Kia Cee’d GT review
Kia Cee'd GT is a five-door hot hatchback, but can it match more mainstream rivals?
The Kia Cee'd GT is a five-door version of the Pro_cee'd GT, and the Korean manufacturer’s first attempt at cracking the hot hatch market. It faces some stiff competition with the likes of the Ford Focus ST and VW Golf GTI standing in its way, but the Kia has affordability on its side.
Powered by a 201bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, the GT is a little down on power, but makes up for it with distinctive styling (especially those ice-cube-style LED daytime running lights), fuel economy of 38.2mpg and polished handling thanks to stiffer suspension, sharper steering, bigger brakes and a bespoke gearbox.
Available in two trim levels – GT and GT Tech – it comes with plenty of kit as standard including Recaro seats, 18-inch wheels and a bodykit.
Our choice: Kia Cee'd GT
The Kia Cee'd is already and handsome car, thanks to the latest iteration of Kia’s ‘tiger nose’ grille. There are significant styling changes for the GT range though, including a brand-new, deeper front bumper with larger intakes to feed the turbocharged engine and distinctive cube-shaped LED running lights.
At the rear a subtle diffuser separates the twin exhausts, while 18-inch alloys and chunkier sills beef-up the side profile. Finishing off the exterior makeover are several new trim pieces, such as a chrome strip around the side windows, a number plate framed in gloss black and a Golf GTI-esque red pinstripe across the bottom of the front bumper.
The five-seat interior is finished in all black, but marked out by the heavily bolstered part-leather and part-Alcantara Recaro seats. Red stitching on the seats, steering wheel and gear lever give it a real quality feel, too, a recurring theme with modern Kias.
The standard Cee'd is a sure-footed, easy to drive hatchback and that handling poise has been transferred to the GT, albeit with more capability at high speeds.
The 1.6-litre T-GDi engine doesn’t sound particularly inspiring at any point, and lags behind its rivals in terms of outright power, but Kia has made sure you can easily deploy every one of its 201bhp. Maximum power doesn’t arrive until 6,000rpm, which gives you an incentive to let the engine rev, but with the maximum 265Nm of torque available from just 1,750rpm all the way to 4,500rpm, there’s rarely any need.
Turbo lag is well suppressed and it picks up smartly from a little past tickover making it feel fast in stop-start city traffic. On more open roads it’s a touch short on power, but Kia is happy to admit this is a warm, rather than a hot-hatch. The 0-62mph sprint takes 7.4 seconds (0.9 slower than the Golf GTI) and top speed is 143mph, but perhaps more telling is the 50mph to 75mph time of 7.5 seconds in fifth gear, which demonstrates its flexibility at motorway speeds.
The manual gearshift has a light, snappy action to it, while the steering is quicker than the standard car (and does without the adjustable weight Flex Steer function) it lacks any feedback or sense of connection to the front wheels.
Stiffer springs and dampers increase body control at speed but the low-speed ride suffers. Luckily though, up the pace and things start to smooth out again. Bigger brakes, a larger rear anti-roll bar and stickier Michelin Pilot Sport tyres all help to keep the car’s mass in tight check.
Kia is clearly confident about the longevity of its products, as they all come with an industry-leading seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty. It’s fully transferrable to the next owner if you choose to sell the car, too. Retail customers can buy Kia’s Care-3 and Care-3 Plus all-inclusive servicing packages too, which cost £399 and £749 respectively and cover you for a full three or five services respectively.
Each service is due every 12 months or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first. While the GT features unique engine and chassis upgrades, there have been no major reliability issues reported with the standard Cee'd it’s based on.
However, take advantage of the GT’s extra performance and thrash it around, and consumable components such as tyres and brake pads will need to be replaced much sooner than their average life-span. The standard Cee'd has also received a full five-start rating in its Euro NCAP crash test, while Kia as a whole came seventh overall in our 2014 Driver Power satisfaction survey.
While the Pro_cee'd GT has the edge in terms of styling, the five-door is a more practical choice. First things first, those rear doors not only make getting in and out of the back much easier, but once passengers are installed it makes the back of the car a brighter and less claustrophobic place to be. With its high shoulder line and small rear windows the Pro_cee'd can feel a bit gloomy in the back at times, although in both cars there’s enough room for three adults in the back.
The 380-litre boot is about average for the class (and identical in size to the Pro_cee'd GT), and can be expanded to 1,318-litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down (93-litres more than the Pro_cee'd).
The boot lip is slightly lower than the three door, too, making bigger objects easier to load. Up front there’s surprising amounts of room, with a big glovebox and all the usual cubbies, and while the quality of materials can’t match the more expensive VW Golf GTI it feels robust enough to stand up to the rigours of family life, if required.
Whether you got for the three-door or five-door Cee'd GT, the 1.6 T-GDi engine comes equipped with stop-start and returns 38.2mpg and 171g/km – someway behind the new 247bhp Focus ST (41.5mpg and 158g/km) and the VW Golf GTI (47.1mpg and 139g/km).
The fuel tank holds 53-litres, which equates to a theoretical range of 445-miles between fill ups but in reality you’re likely to achieve much less than that. Two trim levels are available – GT and GT Tech – but even the lower-spec model comes with half leather Recaro seats, air conditioning, 18-inch wheels and the full styling package as standard.
Also thrown in are parking sensors, cruise control, Bluetooth and six airbags. Pay £2,500 more and the GT Tech models come with a seven-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, a reversing camera, heated front seats and illuminated door handles. A key selling point for the GT is the purchase price, which starts from £20,495 - £6,485 less than the cheapest five-door Golf.