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Pro_cee’d will be Kia’s top local performer

Please proceed: With a 234km/h top speed and high-performance tech, Kia’s sportiest model to date will be a true hot-hatch.

Aggressive Kia Pro_cee’d will take the performance baton from Koup Turbo

Kia logo18 Oct 2013

By DANIEL GARDNER

KIA’S chassis engineers say the European Pro_cee’d GT turbo hatch will be an even sharper tool, with more aggressive ride and handling, than the just-launched and Korean-sourced Cerato Koup when it arrives here in early 2014.

Sharing the 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo engine of the freshly launched Koup Turbo, the GT hot hatch will take a step further into the high-performance market with sharpened handling and fewer concessions than the slightly softer, ‘long-legged’, Koup.

Key to the roll-out of two identically-powered pocket rockets in the same market is how to differentiate them. As well as being an even sharper drive, expect the Pro_cee’d to command a more ‘premium’ market positioning than the Koup (offset by a higher sticker price).

The Slovakian-built GT shares the Koup’s front-engined, front-wheel drive layout, but will bring more high-performance-focused technology, such as multi-link rear suspension, and Michelin Pilot Sport tyres.

Local development of the Pro_cee’d has already begun, with engineers taking to the open roads around New South Wales in a European market version.

Kia’s technical consultant Graeme Gambold explained to us this week that road testing is essential in order to create “random inputs’, which a racing circuit cannot provide.

“Proving-ground developed cars make a great proving ground car,” he said. “We test on public roads to develop a good road car.” When finalising the recently launched Kia Koup, Mr Gambold’s experience developing and racing a variety of competition cars lead to an approach similar to tuning rally car suspension systems.

He explained that very stiff springs and dampers are not suitable for Australia’ s inconsistent roads and that, combining soft springs with very heavy anti-roll bars results in a chassis that can absorb impact without rolling in corners.

When it arrives early next year, the Pro_cee’d will have undergone the same development process to maximize its road-manner on local asphalt.

Before home development had commenced the Pro_cee’d had already impressed the design team at Germany’s famed Nurburgring, managing a top-speed of 234km/h – 4km/h higher than previously reported.

Kia Australia general manager Kevin Hepworth said that the next addition to the sports model line-up will have “an extra level of performance”.

“The Koup is tuned for a degree of comfort, long legs and cruising. The Pro_cee’ d GT is very focused. Sharper in the steering, sharper in the ride,” he said.

But if that’s not enough, the initial 1.6-litre variant may even be followed by a more powerful Golf GTI rivaling 2.0-litre turbo variant.

“The Pro_cee’d chassis will easily handle a 2.0-litre turbo and it’s probably on the long term wish list,” said Mr Hepworth.

“We do have a 2.0-litre turbo petrol available they run it in America - in the Sportage and in the Optima and, in both cases, it is a very capable engine.

“My personal view is that there are never enough turbos. You could be confident there will be more turbo cars in the future”, said Mr Hepworth.

The Pro_cee’d will be Kia’s first venture in to the Australian hot-hatch market and the Golf-sized three-door will only be sold in Australia and Europe.

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