Kia’s getting warmer

Kia Pro_cee'd GT
Kia Pro_cee'd GT

Whether you see it as a smart coupe or a sleekly-styled three-door hatch, Kia’s second generation pro_cee’d offers a sensible spin on sporty motoring that offers extra bite in GT form.

It’s also well built, aggressively priced and comes with a bullet-proof warranty deal. Still sensible then, but with a little sexiness thrown in.

Buyers of humbler pro_cee’d models always knew that there was the kernel of a really good car in there. The steering’s fairly meaty by modern standards, there’s a reassuring amount of front end grip, the ride/handling compromise is well judged and there’s a nice consistency of control weights. All the sorts of stuff that keen drivers look for in other words, but there just was never enough engine. That changes with the introduction of the pro_cee’d GT. Here customers get a 201bhp turbocharged four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol engine that also develops a hefty 265Nm of torque.

This results in acceleration to 62mph in 7.9 seconds which sounds a little pessimistic for such a punchy car. By contrast, a heavier MINI Cooper S with a mere 184bhp will get to 62mph almost a second quicker, although this may well be down to an issue of gearing. The GT’s not heavy, weighing in at around 1280kg. Kia is quick to play down expectations, advising us that it’s a warm rather than a hot hatch and you can see where they’re coming from, with many of the top hot hatch players now boasting up to 300bhp.

The pro_cee’d is a handsome, wedge-shaped three-door hatch, designed by Europeans for Europeans. Built in Slovenia under the auspices of the Frankfurt-based Kia Motors Europe design team, it features a longer and lower profile than the five-door car, resulting in an edgy, coupe-like shape.

The Kia badge still has some work to do to reach the same volumes as Ford or Vauxhall and it would be a shame to see this car pass as a highly-regarded one-off, much as the Proton Satria GTI did in the Nineties. I hope this is the start of a series of more sporting Kias; cars that can lift the brand clear of its bargain basement beginnings. One thing’s for sure. It looks the part already.