WHEN Kia launched the Ceed in 2006 it would have been targeting the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

Currently comfortably outselling both, the Korean hatchback now finds the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf as its biggest rivals in the race for best-seller status.

New for 2022, the latest Ceed now looks better value than ever in the “3” trim — the range’s entry-level — driven here.

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Grey paint was a low-point of a specification which included 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, cruise control and a raft of safety tech including lane departure assistance and automated emergency braking.

Key to the upgrades for 2022 is the 10.25-inch touchscreen of the latest Kia Connect infotainment system.

Sharp graphics, intuitive functionality and internet-connected services make it one of the sector’s best systems.

Tested here with Kia’s 160PS 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, with a six-speed manual gearbox, the Ceed came in at £24,155.

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It claims 8.4-second acceleration to 62mph and a 130mph top speed alongside 49.6mpg fuel economy and 129g/km CO2 emissions.

While never feeling wholly keen to deploy its pretty impressive power output, the drivetrain seemed capable of meeting its fuel economy claims and the Ceed’s handling impressed.

Kias are no longer hampered by their vague steering of old and the Ceed feels agile and of-a-piece when asked to pick up the pace.

In a sector where we have grown so used to lofty SUVs this might not come as a surprise.

More important is that the new Ceed reminds us that C-segment hatchbacks still deliver space enough for most families and incorporate the latest technology into what was once the UK’s go-to segment.

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