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The Kia Pro_Cee’d GT sees the company enter the hot-hatch fray for the first time.
It was designed and developed for Europe, though Kia Australia is bringing the three-door version here in early 2014.
This will be first model from the Kia Cee’d range to be sold locally. The regular model is Euro-focused and was always considered too expensive to import, with Kia Australia instead relying on the Cerato.
We’ve tested the Pro_Cee'd GT in the UK ahead of its arrival to get an early feel for a car that will have the aim of further boosting Kia’s image in Australia. It's like to be priced similarly to the Hyundai Veloster Turbo that costs $31,990, with Kia Australia hoping to get the model before the end of 2013.
The styling of the Kia Pro_Cee’d GT features an aggressive front bumper with bold-looking daytime running lights comprising four LEDs and Golf GTI-influenced honeycombe grille and central air intake.
Twin oval exhaust pipes, a low ride height and 18-inch alloy wheels that fill the wheel arches completes the sporty look.
The engine bay is a key point of importance for a hot-hatch, and here the Pro_Cee’d GT employs a direct fuel injection 1.6-litre four-cylinder with turbocharging.
Outputs of 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque leave the GT shy of rivals such as the Golf GTI (162 to 169kW) and Ford Focus ST (184kW), though this is turned into respectable performance without matching the pace of those cars.
The Kia Pro_Cee’d GT accelerates from 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds, according to the company. Fuel consumption on the UK cycle equates to about 7.4L/100km.
From the driver’s seat, the engine has plenty of low-down urgency and the twin-scroll turbo delivers a punchy – if not electrifying – mid-range boost, before pulling more energetically to the 7000rpm redline.
To help the front-wheel-drive GT cope with the extra power, the suspension is stiffened, there’s a thicker rear anti-roll bar, grippier (Michelin) tyres and bigger brakes.
Head into some corners and the handling is very tidy indeed. There’s enough front-end grip to keep the Kia Pro_Cee’d GT feeling stable in in tight hairpins, and the steering is sufficiently accurate and weighty without providing a great deal of feedback.
The Flex-steer variable set-up of the stock Cee’d is dropped, though the steering rack still has an odd tendency to self centre, lighten unexpectedly at times and generally lacks the sharpness of pricier competitors such as the Focus ST or Renault Megane RS.
The low-speed ride thuds and jitters but bigger bumps are smothered and the GT gets smoother as speeds rise.
Inside, the GT feels every bit as plush as rivals. There are plenty of soft-touch materials, the pedals are brushed alloy, and front occupants sit in figure-hugging leather Recaros.
That driving position is excellent, too, and a smart-looking TFT central colour display between the dials provides vital performance data. Pressing a GT button on the multi-function steering wheel accesses the screen.
In the UK, a Tech grade costs 2500 extraand brings a seven-inch colour display, satellite navigation, seat heating, steering wheel heating, and xenon headlights.
But the standard Kia Pro_Cee’d GT comes with more than enough gear to meet the needs of most buyers.
Despite the three-door body style (though a five-door version will become available in Europe), there’s a decently sized boot at 380 litres, plus generous rear-seat space. Small rear windows and dark rooflining, though, can make the back seat feel a little cramped.
The Kia Pro_Cee’d GT may not be the quickest or most accomplished around a racetrack, but it does have plenty of useable performance.
It looks great inside and out, and even when it comes to Australia a loaded standard equipment list and a five-year warranty can be expected along with pricing that undercuts the likes of the Focus ST, RS Megane and GTI.
The hot-hatch category is extremely competitive, but first impressions are that Kia has judged its first effort well.