MY15 Kia pro_cee'dKia continues to proceed with a great deal of enthusiasm into the global markets, with a particular emphasis on Europe. Take a look at the all-new Kia pro_cee’d GT for a solid insight into the South Korean makers intentions.

A word or two about the name first: the title pro_cee’d GT drives sub-editors and computer spelling checkers to distraction. “All lower case, a weird underscore and that unexpected apostrophe,” the subs mutter, “but I guess we’re stuck with it…”

MY15 Kia pro_cee'dThe really odd thing is that pro_cee’d GT isn’t used on the new Kia’s badges! Rather they simply say cee’d on one side of the hatch’s rump, and GT on the other. The ‘pro_’ having apparently confused even the stylists.

But, let’s forget about the name and concentrate purely on the car. This Kia is a brilliant machine at a very affordable price. Starting at $29,990, plus on-roads, it has excellent styling, a powerful engine and stunning handling that surprised all who tested it on road and at a racetrack during the press launch.

MY15 Kia pro_cee'd
A three-door hatchback, the sporting Kia has sleek lines that begin with the now familiar four-part daytime running lights (DRLs) that sit below the ‘Schreyer’ grille, there are swages on the doors and the side windows sweep up towards a coupe-like tail.

Red painted brake calipers sitting inside 18-inch alloys complete the sporting effect. Full-on car enthusiasts will also see the high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres as part of the fashion statement.

Inside, are sports seats by leather and suede Recaro that have the hand-finished look thanks to the red stitching that contrasts with the black trim. The Recaros also carry red stitched ‘GT’ badges.

MY15 Kia pro_cee'd
The dash area has plenty of bling thanks to piano black finish with bright metal-look highlights. As in other cars tested recently we found the piano black gathered dust within minutes of it being wiped clean.

Pro_cee’d GT has a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol unit as used in a couple of other sporting models in the range. Unlike other powerplants in this class, which develop 200 horsepower (147 kilowatts), Kia has cleverly found an extra couple of horses to bring it up 202 hp (150 kW), so it can brag it’s the most powerful in its class. Love that attitude!

MY15 Kia pro_cee'dReally worth bragging about is the torque output. The engine produces 265 Nm all the way from 1750 revs to 4500. Even then there’s no sharp drop off and the engine is still pumping out 240 Nm at 6000. Redline is at 6500 rpm.

As sporting drivers, we love the fact that the pro_cee’d GT is sold only with a six-speed manual gearbox. But feel Kia will find this a handicap on the real-world market where many people are buying fashion before function – and will want an automatic transmission.

MY15 Kia pro_cee'd
A six speaker audio system has a full range of inputs, including Bluetooth music streaming. Unfortunately there’s no satellite navigation, even as an option at this stage. The European system installed in the Kia GT (the car is built in Slovakia and originally there was no intention to sell it outside Europe) doesn’t work in Australia.

A local satellite navigation system is being developed for the Australia market, but won’t be available until late this year. Retrofitting to cars sold prior to then is all but impossible as it requires major changes to the electronics as well as the interior trim and dash area.

MY15 Kia pro_cee'dSAFETY
Crash prevention or mitigation features include Electronic Stability Control; Vehicle Stability Management; ABS brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist; and Hill-start Assist.

A rearview camera and sensors are standard on all models.

Protection during a crash is aided by six airbags; seat-belt reminder; impact-sensing door unlocking; three child seat anchors; as well as two IsoFix child-seat mountings.

MY15 Kia pro_cee'dPro_cee’d GT has achieved a five-star rating in European testing and the importers are confident the same result will be achieved in Australia.

Recaro seats look good and support quite well, though you wouldn’t call them full-on sports units if you’re planning some heavy-duty track use.

“Track use?” I hear you mutter, “surely not…” Well, we have a big surprise for you, we spent several hours doing an inordinate number of laps at Baskerville Raceway in Tasmania and came away extremely impressed. This little GT has immense grip through its Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres, as well the benefit of significant input from Australian suspension tuners and is amazingly easy to control even when stretched to the limit.

MY15 Kia pro_cee'dThe engine responds with a minimum of turbo lag and has a wonderful linear feel when it’s on song. Though the pro_cee’d GT isn’t competing with the likes of Subaru WRX, VW Golf GTi, Ford Focus ST, Renault Megane RS, Mitsubishi Evo and so on, it provides pretty strong acceleration – and the Kia costs substantially less.

Despite looking like a coupe, the Kia GT is a true four/five seater. The rear seats have headroom and legroom for two adults, with space for a third if they’re good friends. There’s plenty of space for three children, however the stylish upward swoop of the side windows means they are set so high they are hard to see out of.

MY15 Kia pro_cee'dBoot space is generous and it’s easy to load. The rear seatbacks have a 60/40 split.

We also did several hundred kilometres on the open road and in city traffic. Pro_cee’d GT is generally quiet on the road, but there’s fair bit of noise from coarse-chip surfaces. Suspension that’s good at the track can often prove too firm in normal driving, but we found the Kia’s to be surprisingly compliant.

Kia has produced a sure fire winner with the pro_cee’d GT. It looks good, works exceptionally well in the suspension department and is surprisingly roomy. Will the South Korean company proceed further in high-performance field and come up with a big-boost, full-on all-wheel-drive rip-snorter to challenge the aforementioned Japanese and Euro models in that field? Our feeling is a definite yes. Can’t wait…

The complete Kia pro_cee’d GT range is:
pro_cee’d GT 1.6-litre three-door hatch: $29,990 (manual)
pro_cee’d GT Tech 1.6-litre three-door hatch: $33,490 (manual)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for driveaway prices.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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