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Kia pro_cee’d 1.6 T-GDi GT

Click to view picture galleryTorrential rain, flooded roads,
  winds strong enough to pluck trees
  from the waterlogged ground and
  toss them around as easily as
  tumbleweed
not the ideal scenario
  for putting a pokey GT through its
  paces. However, this was storm-hit
  Britain over the Christmas break and
  there were no options...


SO IT WAS EITHER STAY IN AND WATCH reruns of the epic disaster movie 2012 or man-up and go out and drive in the real-life equivalent. With an-all new GT sitting on your drive, what would you do? Yeah, and that's exactly what we did, too. Packed the car with wellies, torch, spare socks, chocolate (Lindt Orange Intense Noir) and a brace of fully charged mobiles and then, just like the eponymous Jack, we hit the road…

The all-new GT we fired up was the just-on-sale 201bhp three-door pro_cee'd from Kia the South Korean car-maker's very first high-performance model that, honouring the slim GT badge on its shapely rump, is good for 143mph and 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds.

“A top speed of 143mph
and 0-60mph in
7.4 seconds. And the
cost at the pumps?
Officially, 38.2mpg in the
Combined Cycle.
Hard-driven like all our
test cars, the GT
delivered a better than
expected 35.1mpg.
..”
Power comes for a 201bhp turboed direct injection 1.6-litre four-pot petrol unit that's strong on torque 195lb ft of it that serves up a steady surge of usable power from 1,750rpm through to 4,500rpm. So, whether you call it 'proceed' or 'pro_cee'd', this GT can, indeed, proceed smartly…

Acceleration off the line is purposeful with get-up-and-go eager in the important low- to mid-range accompanied, under load, by a pleasingly rorty soundtrack. Use the gearbox well (easy given the GT's close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox's slick change action) and you'll never need to get too close to the red-line to maintain your charge 5K is as high as you really need to go. In fact it's nicely tractable whatever you ask of it, so good news for those who want their sporty hatch to be usable for real-world living: commuting from A to B, shopping, and the like.

And the cost at the pumps of all this? Officially, 38.2mpg in the Combined Cycle. Hard-driven like all our test cars, the GT delivered a better than expected 35.1mpg average.

Kia, as most everybody knows, has strongly established itself in the marketplace by offering a well-judged line-up of quality-built, attractively-styled and temptingly-priced real-world cars for real-world customers. The new GT is no rule-breaker it comes in two trim versions and both come comprehensively equipped for the money: £19,995 (GT) and £23,995 (GT Tech).

Visually it's unmistakably a GT the smart, three-door coupe-style looks underscored by a low and wide street stance that's very eye-catching; distinctive too are the unique 'ice-cube' LED daytime running lights bracketing the high-gloss mesh grille. Separated by beefy side-skirts, two-tone 18-inch alloys with red brake callipers catch your eye. At the tail a steeply raked tailgate, roof spoiler, LED light clusters, under-bumper diffuser and twin tailpipes add to the effect leaving you're in no doubt that this is a sports machine.

The very first thing you notice on swinging open one of the big, long doors are the leather-and-faux-suede Recaro seats; they definitely add 'GT' ambience plus, with long seat bases, decent under-thigh support, and some decent bolstering, they're comfortable and nicely supportive. Both front seats, incidentally, come with power-adjustable lumbar support. Visibility to the front and sides is good you won't have any trouble placing this pro_cee'd accurately on the tarmac.

“Visually it’s
unmistakably a GT
— the smart, three-door
coupe-style and low
and wide street stance is
very eye-catching.
Swing open a door and
so are the
leather-and-faux-suede
Recaro seats.
..”
And while the front seatbelts aren't height adjustable, you do get your belt handed to you on nifty servers. Saves all that spine-popping, yoga-type twisting usually mandatory when buckling-up in coupes.

The overall colour-way is black from headlining to mats via the upholstery. Not totally unexpected in a GT…. Still, there's enough brightwork complemented by high-gloss black inserts and red stitching to keep things lively along with plenty of kit to entertain one-shot power windows, electric door mirrors (heated with powerfold on demand as well as when locking and leaving), AirCon, cruise, trip computer, gear shift indicator, speed limiter, privacy glass, stainless steel pedal set, radio/CD player, USB & Aux ports, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music steaming, ambient cabin lighting, rear parking sensors, and drive-away central locking.

Safety-wise it has all the essentials, including front, side and curtain airbags, stability control, emergency stop signalling, Hill-start Assist, auto lights and wipes, and cornering lights.

Some GT's seem to favour chunky-rimmed steering wheels not the Kia GT, which sports a seriously multifunction three-spoker with a slim rim wrapped in leather with perforated grip areas that's easy on your fingers when you're working it hard.

One button on the wheel that particularly appeals is the one marked 'GT' press it and the full colour LCD instrument display switches instantly from a traditional analogue speedometer to a 'sports' mode with a crystal clear digital speed readout flanked by real-time displays for turbo boost and torque output. Definitely not a gimmick.

Let your left hand fall (a very short way) from the leather rim and it will encounter a tactile glossy spherical gear knob that fits cosily in your left palm and that makes stirring the six-speed manual 'box a pleasure. The handbrake sticks with 'trad' and comes with a nice clean action.

Unlike many of the breed, this GT from Kia has plenty of storage space for all the accoutrements that today's drivers need to cart around with them, from Skinny Lattes to smart phones. Door pockets are big, deep and usefully accommodating plus there's a dedicated holder for your shades, and a large cooled glovebox.

“Unlike many of the
breed, this GT from Kia
has plenty of storage
space for all the
accoutrements that
today’s drivers need to
cart around with them,
from Skinny Lattes
to smart phones.
..”
If you want all the bells and whistles you can spend an extra £2,500 on the Tech model. You'll then get more and even better goodies including climate control, SatNav with a 7-inch touchscreen, heated seats and steering wheel, reversing camera, auto wipes, and xenon lights; and you won't even have to turn a key the Tech also comes with a starter button and smart entry system.

Being a GT doesn't preclude practicality the boot is a realistic 380 litres but whenever you need to lug something around other than a front passenger you can always fold down the 60:40 split rear backrests, trading rear passenger seating for a surprisingly accommodating 1,225-litre loadbay.

Better still, the seatbacks fold level with the boot floor and without tangling in the seatbelts. And it's the same when you need to reverse the procedure; they snap back into place without snagging the belts. A luggage net and sturdy bag hooks are there to keep your weekly shop (and Waitrose wine) safe; and, beneath the boot floor, you'll find a selection of large, functional multi-storage trays. Perfect.

And of course you can take your friends more specifically, your adult friends along for the ride; one beside you and two more behind. Rear seat backrests are set at a comfortable angle and even sitting up tall there's air between the top of your head and the roof. There's space, too, for legs and knees and it's perfectly fine for extended journeys so you won't hear any complaints from those travelling in the back.

And, in spite of the 'kicked up' rear side windows, the rear compartment feels pleasantly airy. If you've got more than three friends, not a problem a fourth will fit between the two rear outers.

Oh, and something else they'll like: the front seatbacks tilt 'n' slide smoothly out of the way for easy access to and from the rear cab and, for those in the front, return to their original settings every time without fail.

The GT puts its power down through its front wheels and there's plenty of front-end bite. The multi-link rear suspension has been tweaked to deliver spirited performance, with firmer springs, stiffer dampers and a fatter rear anti-roll bar along with uprated bushes.

“Helped along by its
eagerness to let you get
the most out of its
engine and gearbox,
it’s gratifyingly quick and
determined whenever
your mood — or life itself
— takes you down
backroads. Equally, its
satisfyingly laid-back for
everyday driving.
..”
And it does; the GT feels gratifyingly planted round fast bends, tracking cleanly through a series of snaking curves. Put though its paces on unfamiliar and soaking wet roads at night, it proved to be both capable and trustworthy. And fun.

As you'd expect, the brakes have been beefed-up and there's a stability control system. The electric power steering has just the one weighting, unlike the more bread-and-butter cee'd models which have an adjustable assistance programme.

And despite the pacey dynamics and 18-inch alloys wearing low-pro rubber, the GT manages a comfortable ride, smoothing out the worst side-effects of bodged British blacktop (for the record, it's currently estimated that over ten billion pounds needs to be spent just to catch up with the backlog of British potholes).

Helped along by its eagerness to let you get the most out of its engine and gearbox, its gratifyingly quick and determined whenever your mood or life itself takes you down backroads. Equally, it's satisfyingly laid-back for everyday driving and when playing the motorway cruiser, when you'll appreciate its well-insulated cabin and easy high-speed gait.

With its winning looks, a £20K price that undercuts most other sporty hot-hatch rivals, oodles of on-board kit, usefully-fast performance combined with everyday usability and a 7-year/100,000-mile warranty, the pro_cee'd GT makes a compelling case for itself; it has 'buy me' written all over its sleek body. As the Borg would say: 'Resistance is futile'. — MotorBar

Kia pro_cee'd 1.6 T-GDi GT | £19,995
Maximum speed: 143mph | 0-60mph: 7.4 seconds | Average Test MPG: 35.1mpg
Power: 201bhp | Torque: 195lb ft | CO2 171g/km