Two hatchbacks looking for segment dominance

Ahead of its world debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, the third-generation Kia Ceed is already generating plenty of attention. The new model arrives with a fresh design born from Kia’s latest style language. It adopts plenty of the automaker’s distinctive features, most notably the “Tigernose” front grille that’s flanked by a pair of more aggressive swept-back headlamps. The new Ceed also has a sportier profile, emphasized in part by a more sculpted hood, aggressive body lines, and a more pronounced rear section than the model it’s succeeding. The Ceed’s new presentation sets it up nicely as a viable competitor to the Volkswagen Golf. The question then has to be asked: which looks better, the Kia Ceed or the Volkswagen Golf?

Front

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The contrast in the designs of the Kia Ceed and Volkswagen Golf are prominently shown in the front section of both cars

The contrast in the designs of the Kia Ceed and Volkswagen Golf are prominently shown in the front section of both cars. Whereas the Ceed sports a more aggressive appearance of Kia’s push to become a bigger player in the segment, the Golf has a more relaxed European look to it. Both treatments work well for the two hatchbacks. The influence of the Stinger GT is clear on the Ceed. Beyond the grille, headlights, and the sculpted hood, the Ceed’s front section also has wide trapezoidal intakes that you’re more likely to see in a sports car. The presence of a front splitter also adds to the hatch’s sporty stance.

The Golf, on the other hand, has a smoother and cleaner look. It doesn’t have as prominent a front grille as the Ceed, and that helps take attention away from that specific section of the car. That’s a good thing because you get to appreciate the overall look of the Golf. The hatchback’s own headlamps seem bigger than the ones on the Ceed. The presence of that chrome strip on the grille also helps create the illusion that the Golf is wider than it is. Down below, the bumper, air dam, and intakes help give the sporty touch to the Golf’s looks. The corner intakes, in particular, are massive improvements from a design perspective compared to the previous Golf model.

There’s no right or wrong answer on which has the better-looking front section. Some will appreciate the fierceness of the Ceed while others will like the smoothness of the Golf. It’s all a matter of preference.

Side

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It’s safe to say that the Golf has a more traditional, boxy hatchback design compared to the sportier-looking Ceed

I think it’s safe to say that the Kia Ceed has a sportier side profile than the Volkswagen GT. It’s not by much, but when you combine all the little details, it adds up to a convincing win for the Korean hatchback. Let’s look at the front part of the side profile first. Notice how the Ceed’s front splitter extends past its nose? That’s a design trait you normally see in sports cars. Speaking of the nose, see how visible the Ceed’s nose is compared to the Golf? There’s a sharp point where you see it end before dropping at a sharp angle. Compare that to the Golf’s nose, which slides down without any breaks down to its own grille. Move back a little, and the body lines of both hatchbacks are impossible to miss. Kia was a bit more playful with its lines for the Ceed, extending it upward as it approaches the rear. To Volkswagen’s credit, its lines are aggressive in their own right. There’s a noticeable crease when shadows come into play.

Move your gaze upwards to the roof line, and that’s where the big difference between the two hatchbacks can be seen. It’s safe to say that the Golf has a more traditional, boxy hatchback design compared to the sportier-looking Ceed. The Kia’s roofline is more appealing than the Golf. It even has a shark fin and a more prominent roof spoiler. The Golf’s rear bumper extends a little further out, but overall, the hatchback suffers from being a little too ordinary in this section. Kia, however, swung for the fences, and while it didn’t necessarily smack one out of the park, it did hit the ball long enough to lap the bases.

Rear

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The Ceed’s roof spoiler slopes downward compared to the more upright spoiler on the Golf

Looking at the two hatchback’s rear section and comparing one from the other is difficult. Some of Kia’s aggressive styling do make their way to the back, but somehow, it’s not as consistent as the ones we saw in the front and side profiles. The Ceed’s roof spoiler slopes downward compared to the more upright spoiler on the Golf. The Volkswagen does have the advantage of having a bigger rear glass window. Part of that is Kia compromising the side of its window by placing the taillamps of the Ceed much higher from the ground compared to the Golf. It looks more muscular, but it comes at the expense of having more space for the rear glass window. The Golf also gets the nod for having more aggressive dual tailpipes compared to the Ceed.

References

Kia Ceed

2018 Kia Ceed Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Ceed.

Volkswagen Golf

2018 Volkswagen Golf High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf.

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