Kia Pro_cee'd GT review
The Kia Pro_cee'd GT gets a 201bhp 1.6-litre engine to rival the Hyundai Veloster Turbo
The Kia Pro_cee'd GT is the South Korean carmaker's first 'warm' hatch - a move that's set to help distinguish 'sporty' Kia from its 'luxury' stablemate Hyundai. First to arrive in the UK is the three-door Pro_cee'd GT, which will be followed by the five-door Cee'd GT early in 2014. As befits the pinnacle of the range the GT gets a range of cosmetic and mechanical upgrades and is also the first to use the brand's 201bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine. Designed, developed and built in Europe, the GT will be sold exclusively here too and is further proof of Kia's ambition to take on big-hitters like Ford and Volkswagen who have traditionally dominated this class. The GT's biggest problem, though, is set to be its price. When you can get a SEAT Leon SC 1.8 TFSI for the same price – if not a little less – then it has to be seriously good.
Our choice: Pro_cee'd GT 1.6-litre manual
One of the most important aspects for any three-door car is the way it looks. And the Pro_cee'd GT sets itself apart with a really striking exterior design. Details like the red pinstripe across the front splitter and honeycomb grille may have been pinched from more well-known rivals, but the design is cohesive and strikes a good balance between sportiness and style. The quad-LED lights either side of the front grille and dual exhausts at the rear look great and, inside, the grippy Recaro sports seats are superb. The driving position is excellent and, apart from a small C-pillar blind spot, visibility is good too. The interior is well made and fun details like the 'GT' colour TFT display between the dials help it feel special from behind the wheel. Equipment levels are good even on entry-level cars and goodies like leather trim, brushed alloy pedals and Bluetooth are all standard fit.
Fitting a twin-scroll turbo to the 1.6-litre GDi petrol engine has boosted the power output by almost half and it now produces 201bhp and 265Nm of torque. Those figures put it some way behind the new Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST but on a par with three-door rivals like the 1.8 TFSI SEAT Leon SC and Volkswagen Scirocco. It sprints from 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds and runs to a top speed of 143mph. On the road it feels quick, but without quite pinning you back in your seat like the best hot hatches around. The engine sounds louder than the standard car but the exhaust note is a little flat and characterless. The handling is good though as the Pro_cee'd GT gets stiffer springs and dampers, a thicker rear anti-roll bar and stickier tyres. It grips well through corners and body roll is well controlled but the brakes fade quickly and the weighty steering is a little inconsistent in feel around the straight ahead. It is not a match for the best hot hatches dynamically but the GT feels well suited to reasonably fast on-road driving rather than a track day special.
The Pro_cee'd GT comes with a seven-year manufacturer warranty as standard, giving you peace of mind for the first 100,000 miles of motoring as any major mechanical issues will be covered. Although it is a high performance model, which uses a number of bespoke new parts, the standard range has proved reliable with no major recalls reported. If you drive hard. the GT will use its brakes and tyres faster than lesser models in the range, but the interior build quality feels robust and like it will stand the test of time well. The Pro_cee'd is based on the Cee'd - which gets a full five-star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP and Kia as a brand finished seventh in our 2013 Driver Power satisfaction survey.
For a svelte three-door there is a surprising amount of space inside the Pro_cee'd GT. The rear bench is wide enough to seat three adults in comfort and a flat floor means there is a lot of legroom as well. The big glovebox and a variety of other cubbies mean storing loose items is simple and the boot will swallow an impressive 380 litres of luggage. If you need more room, the back seats are split 60:40 and, although the loading lip is higher than the five-door model, it is easy enough to lug heavy items on board. Access to the rear seats is reasonable and there is a button to slide the front seat forward to make it easy to climb inside. All-round visibility is quite good for a sporty model and the suspension is soft enough to make long journeys stress free. Unwanted boom from the exhaust is kept to a minimum when cruising the motorway.
Like any other Kia, the Pro_cee'd GT offers good value for money compared to its rivals. There are two trim levels to chose from: GT and GT Tech. The GT model starts at £19,995 and includes pretty much all the kit you could possibly need, while the Tech model adds luxury extras like xenon headlights, heated seats and a heated steering wheel, plus a seven-inch central touchscreen with sat-nav as standard. However, this pushes the price above the entry-level Ford Focus ST. Tuning the engine up this much has had a dramatic effect on fuel economy. The GT comes without start/stop or any other fuel saving equipment and means its claimed 38.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 171g/km are not that competitive. The fuel tank holds just 51 litres so expect to make regular fuel stops if you drive it hard. Less power should mean though that the Kia is cheaper to insure than more extreme hatches.