Monday, 1 February 2016

REVIEW – Kia pro_cee'd GT

The last car I reviewed was a Kia pro_cee’d GT Line, and I rather liked it. There will be people who call for more power, and I should therefore draw your attention to this; the Kia pro_cee’d GT. This is the sportiest hatchback on offer from the South Korean marque, and has seen some changes for 2016. I arrived at the church on my wedding day in a red pro_cee’d GT back in August 2014, so I will always remember it well. I was therefore excited to see what difference the changes made.

Looks – 10/10

If you liked the styling of the GT Line, and I did, then you will love the GT. It’s the little touches that do it. The red stripe at the bottom of the front bumper is a subtle sporty note. Is completes what is a very aggressive front end, with the ‘ice cube’ LED daytime running lights, honeycomb grille and angular headlights. To the side there is a new 18-inch two-tone alloy wheel design, underneath which sit red brake callipers. To the rear there’s a subtle roof spoiler and an oval exhaust pipe sits either side of a diffuser in the bumper. Privacy glass and chrome side window surrounds are a nice touch, and I have to confess that I am quite a fan of the new Yellow Flame paint (£510). It’s quite a deep yellow, and looks superb. The pro_cee’d GT certainly turns heads.

On the inside the GT picks up where the GT Line left off. The first thing you notice is the presence of the body-hugging, sculpted Recaro seats. They’re half leather/alcantara, and feature the GT logo in the centre of the backrest. Once you’ve settled yourself in them you will notice the all-new steering wheel. This is the first time Kia have used a flat-bottomed type, and with the perforated grip and red stitching it certainly gives off a sporty impression. You will also spot the big ‘GT’ button on one side, which changes the dials to feature a torque meter, turbo boost gauge and a large digital speedometer. Which is as cool as it is unnecessary. The rest of the cabin looks well-built, with nice materials, and the dark roof lining completes the sporty theme. Put simply, this is a wonderful place to be.

Handling/Performance – 9/10

Powering the pro_cee’d GT is a 1.6-litre, turbocharged petrol engine. This sends 201PS and 265Nm of torque to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox, which makes it a little bit nippier than the GT Line’s 1.0-litre petrol. The 0-62mph dash is dealt with in a brisk 7.3 seconds and top speed is 143mph. I will be the first to admit that isn’t hot hatch territory. In fact, it’s almost a full second slower than our Fiesta ST Mountune. However, the pro_cee’d is a sizeable, roomy car, so it’s understandable that it will carry more weight. To drive though, the Kia is rather sprightly. The 6-speed box is a little short for my liking, although this does improve acceleration, and it certainly feels torquey; pulling from pretty much any speed in any gear. In ‘GT’ mode there is a symposer system to provide a louder soundtrack in the cabin, and I found this did encourage more use of the loud pedal.

Handling in the pro_cee’d is very good. The ride is firm but the car is not uncomfortable. In fact I found on a country road it felt planted and inspired confidence. The extra lateral support of the Recaro’s help when throwing the Kia round a couple of bends, and the steering is direct and nicely weighted. There’s no adjustable modes on the GT’s steering, but there doesn’t need to be; it’s just right. When you’re cruising on the motorway, I would definitely advise to stay out of GT mode, as you will soon notice the subtle drone of the symposer in the background; great when pretending to be Colin McRae on a country road, but not so good when trying to relax on the M6. I should also mention that the aforementioned Recaro’s have lumbar support by way of an electric inflatable back cushion, and on the motorway this is an absolute delight.

Economy – 8/10o

I don’t know whether is down to the lack of start/stop technology, or just down to engineering, but the 1.6 T-GDi engine isn’t the best on emissions. With CO2 of 170g/km, the car finds itself in VED banjjd H. That’s road tax of £205 a year, and £295 in the first year. I think that’s a bit steep for a 1.6-litre, but then it is a big car. To make you feel better the combined fuel consumption is a more positive 38.2mpg, although bear in mind that excessive use of GT mode and playing with the turbo boost gauge will do that figure no favour.

Practicality – 10/10

Now I will clarify something from the off here. The pro_cee’d GT is a 3-door model, and that can cause problems when it comes to clambering in and out of the back. I will say that there is a lot of room in the back once you get in there, but I take the point. But you see there is a 5-door Cee’d GT. It’s exactly the same, so in this instance I don’t see there being an issue with practicality. If you use the back seats more often, get the 5-door model. Simple. In terms of living with the car, Kia have now done the GT as a ‘one-trim’ model. And they’ve fully loaded it. Satellite navigation, reversing camera, keyless entry and go, dual zone climate control, DAB digital radio and cruise control with speed limiter all come as standard. And what’s particularly relevant now is the GT’s approach to staying toasty. You get heated seats and a heated steering wheel, which is the nicest of luxuries in the bleak British months.

Fun – 10/10

I chatted with several people about the pro_cee’d GT. A common theme emerged; it’s not as fast as the other hot hatches out there. There is no denying that, but people’s perception soon changed upon being in the Kia. It’s not very often you do a full-blown 0-62mph sprint. So the paper statistics don’t really mean a lot in the real world. But what the Kia does is bombard you with tech, and presents itself as a gadgety, sporty hatchback. You could quite easily pass this off as a sensible family car, and yet when you get on a good road it’s fast enough to be an absolute hoot. The styling is bold, and head-turning, and the ability to surprise people is something I like, having raved about Kia’s for some time now.

Concluding Remarks

So that’s my week with the pro_cee’d GT. I liked its yellowness, and the level of technology on offer is unparalleled in its price range. The 3-door pro_cee’d GT comes in at £23,105 on the road. That’s a little more than a Focus ST-1, which comes nowhere nearly as well equipped, albeit a bit quicker than the Kia. I think the pro_cee’d GT sits in a strange place in the market. It’s bigger and more expensive than the likes of the Clio, Fiesta, 208 and Corsa. Yet it has the same power as those cars. It offers the refinement of the bigger Astra, Focus, and Mégane, but without the extra performance. If you look for power and speed, you will probably overlook the Kia. But I would advise you to go and look at one, be it at your local dealer or on the Kia website. Then I would urge you to take one for a drive, because you may just find yourself like I did; with a big smile on my face.

Total Score – 47/50

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