Car reviews - Kia - Pro_ceed - GT
Value, turbo performance, secure handling, responsive steering, cabin instrumentation, practicality, warranty
Room for improvement
Firm ride, road noise intrusion, no sat-nav, dull monochromatic cabin trim, no auto option or five-door
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17 Nov 2014
Welcome to the best Kia we’ve ever driven.
Saddled with one of the most perplexing names in modern motoring history, the Pro_cee’d GT (Proceed) is a warm hatch with strong performance, driving dynamics a cut above the company’s regular offerings and a European style to match its Slovakian sourcing.
Kicking off from $29,990 plus on-road costs for the red one (everything else attracts a $595 metallic paint premium) the Kia already hits the ground running with pricing that is absolutely compelling.
We’re talking about a Golf-sized hatch for Polo GTI money.
Firstly, however, let’s make this perfectly clear. Kia isn’t touting the GT as a GTI competitor. The newcomer is too far down on power, torque and driver aids electrical and otherwise for the engineers at Volkswagen, Renault and Ford to be overly concerned.
But their marketing counterparts ought to be.
For starters, and keeping in mind this is a $30K hatch/coupe, the GT’s interior is sufficiently different from its related Cerato sibling to justify the price differences.
Supportive Recaro sports seats, glossy black highlights for the perforated sports wheel, upper fascia and door spears, and a really nifty electronic speedo display that can be switched from normal analogue-look to a racy digital readout flanked by torque and turbo output gauges really set the scene.
Equipment levels are on the money too, with a reverse camera, rear parking sensors, cruise control, climate control air-con, full Bluetooth audio and telephony and 18-inch alloy wheels included – though the absent sat-nav rankles.
It’s just too bad the main dash, door and console cappings are made from dull monochromatic plastic materials, because most of them are actually soft to touch and always beautifully put together.
The proliferation of red stitching is a bit of a GTI cliché though. Rear vision is poor (and that camera is one of those aftermarket rear-vision mirror-mounted items), and the Recaro headrests jut out forward too much.
Not surprisingly, with its low roof and upswept window line, the GT feels more coupe than hatch sitting inside, but there is true space for five adults as well as effortless access to the rear seat.
Remember, Kia’s priced the Pro_cee’d in the upper-end of the baby hot-hatch class. But for the lack of rear doors, this is as big as a C-segment small car.
Boot space is also a GT forte – it’s deeper than the high-set floor appears since a hidden compartment lurks above the space-saver spare – while a trio of out-of-the-way child-seat anchorage points supplement the ISOFIX latches for girl/boyracers with kids to cart about.
And so to the business end of the hottest Pro_cee’d.
With 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque, the 1.6-litre T-GDI direct-injection continuously variable valve timing turbo twin-cam unit punches well above its weight in terms of smoothness and performance delivery.
But weight is the issue here, because the GT tips the scales at about 140kg over than the Golf GTi – which is significantly torquier – and almost 300kg over the Peugeot 208 GTi with about the same outputs.
So the Kia isn’t especially fast off the line.
However, keep your foot planted and the 1.6L T-GDI overcomes all that mass inertia to pull all the way to the red line.
If you’re prepared to row that short-throw six-speed manual shifter, you can keep the engine on the boil for some rapid high-speed manoeuvring.
Kia says it spent a long time tuning the steering and suspension for local conditions – and that’s on top of the upgrades that the MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear chassis (a first for the company’s products in Australia) has received back in Germany on the Nurburgring.
The upshot is responsive and balanced steering that’s responsive enough to be fun most of the time but not too sharp as for it to feel nervous.
Over mostly dry conditions on grippy 18-inch tyres, the GT turns into corners with flat and predictable attitude, backed up by a reassuring set of brakes.
We have never driven a Kia that handles and corners with the same level of flair and control as this. This is such a breath of fresh air for the company.
Having said all that, Kia is right: the Pro_cee’d is not a hot hatch in any stretch of the word.
There just isn’t the steering tactility or chassis adjustability – partly due to the immense stickiness from the 225/40ZR18 92Y Michelin Pilot Sport 3 rubber, and partly due to the sheer weight of the Pro_cee’d. It feels too planted and heavy to be fun.
And if you try and drive really fast through your favourite set of corners, you’ll soon experience some rack rattle.
On smooth roads the ride is certainly compliant enough, but bumps and ridges – while competently absorbed – are all-too regularly felt inside.
Furthermore, like most German cars, there is a fair degree of road noise intrusion.
But as we said, the company isn’t pitching the GT as a driver’s hot hatch, but rather as a driver’s Kia.
And at around $30K, there is nary a car of this configuration with similar performance or a sense of occasion. The Toyota 86 is more fun and the same price, but pales in the practicality stakes.
Kia reckons the GT will appeal to used-car buyers who might consider a four-year old Golf GTI or Focus XR5 Turbo but are swayed by the newness and (class-leading five-year unlimited-kilometre) warranty, as well as the appealing cabin presentation.
We reckon anybody who wants a European coupe-like hatch with a modern, spacious and practical interior, rorty turbo performance, sharp yet relaxing handling, truly secure road-holding and the peace of mind of a long warranty ought to take a long hard look at the Pro_cee’d.
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