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Kia Pro_Cee?d GT Review: First Drive Photo:
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Tony O'Kane | Mar, 19 2014 | 46 Comments

2014 KIA PROCEED GT REVIEW

What’s Hot: Zippier than you’d think, superb handling, value for money.
What’s Not: Silly name, poor brake-pedal feel.
X-FACTOR: At last, a Kia that appeals to the heart, not just the hip pocket.

Vehicle Style: 3-door small warm hatch
Price: $29,990
Engine/trans:150kW/265Nm 4cyl petrol turbo | 6spd manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.4 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

Kia Australia has taken the best Cee'd variant its European counterparts can offer: the svelte three-door Pro_Cee’d GT, and let it loose in a showroom near you.

Cerato-sized, it first appeared early last year in Europe, and has been warmly received everywhere since.

But with the Cerato already established as Kia’s small car nameplate in Australia, the business case for the five-door Cee’ds was perhaps flimsy.

Not so the three-door. In fact, a sportier Kia hatch to sit alongside the neat Koup is just what the doctor ordered.

So, then, how is this new Kia Pro_Cee'd GT?

Very, very good as it turns out. Not only is there a distinctly European flavour to the GT, there's also a strong local influence that enhances the experience greatly.

 

THE INTERIOR

  • Pro_Cee'd GT: Power windows and mirrors, reverse parking camera and revers parking sensors, LED daytime running lamps, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, dual-zone clipmate control, Bluetooth telephony and audio integration, Recaro seats
  • Pro_Cee'd GT-Tech adds: keyless entry and ignition, HID headlamps, panoramic glass sunroof, privacy glass, luggage net and 12V outlet in cargo compartment

Like the exterior, the Pro_Cee'd GT’s interior is one of the sharpest and most appealing designs to come from Kia yet.

There's a driver-centric layout that puts all controls within easy reach, an appealing mixture of soft-touch, glossy and leather-wrapped surfaces and instruments that are large and easily-read.

The central instrument ‘pod’ is also reconfigurable.

By default it displays an analogue speedometer, but tap the ‘GT’ button on the steering wheel and the LCD display changes to show a digital speedo flanked by torque and turbo boost gauges. Very cool.

The Recaro seats are another fancy feature. They don’t hug as tightly as the Recaros in a Fiesta ST, but you don’t need a jockey’s physique to sit in them.

The back seats are just as impressive. It may only be a three-door, but the Pro_Cee'd GT has a massive amount of rear passenger space.

While the rear seat-squab is a bit flat, this 5’8” writer was able to sit comfortably, with legroom aplenty and headroom to spare.

Think you’re sacrificing practicality with this performance hatch? Nuh-uh.

With 380 litres of seats-up boot space the Pro_Cee'd GT is as roomy as most other small hatchbacks.

Interestingly, with the seats folded it even has 12 litres more cargo volume than the Cerato hatch (for a total of 1225 litres).

 

ON THE ROAD

  • Engine/transmission: 150kW/265Nm 4cyl petrol turbo | 6sp manual
  • MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension
  • Disc brakes: 320mm ventilated front, 262mm solid rear rotors
  • 0-100km/h: 7.7 seconds
  • Electric power steering
  • 18-inch alloys with 225/40R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres

Alright, so the Pro_Cee'd GT borrows its powertrain and driveline from the Kia Koup Turbo, and produces an identical 150kW and 265Nm.

But before you accuse Kia of doubling-up on sporty two-doors with identical performance, the Pro_Cee'd GT and Kia Koup Turbo are very different machines.

For starters, the Pro_Cee'd GT is only available as a manual.

Secondly, it sits atop a very different chassis that features a far more sophisticated multi-link independent suspension, rather than the Koup’s far simpler (and easier to mass-produce) torsion beam axle.

Thirdly, the Pro_Cee'd GT drives like a dream. The Koup Turbo is a cruiser with a bit of power. The Pro_Cee'd GT is a more sophisticated machine, with a greater focus on handling.

And a lot of that is down to Kia Australia’s efforts with local suspension and steering tuning.

While the running gear was untouched, Kia Australia’s chassis boffins - led by guru Graeme Gambold - tweaked the dampers, springs and swaybars.

Spring-rates and damper tunes are firmer than the European-spec suspension, and the sway-bars are fatter.

The electric power steering has also been re-calibrated to improve feel and feedback. It certainly feels more "natural" - ie. more like a conventional set-up - as Kia claims.

It’s initially light, but weights up as the front wheels load up in a corner. It’s one of Kia’s best electric power steering efforts yet, and far nicer than the Koup Turbo’s three-mode FlexSteer system.

On the tight, bumpy and generally challenging backroads of Tasmania, the Pro_Cee'd GT proved itself to be a surprisingly capable performance hatch.

Turn-in is sharp and cornering grip from the Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres is bountiful.

Comparing the Nexens fitted to the Koup Turbo against these Michelins, it’s like chalk and cheese - or more accurately, chalk and bubblegum.

There’s terrific resistance to understeer, and pressing harder reveals the Pro_Cee'd GT to have a rather well-balanced chassis for a FWD hatch.

It’s no Renault Megane RS, but it sure does a decent impression of the Frenchman.

And though the suspension is firmer than what the European market gets, compliance is ok. Big bumps are easily absorbed, and only the deepest of corrugations challenge the Pro_Cee'd GT’s composure.

And then there’s the torque. Out on the hilly roads surrounding Hobart, the 1.6’s turbo torque is greatly appreciated. There’s not too much turbo lag above 2500rpm either.

Yet while Kia isn’t pitching the Pro_Cee'd GT as a hot hatch (“warm hatch” is their preferred term), the company is certainly confident in the capabilities of its new sporty hatch.

So confident in fact, that they booked Tasmania’s Baskerville raceway for us. And for a warm hatch, this little GT is decidedly hotter than most.

The 7.7 second 0-100km/h time is quick but, yes, we know, there are quicker hot-hatches out there. Put it on a compact circuit like Baskerville though and the Pro_Cee'd GT has just the right recipe. Modest power, but a great chassis.

Throwing it into a corner while trail-braking can see the Pro_Cee'd GT’s tail step out a few degrees, but it proves remarkably controllable on the limit.

And all the while, the Michelins provide outstanding grip. Even many hours of track time did little to dent their performance.

Track time did show a few flaws though. The first was the brake pedal. There’s nothing wrong with the way the brakes slow the Pro_Cee'd GT down, but the pedal has a long travel that doesn’t feel sporty.

It also tends to spin up the inside wheel easily while exiting corners. The traction control does its best to catch it, but as far as brake-based pseudo LSDs go there’s still some work needed here.

Oh, and it doesn’t appear that the stability control completely goes away when you press the ESC button. These are small complaints though, and highlight just how accomplished the rest of the package is.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: The Kia Pro_Cee'd GT has yet to be tested by ANCAP.

Safety features: Stability control (allegedly switchable), traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist.

The Pro_Cee'd’s airbag suite comprises dual front, front-side and full-length curtain airbags, supported by pre-tensioning front seatbelts and three-point belts for all rear passengers.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Pro_Cee'd GT is little more than a more expensive and more stylish version of the Koup Turbo.

Though some of the performance numbers do align, there’s a greater depth to the Pro_Cee'd GT that sets it apart.

It’s got genuine handling credentials, good steering and a tractable powertrain. And all for a retail price that’s less than $30k.

Kia expects to sell 100 Pro_Cee'd GTs per month, which is substantially more than the number of Koups the company currently sells.

Still, with the way the GT looks and drives, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if Kia moves quite a few more through its showrooms.

 

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

  • 2014 Kia Pro_Cee’d GT - $29,990
  • 2014 Kia Pro_Cee’d GT Tech - $33,490

 
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