We suspected Kia was onto something when our colleagues in the European media started raving about the pro_cee’d GT. After-all they’ve seen more hot hatchbacks launched in Europe – think Volkswagen, Renault, Opel – than anywhere else on the planet.
The Kia pro_cee’d GT arrived at the Geneva Motor Show last year and apart from thinking they’d made a typo with the name (nope it’s as intended), the general media reaction was: “Wow!” Of course Kia isn’t new to performance hatchbacks but, by comparison, the Cerato Koup and now Cerato Koup Turbo are ‘warm’ hatches whereas the pro_cee’d GT is hot…red hot in fact.
Designed by Kia’s European team in Frankfurt Germany, developed at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany and manufactured at the Kia plant in Slovakia, the pro_cee’d GT is a Kia like you’ve never seen or experienced before.
Kia pro_cee’d GT Overview
We blasted the Kia pro_cee’d GT for a full day at Tasmania’s Baskerville Raceway for the media preview and were very keen to secure one for a week of the usual CarShowroom.com.au testing, including of course our high-speed mountain roads test loop. But before we get carried away with driving dynamics, let’s also highlight the incredible value-for-money of the Kia pro_cee’d GT – two models priced at $29,990 and $33,490 (identical drivelines but the upscale ‘GT Tech’ adds Active HID headlights, sunroof and keyless entry).
The Kia pro-cee’d GT is somewhat based on the cee’d – a European market model we don’t get here – but it’s really so specialized that the relationship is ‘dotted-line’ at best. The three-door GT model has a unique racy look and shares its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine with its siblings Cerato Koup Turbo and Hyundai Veloster.
Apart from its ‘maximum fun’ driving dynamics, inside the Kia pro_cee’d GT is all class with leather-trimmed Recaro seats and a standard reversing camera amongst the inclusions which really underscore that tremendous value proposition.
As we said, this is unlike any Kia you’ve ever experienced…
Kia pro_cee’d GT Engine
We’re now well acquainted with Kia’s ‘Gamma’ turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine. The Korean engineers have done a great job developing this state-of-the-art powerplant with the twin-scroll turbocharger in the exhaust manifold for instantaneous throttle response.
Maximum power is 150kW at 6000rpm and peak torque of 265Nm arrives between 1750-4500rpm.
Drive is to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission (there is no optional automatic) and the Kia pro_cee’d GT covers zero to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds.
Combined-cycle fuel consumption is rated at 7.4l/100kms.
Kia pro_cee’d GT The Interior
In our book, any performance car with Recaro seats and alloy pedals is off to a flying start…and so it is with the Kia pro_cee’d GT. In fact, all things considered – looks, material choices, piano-black highlights, support, comfort and practicality – the Kia pro_cee’d GT’s interior is one of the best.
We like the combination leather/cloth trim with sporty red contrast stitching and the power adjustment for the front seats combines with rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel (and those alloy pedals) to provide a top-shelf driving environment. And we really like the instrumentation – the colourful graphics, the combination of digital and analogue displays and the switchable TFT LCD multi-function display which can provide eye-catching readouts for torque and boost pressure…well it’s a winning package.
Audio is a six-speaker system but don’t look for satellite navigation in the options menu. Kia reckons it will be mid-2015 before the pro_cee’d GT’s Aussie navigation is ready for installation (it wasn’t a model for this market during development and local homologation has been rushed to satisfy demand – navigation hardware development takes time).
Rear seat space is surprisingly good (and access is easy). Luggage space is similarly impressive at 380-litres (with the 60:40 split-fold rear seat in-place) or 1225-litres when folded.
Kia pro_cee’d GT Exterior & Styling
As we mentioned, the Kia cee’d is not a model we see here so the pro_cee’d GT delivers a unique look unlike the familiar Rio or Cerato, The talking point centres on the DRLs – a sensational looking eight ‘ice-cubes’ design (four on each side of the massive cool-air intake).
Above is another version of Kia’s ‘tiger-nose’ grille in high-gloss black mesh with graphite-chrome.
At the rear is another look unlike any other Kia. Complex LED combination lights spill onto the rear three-quarter panels, there’s a diffuser, dual exhaust tailpipes, vertical reversing light and curved tailgate glass.
Side skirts, graphite grey 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres and racy-looking red brake calipers complete a very slick styling job for Kia’s European hot hatchback.
Kia pro_cee’d GT On The Road
The media launch day on the roads around Hobart and the Baskerville race circuit was a tasty entrée for the Kia pro_cee’d GT, but a week at home in Melbourne was a meaty main course worth waiting for. Because it gave us the chance to tackle the familiar roads of our high-speed mountain roads test loop.
Same result however…
Yes, believe the hype from Europe, the Kia pro_cee’d GT is one of the best drives in the red-hot hot hatchback segment. It’s not the most powerful car in class but that turbocharged 1.6-litre is punchy enough, the gear ratios are spot-on and the chassis is a gem.
The combination of that Nurburgring testing and Kia’s well-known local development and unique calibration has delivered a ride compromise which some European brands could do well to replicate – precise and pointy with firmness no doubt but not so firm that ‘non-involved’ passengers will grizzle. Kia has the roll beautifully controlled too (the pro_cee’d GT corners very flat) and the bump/rebound control is amongst the best hot hatches we’ve driven (since the Ford Focus ST in fact).
Those sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres sure help (their fitment as standard further highlighting the great value of the Kia pro-cee’d GT).
Does this mean the pro_cee’d GT gets grumpy back in stop/start city traffic? Well no actually – the turbocharged 1.6-litre is nicely tractable with not a hint of torque steer even in damp going, the six-speeder is light and easy to use and the standard reversing camera has you safely parked in a sec or two.
Kia pro_cee’d GT Issues
We had to give the pro_cee’d GT back to Kia after just seven days.
Kia pro_cee’d GT Verdict
This is a game-changer for Kia, have no doubt. On several fronts in fact.
Obviously the Kia pro_cee’d GT is a genuine hot hatchback – in fact it ranks amongst the best.
But the quality interior (design and materials) is a hint of what’s ahead for Kia. This company has a European styling focus thanks to superstar designer Peter Schreyer and inside the pro_cee’d GT stands-out amongst the Kia lineup.
Buy one now it’s a ripper.
Kia pro_cee’d GT The Competition
Ford’s German-sourced Fiesta ST ($25,990) is a CarShowroom.com.au Favourites in this league. Co-incidentally we had the latest Fiesta ST the week prior to the Kia pro_cee’d GT and were reminded that it too boasts slick German styling inside and out and, despite not quite matching the Kia for grunt, drives like a gem.
Our other CarShowroom.com.au Favourite is the Renault Clio RS200 (from $28,790). We’re huge fans of Renault’s styling guru Laurens van den Acker and the latest Clio is one of his best current designs. You get 147kW/240Nm from Renault’s turbocharged 1.4-litre engine.
And you have to include the Volkswagen Polo GTI on the list. Not as powerful as the Kia pro_cee’d GT (132kW/250Nm for the 1.4-litre Polo) but beautifully designed and made as only Volkswagen can.