Fourteen months in.
I am no expert in relationships but if you spent up to two hours with someone, or something, almost daily you think you would have learnt everything there is to learn. So what have I learnt about my (yes, poorly-named) Pro_cee'd?
For starters, I still choose to take the long way home at every opportunity. No, I haven't forgotten my personal benchmark for driving fun (Focus ST) and, yes, for the umpteenth time, the Pro_cee'd is definitely less sharp, especially on the limits than any of them. But "less sharp" hasn't meant I've not enjoyed every drive, especially when checking out new twisty roads in the Yarra Valley. Some sound symposer-esque aural input would be appreciated too - my main insignificant gripe on my daily drive is the lack of drama when flooring it. No exhaust roar, no kick-in-the-back whoosh or torque steer driven drama. It just goes.
Once you get past the tricky 2-door configuration, which for taller adults mean some degree of twisting, the rear space has repeatedly proven surprisingly decent for two adults, with adequate rear head and legroom. And once everyone's happily settled in the snug seats there's quite a bit of tech toys to keep first-time passengers talking for a while. Two of them being the reverse camera display, which unlike the tech-spec model, appears in the rear-view mirror and the (admittedly gimmicky) switchable display LCD speedometer. It also helps the interior still feels nicely intact and devoid of squeaks and rattles after fourteen months, although some have commented about it being a little dark and could do with more colour.
In addition to the silly name AND non-posh badge, being a manual-only has made this car a turn off so many that Kia AU has decided it wasn't worth selling anymore. I have long accepted that you either get it or you don't. I for one enjoy shifting my own gears and have found the shift action quite pleasant once things have warmed up and you get past the initial notchy-ness. The decent amount of torque below 2500rpm means highway overtaking is a relatively drama-free event until someone sees a Kia in their mirrors and, thinking its a slow one, cuts into your lane without signalling. The clutch is pleasantly light albeit a tad high set, which to me is one of the most obvious dead giveaways of its family hatchback origins, along with a relatively large but functional steering wheel enlivened by red GT stitching. Was a flat-bottomed wheel too much to ask for?
Now for the boring stuff. Fuel consumption has been hovering around the official combined figure of 8.0l/100km involving a relatively even mix of urban, highway and hard twisty road driving. Also, this may be imaginary but despite the user manual stating the car is 91-octane friendly I find it feeling smoother running on 95.
I was admittedly a little worried about the 6-month servicing interval but having a dealer relatively close to my workplace has meant this potential bugbear been relatively uneventful after two rounds. Thankfully. Servicing costs are a bit on the high side (around 30% greater compared to my benchmark) but I comfort myself with the thought that difference has been offset by a significantly lower purchase price.
Regrets? I initially was smitten by the Tech specced model with the lovely sunroof and centre console LCD screen but chose to go non-Tech because I could mount a roof rack. However, fourteen months later I still haven't gotten round to getting one and occasionally wonder if I made the right call. Also, going with my "you're only young once" mantra I wondered if I should have just gone all out on the heart-driven decisions...
As mentioned in my initial review a year ago, this isn't a car that does anything outstanding - it's not the sharpest, best looking or most practical in its class. However, to me, it balances most things that matter to me well. That opinion has not changed. But yes, of course a part of me would still wishfully stare at my benchmark choice whenever I see one go by, especially in stealth grey.
Even after fourteen months.