THIS week I have mostly been driving a very quick Kia – a car that always gives you a good welcome when you slip behind the wheel and turn the key.
The pro_cee’d GT is the most eagerly anticipated new model in Kia’s history, their first real high performance offering – and while only 50 of the GT 1st Edition will be available for sale here in the UK, the good news is there are actually other variants that might cause you the odd laundry problem.
Kia have moved on a bit from building up the public perception of their creditable range of cars. So if you get the chance to experience what they’ve achieved by slotting a 201bhp 1.6 litre turbo engine into one of the sharpest three door hatchback bodies around, grab it. With both hands.
The pro_cee’d GT hints at a car that might just offer a bit of scintillating performance. Actually it doesn’t just hint – it goes all shouty without even moving.
And while it doesn’t set out to be the most powerful car in its class, Kia like to think it can offer a bit of everyday usability and civility.
But its day job is putting the hot back into the hot hatchback tag. And it does it rather well – high performance for a modest £20,000.
The already sporty lines of the pro_cee’d have been embellished with performance-car additions like the ‘ice cube’ daytime running lights which give the GT a unique look of its own, and one that attracted a lot of positive comment during its time in our hands. ‘What’s that?’ ‘A KIA?’ Blimey, good grief and other exclamations were the opening salvos of quite a few conversations about the merits of the car.
The high-quality interior has a dark and purposeful aura to it, with great body hugging Recaro sports seats (a first for Kia) and that trademark Kia steering wheel with more buttons than the flightdeck of the starship Enterprise.
And powered by a turbocharged version of the ‘Gamma’ 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol engine, the pro_cee’d GT can warp factor its way to 60mph in 7.4 seconds and has a top speed of a more than adequate143mph.
The GT button on the steering wheel changes the configuration of the main dial ahead of you to show torque and turbo usage, highlighting the potency of the package. And you’ll love the sporty sound the exhaust spits out when you work it hard.
Its re-tuned suspension ensures the pro_cee’d GT is more than capable of handling its impressive power and torque outputs and the package is set off by a set of stylish 18-inch alloy wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres. The brownie point here is that it’s still a comfortable and well behaved car to drive in everyday use.
The steering has, they say, been tuned for a more direct and sporting feel and the brakes are the largest of any fitted to the cee’d range. The calipers are big and red and provide good, efficient stopping power when needed.
Two trim lines – ‘GT’ and ‘GT Tech’ – are on offer, both extensively equipped in typical Kia fashion. The pro_cee’d GT will be followed in early 2014 by a GT version of the five-door cee’d.
It’s a bit of a Q car – and that Q stands for quality as well as quick.
FASTFACTS: Kia pro_cee’d GT; £19,995; 1591cc 4 cylinder 16v turbocharged, 201bhp, 265Nm; six speed manual gearbox; fuel – urban 29.1, extra urban 46.3, combined 38.2; top speed 143mph, 0-60mph 7.4 secs; CO2 171g/km; will it fit the garage? 4310/1780/1430 (l/w/h); seven year Kia warranty.