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Kia Pro_cee’d 4

Nip and tuck, plus fresh diesel, aim to make newcomer a contender

The Pro_cee’d was a revelation when it was unveiled in 2008. Here was a Kia that appealed to the head and the heart. But while the firm revised the five-door Cee’d at the start of 2010, it has waited until now to put the sporty three-door under the knife.

The tweaks are designed to bring the model in line with the rest of the Kia range, and most take place up front, where the car now adopts the grille seen on the Sportage compact SUV.

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Also new are the headlamps, which feature black lens surrounds, while the indicator repeaters move from the front wings to the door mirrors for a cleaner, more upmarket feel. 

Yet while the Mégane looks as though it was designed from the outset as a coupé, the Pro_cee’d can’t escape its sensible family hatchback origins. It’s simply not as exciting to look at. 

This is also the case inside, as the layout doesn’t have the visual appeal of the Renault’s. 

The dashboard is more upright, although silver trim helps to liven up the experience. Plus, existing owners will notice the new integrated colour sat-nav screen in the centre of the dash. This also relays images from the reversing camera that’s included as standard in flagship 4 trim. 

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In addition, the long kit list comprises dual-zone climate control, but this system isn’t perfect. If you adjust each zone independently, there’s no way of taking over control of both settings at the

same time again without turning the ignition key, which can prove really irritating on long journeys.

The new three-spoke multifunction steering wheel feels good, and the rest of the controls are sensibly laid out. 

Yet while the simple instruments are easy to read, the rev counter looks small next to the much larger speedometer. 

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Overall fit and finish isn’t as solid as in the Renault, either; there are fewer soft-touch plastics and some cheap-feeling materials dotted about the interior. Plus, while the heated leather seats 

are comfortable, the driving position is much higher than in the Mégane, and it’s not as adjustable, either.

Access to the rear is much the same in both cars, although the Pro_cee’d is the better choice if you plan to carry adults in the back frequently, due to its taller roofline. Larger side windows also contribute to the feeling of space inside, and the boot offers a useful 340-litre capacity.

The biggest change to the Kia comes under the bonnet. While the outgoing flagship was powered by a 2.0-litre diesel, the new model uses a 1.6-litre CRDi engine that produces 126bhp and 255Nm of torque. This translates into lively performance, and the Pro_cee’d was faster at the track. 

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Mid-range pace is particularly impressive, and the car’s shorter overall gearing makes for better responses in higher ratios. But it’s not as refined as the smooth Renault, and the performance advantage doesn’t feel as big on the road as the figures would suggest. Keen drivers will also notice the inconsistent weighting of the major controls, with heavy steering and an overly light, slightly notchy gearshift. The latter feels completely disconnected from the action – although the engine’s impressive low-down punch thankfully means gearchanges can be kept to a minimum.

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Enthusiasts will also prefer the French car’s more polished chassis. Arrive at a corner too fast in the Kia, and the front wheels surrender their grip all too easily, washing wide of the intended line way before the lively Renault loses bite. The whole experience is more numb and less enagaging.

So the Pro_cee’d trails on kerb appeal and driving dynamics – but does it make up for this with strong green credentials? On paper, it stacks up pretty well, with an official CO2 output of 119g/km and combined fuel economy of 62.8mpg. In the real world, though, it struggled. Over the course of our test, it returned only 34.5mpg – a disappointing 9.4mpg behind its competitor.

According to our calculations, that means buyers who go for the Kia will pay £474 more in fuel bills over 12,000 miles, at £2,214.

Of course, the Renault has no answer to the Korean company’s brilliant seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, and the Pro_cee’d scores with its practical and generously equipped cabin, as well as its affordable pricing. 

So for buyers on a budget, the new-look model still holds plenty of appeal.

Details

Chart position: 2
WHY: Revised Pro_cee’d gets sharper looks, plus interior and engine tweaks, and still scores with Kia’s seven-year warranty.

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