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In-depth reviews

Kia Ceed GT (2014-2018) review

Kia Cee'd GT is a five-door hot hatchback, but can it match more mainstream rivals?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Striking design
  • Build quality
  • Predictable handling
  • Artificial steering feel
  • Jittery low-speed ride
  • Dull engine note

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. While the likes of the Ford Focus ST and VW Golf GTI stand in its way of being a tru hot hatch winner, the Kia has affordability on its side.

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This means the Kia goes toe to toe with warm hatchbacks like the Renault Megane GT 220 and Peugeot 308 GT, aiming to blend performance, practicality, manageable running costs and comfort. 

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.

Engines, performance and drive

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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

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.

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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. 

Interior, design and technology

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.

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These clusters of four bright white LEDs mean you’ll definitely see the Kia coming, while the swept-back headlights and secondary grille give it an aggressive scowl.

The two-tone 18-inch alloys, tinted windows and chrome highlights around the window line make the car look sporty from the side, while at the back the GT gets two exhaust pipes, LED foglights that are spread to the outer edges of the bumper – giving the Cee’d a wider stance – plus a small rear screen with a large overhanging boot spoiler.

From the outside, the GT boasts some similar design features to the Volkswagen Golf GTI, which is no bad thing as the famous hot hatch combines classy looks with just the right level of sporty touches. 

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The Kia doesn’t imitate the upmarket Golf quite so well inside – in fact, it can’t quite match the Peugeot 308 for quality, either – but the design and layout are impressive. The clear seven-inch touchscreen, combined with solid switchgear, is more usable than the 308’s set-up. 

The rubberised dash is soft, but the plastics are less forgiving lower down. Still, there’s some nice chrome detailing around the dials and air vents to brighten up the black upholstery. The rear of the Cee’d is a little more sparse, but passengers still get Alcantara and leather with contrasting red stitching, plus electric windows.

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Standard kit is good on this top-spec GT Tech version, with sat-nav, Bluetooth, a reversing camera, parking sensors, a cooled glovebox, heated seats, climate control and special Recaro sports seats all included. However, the cheap-looking digital clock on the dashboard really lets the Cee’d down.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

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.

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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.  

Reliability and Safety

A major positive point with any Kia is the brand’s industry-leading seven-year warranty. The manufacturer was the seventh best in our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey, while its dealers were voted a respectable 10th in our rundown in the same year. To top it off, the standard Cee’d was voted the 38th best car to own in our 2015 poll, so the GT version should also prove dependable.

Even if there is a problem, the Kia’s class-leading seven-year/100,000-mile warranty means it should be easy to rectify, and with 170 dealers nationwide you shouldn’t have to travel far to get a problem fixed. 

The standard Cee’d was awarded a full five stars by Euro NCAP following its crash test, on account of its six airbags and raft of electronic driver aids, and we’d expect the high-performance GT version to be just as safe. However, the Kia does without autonomous braking aids.

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