The Kia Pro_cee’d GT hot hatch may no longer be sold in Australia due to low sales, but the company’s local tuning arm is still making a major impact on the car.
That’s because the updated version of the 150kW turbocharged three-door still sold in Europe is using a suspension tune developed in Australia before the car was axed locally.
Kia Australia pulled the plug on the Pro_cee’d in November 2015 in response to negligible sales, down principally to the fact it only had a purist-friendly manual gearbox.
Aussies don’t like shifting their own gears, and the lack of an auto — such as the group’s seven-speed DCT — limited Pro_cee’d GT sales to 746 units in two years, over a period where the Toyota 86 managed almost 7000.
However, before this decision was made, Kia Australia’s team of engineers led by Graeme Gambold, which revises every Kia sold here - bar the Picanto micro car - did some tweaking to the springs, dampers and more for an intended MY16 update.
It wasn’t to be, but these changes were adopted into the tunes used throughout Europe, with Pro_cee’ds rolling off the Slovakian production line with the Australian setup, moulded around the original European-developed chassis.
This might be small solace to Australian Kia fans, but it shows the skills its Sydney team has.
Meanwhile, Kia Australia COO Damien Meredith told us this week that there appeared to be no chance of the Pro_cee’d returning here in either current or next-generation guise, because it is expected to remain manual-only.
Instead, the company is hoping for a GT version of the 2018 Cerato five-door, with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto shared with the new Hyundai i30, and likely the same circa- 150kW 1.6-litre turbo engine. Such a car would be a readymade bargain Golf GTI rival.