The uniquely styled Kia Pro_cee’d GT has a 150kW/265Nm turbocharged engine, and suspension that was developed with the aid of over 480 laps of Germany’s Nurburgring. It also comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres. So, we’ve come here today to Sandown Raceyway to see just how the little three-door stacks up as a weekend warrior.
Well as soon as you get in, there are some instantaneously entertaining things. You’ve got the GT Performance digital dash on the screen, which gives you a read out of your torque, your engine temperature and your turbo boost pressure, which is pretty cool.
But the first issue that we’ve encountered is, there’s just absolutely no headroom. And while these Recaro seats are extremely comfortable and very supportive – great for racetrack driving, and a first in a Kia – unfortunately, you can’t get the seat low enough to get into an ideal driving position, particularly when you are wearing a helmet as well.
Now the Pro_cee’d GT claims a 0-100km/h time of 7.7 seconds, which, while it’s not that fast, around the racetrack, the little 1.6-litre’s quite peppy.
Down here at the front straight at Sandown, we’re in fourth gear pretty much maxed out and that’s just shy of 180km/h. And it feels good.
It’s a little playful in the rear end under brakes, but these Michelin tyres do an excellent job of just keeping it nice and hooked up through the bends… little bit of a squeal to let you know you’re doing things right.
And the gearbox is a really slick shifter as well, it’s a joy to use. Doesn’t like to be rushed. Sometimes if you are coming back through the cogs a little, it can feel a little bit unhappy if you rush through it but overall, it’s very good.
The brakes hold up pretty well lap after lap, but you can start to feel a little bit of fade, kind of beyond five hard laps.
But for a road car – while it’s not a huge surprise – it’s a little bit contradictory to the car, because the Michelin rubber really starts to warm up and give you that grip after about that time, unfortunately. If the two worked in unison a little bit more, it’d be quick a package through the corners and under brakes.
So again, coming into Turn 1 here at Sandown, and just a little bit of a push from the rear end under brakes – still balanced – but it’s definitely not shy of getting the rear end a little bit light.
But the front turn in is quite good. And while this car doesn’t have an LSD, it measures the power quite well and again, helped by that sensational grip from the tyres.
Into third, into fourth at 134km/h. The Pro_cee’d GT has a top speed of 230km/h, which we’re not quite going to touch today, but it’d definitely be fun chasing that down on the right track.
You can feel that suspension work that they’ve done as well. Again, for a humble little hatchback, that’s not a track special or anything remotely like that, it puts up with a hard time pretty well and it sits nice and flat through the corners… there’s a bit of roll but nothing too excessive.
Definitely if you were to do more track work, basic things like brakes, would be a worthy addition to this package, and maybe even if you were happy spending a bit more, a front diff would be excellent as well.
But you wouldn’t have to do too much to the engine, that bit is pretty smooth.
It’s moving around a bit more under brakes, but it’s quite a little cracker of a car. Definitely puts a smile on your face. And for a bit of weekend entertainment, not a bad way to go about it I reckon.
Fun, agile and plenty fast, for around the $30k-mark, Kia’s first attempt at a genuine hot-hatch offers more than enough thrills to keep beginner track junkies entertained.