Wednesday, 19 November 2014

REVIEW - Kia pro_cee'd GT Tech

Since starting this website, I’ve found myself driving a lot of new cars, and- as you can see from the reviews page- some rather tasty metal. But of all the cars I’ve tested there have been few that I’ve actually contemplated opening my own wallet for. The car you see here is one of those few. Although it may look a lot like the Kia pro_cee’d GT I tested last year, there’s a lot more to it than that. Because this is the GT Tech model. And it will always hold a dear place in my heart because it was the one I arrived to church in on my wedding day. So read on to see why I love it so much…

Looks – 10/10

Take a look at the current Kia model line up, and you’ll notice there has been a large effort put into making them stylish and attractive. It’s definitely worked for them. The pro_cee’d GT for me is the epitome of this style. Any hot hatchback has to look the part, and the Kia definitely does. From the quad daytime running lights and the bold, angular grille at the front, to the twin tailpipes, rear diffuser and rounded rear end, the Kia looks stunning. The two-tone alloy wheels are nice, and with privacy glass there’s a touch of quality to the appearance too. I especially like the chrome window surround trim.

Step inside the Kia and the quality continues. The black and red theme is particularly sporty, and there are a few “GT” logos to remind you what you’re in. I like the gloss black trim, and lashings of leather. The seats are proper “Recaro’s” which mean they’re nice to look at as well as comfortable to sit in, and the half leather/alcantara combination is one I like. The large touch screen sits nicely in the centre console, and the large aluminium pedals are a nice feature. Then you have the large digital dials, which can be changed to show a turbo boost gauge and torque meter.

Handling/Performance – 9/10

The engine is the same as the regular pro_cee’d GT; a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Power comes in at 200PS and 265Nm of torque. That’s enough to propel the Korean from 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds and on to a top speed 143mph. That means it sits in rather a strange position. You see the pro_cee’d is the same size as an Astra, the VXR variant of which would humiliate the Kia in a straight line. But then it has a 2.0-litre engine. As do the Focus ST and Golf GTi. The 1.6-litre hot hatches come in the form of the Fiesta ST, Clio Renaultsport 200, and 208 GTi… all of which are faster off the line than the Kia thanks to lower weight. But it’s not about the paper figures with a hot hatch; it must feel fast. And thanks to the 6-speed gearbox the Kia feels very nippy indeed.

The handling is good too. The steering is direct and weighty, throttle response is keen and the driving position was perfect for me. The 18-inch wheels are clad with 225/40 tyres, which are of sufficient width to offer decent grip. There’s very little body roll at all, with the pro_cee’d staying flat through the bends. That’s thanks to the perfect suspension set up. On long drives there’s no noticeable bounciness, yet on a good A-road it’s planted and reassuring. Another factor which goes a long way in terms of handling is the support offered by those body-hugging Recaro seats. They do a sterling job of holding you in place through the bends to stop you flopping from side to side like a blancmange.

Economy – 8/10

This is another area where the pro_cee’d GT Tech sits in a strange area. Naturally you would hope that it would perform better than the larger-engined rivals owing to its small and efficient 1.6-litre engine. But then you see it’s much heavier than the 1.6-litre-engined rivals and consequently can’t offer the same economy as them. So the Kia sort of middle-grounds it here as well. On a combined cycle fuel consumption is a respectable 38.2mpg but this will vary depending on your enthusiasm with the right pedal. CO2 emissions are a bit high at 171g/km, which is a shame considering the smaller engine size. Road tax band H means £205 and £280 in the first year, which is the same as the Focus ST to put that in perspective.

Practicality – 10/10

Despite it being a 3-door car, the Kia does very well indeed in terms of being a practical, usable car. Getting in and out of the back is easy even for adults, and once you’re in there’s plenty of room as well. The boot is plenty big enough for all your shopping, and this is an area you reap the benefits of the larger body size. And then we come to the ‘Tech’ part of the equation. This car literally oozes gadgetry from every area. There are auto-folding mirrors with puddle lights which activate as you walk towards the car. There’s a reversing camera, cruise control, Bluetooth, satellite navigation, adaptive lights and auto wipers. I even like the seatbelt holder which saves you from bending backwards over your own shoulder every time you wish to put it on.

Fun – 10/10

I already had an idea of what to expect from the pro_cee’d GT Tech. Having reviewed the GT last year I was looking for something that went ‘above and beyond’. Gladly the Tech didn’t disappoint and without doubt is one of my favourite cars at the moment. It literally ticks all the boxes; looks good, drives good, and has all the equipment to make driving fun. Although if you want the quickest way to a smile in the Kia, just hit the ‘GT’ button and watch the dials change to reveal the boost gauge and torque meter. Then try and maximise them both on the next stretch of A-road. Simple fun, I admit. But excellent fun too.

Concluding Remarks

So that’s my time with the GT Tech over, and it was a memorable one. Even forgetting the fact it got me to the church on the happiest day of my life, I was vastly impressed with it. There are very few cars which offer the level of standard trim you get with the GT Tech, and it has the power to back up the GT name. It may not be the fastest of the hot hatches, but it’s a lot of fun and will put a smile on your face. So what’s the price of happiness? Well in this case £22,700. And to me that represents value for money. Don’t forget your 7-year, 100,000-mile warranty as well. So to sum up the Kia pro_cee’d GT Tech? Potentially my next car… watch this space.

Total Score – 47/50

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