

The much weaker VW Golf 1.0 eTSI drives ten times as lively and consumes a lot less. Even in warmer weather around 10 ° C, the Ceed consumed 6.5 l / 100 km with about half the motorway share with 130 km / h Vmax – not a famous value for a compact station wagon. In winter weather with a wet road and temperatures of -1 ° to -4 ° C, this value rose to 7.3 liters. In comparison: This is how much the SUV-built Volvo XC40 consumed in comparable weather.

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