Silly name? Check. Manual transmission? Check. Non-prestige badge? Check. Impractical number of doors? Check. And yup, 6 months into owning one, I'm glad I got one.
Yes, as I'd commented elsewhere in an earlier review by a fellow owner, it wasn't the sharpest drive I'd tried (that would have been the Focus ST…ah yes…ST...) but it does provide the basis for quite a bit of fun all the same when taking on the back roads. In fact, when I started shopping it wasn't even on the shortlist.
So, amidst all the choices, why this? Well, there's the package (3 doors configuration aside, which requires a certain degree of flexibility to exit especially when parked in the garage) which included a decently-sized boot, rear headroom for average sized adults and a surprisingly decently-build interior which ticks the visual and tactile boxes quite thoroughly. And, bearing in mind beauty-beholder relation, I quite like the way it looks. To me the Pro_cee’d is what happens when the functionally sleek Cerato turns into after its had one too many on a Friday night out.
Killer warranty is a nice thought and the 6-month service intervals aren't as costly as one would expect over the course of several years, thanks to capped price servicing numbers which aren't as insane as one would expect, especially after taking into consideration 91-octane fuel capability (from a GDI engine, really?). And before we go off on a tangent regarding the “scandal” involving capped price service, the only comment I'll make here is a recommendation to find out what the triggered it off. And I'm happy to report, after 6 months of mixed start-stop slog and hard back road driving which I have been averaging 8.2l/100km to-date the only interior rattles I get are from the coins in the removable cup holder.
Being the bog-standard non-GPS, non-Tech spec means there's no sunroof (because mounting a bike rack was more important to me) and no touch screen on the centre console, both of which I am happy to live without but the HIDs on the Tech spec would have been nice. Free Google maps on my phone and a decent phone holder were reasons for giving the GPS upgrade a miss.
Sharing the same 1.6t power plant with its once-removed cousin from Hyundai and fraternal Koup twin, some turbo lag is occasionally noticeable but nowhere a showstopper while the 6-speed stick shift, although lacking the tactile feedback of an ST or Civic Type-R, does the job decent enough a job to keep my left palm warm on a frosty winter morning blast up to Lake Mountain.
Taking it down my favourite back roads, I find it sufficiently chuckable to be happy taking the longer route home from work, where torque and tyres work in near-unison to end a long day with a wide grin, while wondering if a less muffled exhaust note or stiffer ride would be things I would appreciate when not driving it hard and stuck in traffic on my daily pootle. Power and torque on the other hand, I don't need but would welcome more of all the same. Another welcome element is the absence of torque steer which only shows up when you try rather hard. Or turn off the ESP.
Not seeing many of it on the road makes for interesting conversation as well. “Hey, I saw a silver one going past me today…” Actually sounds less inane than writing it here. Would a posher badge have helped with its popularity? Possibly, especially based on the sort of comments I've encountered such as “not being caught dead in a Korean…”, “Kia’s are little more than upmarket Protons…”, etc.
Prior to actually getting the Pro_cee’d I read various reviews in both local and foreign publications which mostly summed things up in quite the same manner as I would - it's not the sharpest drive on the block and definitely won't win any driving or handling awards. It also, to some extent, defies categorisation: hot hatch? Nope. That's the Golf GTI, Megane RS, Focus ST, et al…the Pro_cee’d may have the size but lacks the numbers to keep up with these big boys. To put things in perspective, it has similar power and torque figures as a Mk5 Golf GTI. Pocket rocket? Not really either - it's sort-of half a size larger than the other ST or GTI. Family hatch? Er…not really either, although once you get past the doors, the interior is surprisingly comfy in a snug way.
So there you have it -Peter Schreyer's silly-named not-hot 3-door manual-only Euro-made Korean hatch. You either get it or you don't. If like me, you did actually wonder about trying it, I would recommend at least putting any preconceived notions on hold and actually giving it a try.
Because now that they've decided to stop bringing it in, soon you won't be able anymore.