And that’s all good, because it means that the Ceed is among the best cars in its class to drive - thanks, I suspect, to a team that genuinely cares about it. The previous Ceed wasn’t bad – taller, overburdened by apostrophe, granted – but it always had independent rear suspension. Still does.
There’s now a faster steering rack, firmer front springs but softer rear springs, and softer anti-roll bars all around, to try to balance a tendency to plough onwards fairly early, feel more agile – more Ford Focusy, I suspect. It does too.
It rides comfortably, steers accurately and with a really decent, natural-feeling weight build-up. I think the Focus probably retires still being the best in the class to drive, and there’s something reassuring about the way a Volkswagen Golf goes down the road, too, but the Ceed is certainly in the mix, as one of the two or three nicest cars in the class to drive. Not as agile as a Focus, but with a pleasing blend of ride, handling and control-weight comfort.
The drive, as usual, is better with a lighter engine. The 1.6 diesel (114bhp or 135bhp) is much quieter than a prototype I drove a few months ago, but the petrols are better. There’s a good 138bhp 1.4 turbo petrol, a 99bhp naturally aspirated 1.4 and a three-cylinder 1.0 turbo petrol with 118bhp.
It’s mated to a slick, six-speed manual that thrums along nicely, feeling a bit long-geared as it does, maybe – although that’s not unusual for a three-pot. Probably why it can return 50mpg on the new WLTP drive cycle, although 35-40mpg is more likely from my limited drive.
Inside, the new Ceed is rather less remarkable than its driving experience. A centre touchscreen works pretty well, and ergonomically it’s sound, while there’s good head and leg room all round – an adult can sit comfortably behind a tall adult. But there’s little flair in the execution, and where there are metallised-plastic highlights, on the steering wheel and auto gearlever gate (a seven-speed dual-clutcher I’ve tried on the 1.4 T: agreeably smooth), they’re big enough to both reflect the sun and remind you that they’re not actually metal at all.
A digital set of dials is coming next year, as is a mild-hybrid system, and a few new bodystyles, starting, but not ending, with a conventional estate.