Thursday, 4 February 2016

COLUMN – February 2016

Here is my column from the February edition of The Local Herald and The Clitheroe Local. This month features two Kia's that, on first glance, look rather similar. However there are some big differences between them. The first is a 1.0-litre turbocharged pro_cee'd GT Line, which has a sporty look and an all-new engine to balance performance and economy. Then at the opposite end of the scale we have the pro_cee'd GT. This is the full-blown, 201PS 1.6-litre turbo. And I rather liked them both. As always visit the Reviews page for more.

After what felt like an incredibly short Christmas break, I got straight back into the reviews. The first two, featured here, were a brace of Kia’s. To the untrained eye they look rather similar, and that’s understandable given that they are both pro_cee’d models. They are vastly different in reality however, and so I needed to drive them both to see which is best.

The first to arrive was the GT Line. This is a newly-introduced model and I opted for a newly-introduced engine to go with it; the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. On paper this looks very good, offering 118PS and 171Nm of torque. It has a 6-speed gearbox to make the most out of that power, hitting 0-62mph in 10.7 seconds and reaching a top speed of 118mph. Importantly this does not feel like a 1.0-litre engine, and I would have to say that despite not offering the performance of a Ford EcoBoost engine, it was certainly good enough to be considered an alternative.

The GT Line gets a sporting look thanks to a full bodykit, two-tone 17-inch wheels, twin-exhaust set up at the rear and a subtle spoiler. The ‘ice-cube’ LED Daytime running lights create a bold stance at the front. On the inside there are some sports seats with contract stitching and cross-stitch pattern. There is plenty of gloss black trim and a dark headlining, to give a sporty feel to the cabin.

The GT Line is fully loaded, including reversing camera, keyless entry and go, satellite navigation, cruise control with speed limiter, dual-zone climate control and DAB digital radio. Yours for £19,720 it’s good value, good fun, and a good buy.

There is just one thing that might stop you buying one. The pro_cee’d GT. This is the car that inspired the GT Line in its original, full-fat form. And upon collecting my GT Line, Kia were kind enough to drop one off to replace it.

In terms of looks, it’s very similar. The wheels on the GT are much nicer, and you will notice the red strip on the front bumper, especially if your car is finished in Yellow Flame as mine was. Inside you get proper Recaro seats, which are delightfully snug and nice to look at. There’s a new, flat-bottomed steering wheel featuring the GT logo, and you’ll notice a big ‘GT’ button on it. That changes the dials to show a torque and turbo meter, along with a large digital speedo. It also switches on a sound symposer to boost the engine noise in the cabin.

Under the bonnet is a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine dishing out 201PS and 265Nm of torque. It has sportier ratios on its 6-speed gearbox and will go from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, and on to a top speed of 143mph. There are faster hatchbacks out there, and the pro_cee’d GT won’t keep up with the likes of a Fiesta ST or Peugeot 208GTi in a straight line, but it has plenty of space and a large boot, because the pro_cee’d is simply a bigger car.

The GT is quiet, comfortable, and very generously equipped. It has all the toys the GT Line has, but with a few extras, such as a heated steering wheel and heated seats. On a motorway there is a noticeable lack of noise, and the smaller hatchbacks don’t have that. There’s. It costs £23,105 plus another £510 for metallic paint, putting it above a top-spec Fiesta ST. Yes, the ST is quicker, and more fun. But the Kia feels more refined, and (almost) more grown up.

Dan

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