Playing Golf: The Kia Pro Cee’d GT

The argument rages on as to who exactly invented what we now know as the hot-hatch, the faster and more driver orientated version of the family-friendly run around. Volkswagen, or more rightly the team of engineers that stayed behind after hours in order to make a mark one Golf go faster and handle better – they’d unknowingly stumbled upon what was to become the Golf Gti - are usually credited with honours, but lovers of Italian cars the world over claim it was Alfa Romeo’s alfasud that really got the ball rolling. Or perhaps it was the original Mini Cooper?  But then the Mini, by which I mean the Alec Issigonis designed one, was never a hatch so, strict as it may seem it’s disqualified from this debate.

Regardless of whom it was other manufacturers were keen to follow suit. Ford brought us the XR2, 3 and 4i, Renault, the 5Gordini and GT Turbo, Vauxhall their SRi and GTi versions of the Nova and Astra, Peugeot the legendary 205 GTi… This list goes on and on.

All of this was happening in the late 70’s and early 80’s of course, long before Kia now Korea’s second largest car manufacturer (after Hyundai) had ever considered making a hatchback of it’s own, let alone a hot one. But now it would appear they too would like a piece of the action.

If ever there was a statement to show how far and how fast Kia have come in a relatively short time, or perhaps even, of their future intensions, it’s the latest incarnation their Pro Cee’d: The 1.6 litre, 201bhp, turbocharged, Pro Cee’d GT.

On the outside at a least, Kia’s latest and fastest offering to-date looks as good as many a European manufacturer’s hot hatch fayre. But then it’s worth remembering perhaps, they did poach Peter Schreyer from Audi to do their designs.

The Pro Cee’d GT gets unique front end treatment which includes the essential red striping and GT badging (no self respecting hot hatch would ever be complete without them) and a wider central air intake the purpose of which is to help keep the oily bits cool. Ice cube - Kia’s words, not mine - LED running lights and fog lamps fill the outermost corners of the lower, broader bumper and there’s chrome and gloss black trim aplenty. At the rear twin exhausts, a subtle spoiler atop the steeply raked boot-lid and further gloss black inserts also hint at the Pro Cee’d’s new found sporty intent. Some rather attractive 18” black alloys that struggle to hide glossy red brake callipers complete the look. To be fair the Pro Cee’d has always been a handsome looking car, these more muscular additions make it more so.

Swing the doors open and the red, black and sporty theme continues. The all-black five-seater interior, gains red stitching on the steering wheel, gear-knob and door trims; the pedals are stainless steel and, in a first for Kia, the front seats are by Recaro - very comfy and supportive they are too. You have to pay extra for luxuries such as sat-nav but the quality of fit and finish is equally as good as may of the longer established, and often more expensive, fleet favourite brands.

So then, what does it drive like?

From the outset it’s clear that the Pro Cee’d GT’s performance isn’t quite in keeping with its looks. These days your hot Megane or Focus will happily dash to 60 in little more than 6 seconds, ask the same of the Kia and not only will you notice that the engine lacks anything by way of aural delight when worked hard, it also takes another  second more to get there. You’ll notice more body roll too come cornering time. Despite stiffened suspension and beefed-up anti-roll bars the Pro Cee’d GT leans a little more than expected; the steering lacks a little in feel, although is it nicely weighted. And, if I was to be really picky, the brakes – 300mm vented discs no-less - would benefit from a little more bite.

Ultimately though the Pro Cee’d GT is car that’s attractive in many other ways. It’s easy to live with, it’s good looking, it’s surprisingly well built, its performance is more than adequate for day-to-day use and it comes with a seven year warranty. Plus, best of all it’s cheaper than nearly everything else it competes with.

Think of it not as a hot-hatch, but rather as a very pleasant warm one. It’s only fair to say it deserves a similar reception.

 

Kia Pro Cee’d GT

Engine: 1591cc 4Cyl 16V petrol turbo

Transmission: 6 speed manual, front wheel drive.

Power:  201bhp @ 6000pm

Torque: 195 lbft @1750 - 4500rpm

0-62MPH: 7.6 Sec

Max Speed: 143mph

CO2: 171g/km

MPG: 38.2 combined

Price: £19,995

 

Many thanks to Kia’s UK press office for the loan of their Pro Cee’d GT

 

www.liam-bird.com

 

@bird_liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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