2014 KIA PROCEED REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Three-door small warm hatch
Price: $33,490 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 150kW/265Nm 4cyl petrol turbo | 6spd manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.4 l/100km | tested: 10.4 l/100km
From a brand once synonymous with cheap transport, to a design and quality-driven manufacturer putting the wind up established players - Kia’s star continues its upward trajectory.
And now, to go with the handsome Kia family face, it now counts a pair of warmed performance models in the range that appeal to the heart, not just the head.
It takes aim squarely at the European-market competitors - Golf, Megane et al - with good looks, improved handling and added refinement.
The hint is in the name: the GT part of the badge evokes grand touring. Think swift, comfortable cross-country travel, with the ability to blat through the hills if required, and you’re starting to get the picture.
Except, for this one, Kia's turned 'style' up to eleven.
Quality: Without the slightest exaggeration, this is Kia Australia’s best interior to date.
You'll find more soft-touch surfaces in the Pro_Cee’d and a precision fit and attention to detail that surpass the Cerato, and also bests others in the Kia range of generally good interiors.
There’s also 7-inch TFT screen in the instrument cluster that, in 'GT mode', can be switched from normal circular speedo to a digital speedo with torque and boost gauges.
That's a party trick not matched within its class, and a novel way of boosting the quality feel to the interior.
Comfort: Despite being a three-door, the Pro_Cee’d provides a surprisingly good amount of space. In the rear there’s as much legroom as any five-door.
Headroom is a touch tighter, but isn’t cramped. There’s a stack of room for two, and accommodation for three close friends on short hops without much complaint.
Up front, with those deeply bolstered Recaro front buckets, the support is superb. They’re easy enough to extract yourself from but provide good grip when cornering quickly.
The front of the cushion does seem very high, and short-legged drivers might find the the softly padded thigh-support intrusive. If only the driver’s seat went a touch lower it would be near perfect.
Equipment: The Pro_Cee’d GT comes standard with dual-zone climate control, leather and suede trim, Recaro front seats, leather wrapped sports steering wheel and gear knob, cooled glovebox, trip computer and alloy pedals.
It also comes with LED running lamps and tail lights, auto lights, wipers and rear-view dimming, reverse camera, reverse sensors, steering wheel-mounted cruise control and audio controls and six-speaker audio with Bluetooth connectivity and USB and Aux inputs.
Additional features of the GT Tech include HID headlights with active cornering, a tilt/slide panoramic roof with electric blind, cargo net, additional 12v outlet in the boot, proximity key and push-button start, plus exterior door handle illumination.
Crucially, at the moment there’s no way to add satellite navigation to the Pro_Cee’d, but Kia promises that will change before the end of this year.
Storage: Swing the tailgate up and you’ll find 380 litres of cargo volume - not too shabby, and only five litres less than a Cerato hatch. Drop the split/fold rear seats and there’s 1225 litres available, that’s 12 litres more than a Cerato.
Inside there’s a well-sized glovebox and centre console, plus front door-pockets and bottle holders for all outboard seating positions.
There are two front cupholders, a cubby at the base of the centre console and overhead sunglasses holder.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: So if not hot, then what?
The 1.6 litre turbo in the Pro_Cee’d GT is the same one you’ll find under the bonnet of the Cerato Koup and spits out 150kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm between 1750-4500rpm.
That’s enough to make the Pro_Cee’d lively, and the boosted mid-range is noticeable, adding tractability across the board.
It’s not blistering - and it doesn’t need to be, instead complementing the chassis balance well.
The clutch weighting and smooth gear-shift are nearly perfect. There’s a good weight to the clutch pedal but not enough to be tiresome in stop-start traffic and the gearshift glides through its gate with precision (albeit with a slightly long throw).
There’s just a moment of hesitation when moving from standstill, but after that the GT piles on torque and carries speed deceptively. Never becoming too ruffled in the process.
If I were to pick a flaw it's that throttle response is a little slow; the engine doesn't gather revs quickly enough for my taste.
That’s part of the 'warm-not-hot' thing again - it's never sleepy but doesn’t fire towards its plateau the way a good Euro can.
That noted, no such quibbles with the stability control.
Left on, the system isn’t a complete killjoy. When slip or loss of traction is detected, it only pulls power back instead of shutting the show down. It's also switchable, but will still intervene if it thinks you’ve overcooked it.
Refinement: On the freeway the Pro_Cee’d is amazingly quiet - not a whisper of wind noise sneaks in and the road roar, even on the coarsest tarmac is well restrained.
Engine noise is very subtle too. Give it the beans and you’ll hear a pleasant induction roar that grows into a rush of exhaust - but it’s not much - a louder set of pipes would be a great match to the package.
Ride and Handling: Kia Australia has retuned the Pro_Cee’d GT to suit local conditions and, as such, we get firmer springs and thicker swaybars. The ride is firm, but not bone-shaking.
On some patchworked rural backroads we found on our testing, the sporty Kia held the road tenaciously and showed the benefit of that local handling tune.
The front tracks accurately and remains commendably flat when cornering quickly. All this without rattling occupants or allowing the rough surface to invade the cabin.
Of course, underneath the rear of the Cee’d you’ll find a multi-link suspension setup, unlike the Cerato’s torsion beam.
This more advanced system, along with grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres, is where the Pro_Cee’d’s confidence-inspiring grip comes from.
Hard starts however will invoke plenty of axle tramp, and you can spin an inside wheel if powering out of a tight bend (the only part of the package that isn’t up to scratch).
Braking: Up front, 300mm vented rotors, and, at the rear, 262 solid discs are tasked with hauling the Pro_Cee’d down from speed.
And no problems here: these brakes can happily take a pounding and pull up surely. The pedal stroke is a little long however, creating a slightly soft feel underfoot.
ANCAP rating: Not rated.
Safety features: ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, stability and traction control, three-point seat belts and adjustable head restrains for all seats, six airbags (dual front, front seat side, and curtain) and pretensioning front seat belts with load limiters.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: As with all Kia models, the pro_cee’d GT comes with a 5-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, along with Kia Connect and five-year capped-price servicing.
Service costs: Scheduled services are set for every 7,500km or six months, and under Kia’s fixed-price servicing scheme range from $183 to $595.
Over a five year/75,000km period the Pro_Cee’d GT’s total service cost would be $2866. For full details and inclusions consult your Kia dealer.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo ($32,990) - Kia’s sister brand, Hyundai, uses the same engine in the oddball Veloster. The styling packs in plenty of aggression, the power-to-weight ratio is a touch better, and so is fuel consumption.
Inside the interior is high-quality but just a half-step behind the Pro_Cee’d, same goes for the handling although it is still a lot of fun. (see Veloster reviews)
Nissan Pulsar SSS ($29,790) - Like the Kia, the Pulsar is firmly a warm hatch. You gain two extra doors, but lose out when it comes to power, torque, fuel consumption and interior design.
Despite not matching on numbers, there’s still plenty to like about the Pulsar’s engine, however the handling isn’t really a strong point. It may be cheaper, but there’s a few good reasons why. (see Pulsar reviews)
Honda CR-Z ($38,490) - If three-door style is essential, and rarity appeals to you, why not try the CR-Z? It even boasts impressive handling and a frugal petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain.
Sadly the power deficit is enormous, the CRZ is well and truly over-priced, underspecced and features a rear seat best suited to garden gnomes.
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Kia brings an exceptionally well thought-out hatch to market in the shape of the Pro_Cee’d GT.
It will always be a niche car, three doors and manual transmission are a tough play in a practical-minded market like Australia.
Because of that, it won’t suit all. However, if you’re looking for something that manages to mix quality, fun, a little bit of oomph and unique style, then the Pro_Cee’d GT might be just the thing.
With a high quality finish inside and out, this is a very easy car to like a lot.
Before you write it off for not being hot enough in a segment dominated by stormers like the Volkswagen Golf GTI or Ford Focus ST, take one for a test drive and focus on the day-to-day liveability it offers.
Kia’s intent with its smart and stylish Pro_Cee’d GT then makes sense.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- 2014 Kia Pro_Cee’d GT - $29,990
- 2014 Kia Pro_Cee’d GT Tech - $33,490