Kia Pro_Cee’d 2.0 CRDi Sport

Can sharp-looking hatch overcome its established rival?

When the Pro_cee’d you see in these pictures arrived on the Auto Express long-term fleet in April, several members of staff had their doubts. Could Kia really produce a hot hatch?

Approach the Korean model expecting to drive a VW Golf GTI rival, and you will be disappointed: This is no fully-fledged performance machine. Instead, it’s a stylish three-door that’s aimed at drivers who want value, good looks and a bit of spice to their hatchback’s performance.

There’s no doubt the Kia stands out from the crowd. Lined up next to the Toyota, it would take a true brand snob to opt for the Japanese model in a fashion face-off. Go for the white paint of our test car, and the Pro_cee’d could be mistaken for an Audi; that’s no surprise when you learn that the firm’s chief designer was behind the original TT. However, it’s a shame he didn’t have more of an input with the cabin. While the exterior hides its Korean roots well, the upright centre console and low-rent dials are lifted straight from the five-door Cee’d.

Indeed, it’s in the details where the Pro_cee’d begins to lose some of its shine. The steering wheel is covered with cheap-feeling leather, while the plastic used on the gearstick is equally poor. As your two main points of contact, this is more significant than it sounds.

Practicality also falls short, but that’s mainly because of the Kia’s style-focused three-door shape. At least the rear seat folding mechanism is clever, and there’s no shortage of cubby space up front.

Having covered more than 6,000 miles in our hands, the Kia’s engine is even punchier now than when we first took delivery. Our timing equipment measured the 0-60mph sprint in 9.7 seconds – almost identical to  the Toyota. However, achieving this figure takes a brutal approach with the clutch, and there’s no shortage of thick black diesel smoke produced from the exhaust under full throttle.

Separating our two contenders for handling is difficult. The Pro_cee’d doesn’t seem to have had the dynamic makeover that its looks would suggest. Tackle a twisty road, and the Kia is safe and predictable, but it doesn’t really put a smile on your face.

For everyday commuting, the Kia is a fine cruiser. The motorway ride matches the Toyota’s, while town centre potholes and speed bumps are absorbed with ease.

Priced at £15,770, the 138bhp diesel Pro_cee’d is the range-topping model, and the equipment list puts the Auris TR to shame. What’s more, you can get the same looks with a 1.4-litre petrol engine for only £11,995; the cheapest Auris TR is £13,195.

There’s nothing special about the way the Pro_cee’d drives, but its sharp looks and value for money could be a winning formula.

Details

Price: £15,770Model tested: Kia Pro_Cee’d 2.0 CRDi SportChart position: 1WHY: We want to see if the warm Pro_cee’d is ready to teach the Toyota a thing or two.

Economy

The Kia will save you only £25 over the Toyota in showrooms, which will comes as a surprise to anyone who sees the firm as a budget brand. When it comes to running costs, the Pro_cee’d is more expensive than the Auris. An average economy figure of 44.5mpg is impressive, given that this includes six months on our long-term fleet, yet in this test the Toyota proved more frugal. Kia drivers are the winners when it comes to servicing. Not only are the check-ups cheaper, but they are required every 12,500 miles – the Auris needs attention every 10,000. You shouldn’t struggle to find a dealer, either, as Kia has 140 outlets, which is only 44 fewer than Toyota.

Environment

Emitting more CO2 than the Toyota has lost the Kia points. The Pro_cee’d’s time with us has mainly involved urban driving, which has returned 44.5mpg – that figure will improve when cruising.

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