With in excess of 65,000 cars a year swapping dealership forecourts for UK roads, Kia is well and truly mainstream. Now looking to build on its noteworthy success, the Korean manufacturer has aimed its arsenal at the highly competitive European hot hatch scene. Its weapon of choice is the Kia Pro Cee’d GT, but the question remaining is whether or not the pocket rocket can stand its ground when pitted against an abundance of insanely talented, tried, tested and rated alternatives.
Kia’s ambition to enter this segment has been the subject of a series of widely publicised rumors and speculation for some time now and is likely in part a result of some kind of corporate led brand building game. Despite this, Kia has been careful to avoid comparisons with the big boys from the blue oval, Renault and VW.
Scanning performance figures for the Pro Cee’d GT, it becomes immediately apparent that the Korean offering is more ‘warm’ than ‘hot’. Designed, developed and constructed in Europe, it’s the marques first implementation of a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine and generates in excess of 200 petrol powered horses. That’s sufficient for a flat out dash to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 143 mph. It’s quick, but not quite ‘pin you in your seat’ quick.
So, lacking the oomph required to confidently fight of the Golf GTI in an all out pink slips challenge. It more naturally aligns with the SEAT Leon SC 1.8 TFSI and the VW Scirocco, but would leave the Suzuki Swift Sport feeling well and truly defeated, and with an entry price of £20,000, it’s the dearest of the bunch.
The GT also boasts increased engine noise, but the exhaust sound is a little on the boring and characterless side. Overall it’s a fantastic drive, not a track day monster or even top of the class, nevertheless it’s quick on the straight and has plenty of grip around the bends. All this is achieved through the addition of stiffer springs and dampers along with a thicker anti-roll bar at the rear.
Call it vain, but a key consideration for any potential three-door hot hatch buyer is aesthetic appeal. And, the Pro Cee’d GT has a striking sporty, but stylish exterior of the kind that’s bound to turn heads. Although far from unique, details like the honeycomb grille and single red stripe across the front splitter really help lift the overall aesthetics. Meanwhile a set of four ‘ice cube’ LED daytime running lights, fitted either side of the front grille give the hot hatch a unique ‘stand out’ look.
A set of stylish bespoke alloys and dual exhausts at the rear complete its exterior appeal. On the inside there’s a super set of shape hugging Recaro sports seats to keep you firmly buckled in. The driving position is spot on as is visibility, minus a C-pillar blind spot. A large TFT colour display sits comfortably between the dials. There’s also no cheap plastic on show, which can’t be said for some of its rivals. All trims come with leather, brushed alloy pedals, reversing sensors and Bluetooth as standard.
If you have the cash to splash, an upgrade to the Tech model brings additional kit in the form of xenon headlights, heated seats and a heated steering wheel. There’s even an elaborate seven-inch touch-operated sat-nav.
The Pro Cee’d GT benefits from a large rear bench, plenty of head space and flat floor, there’s ample room to accommodate three adults in the back. Meanwhile the boot is capable of housing 380 litres of luggage, but the rear seats are split 60:40, which frees up additional room as and when required.
As with the standard Cee’d, the car is sturdy and well-built. To date the standard range has proved to be impressively reliable with no reports of recalls or major issues. The Koreans have also thrown in a comprehensive 100,000 mile warranty, which covers any major battle wounds of the mechanical kind. Safety wise, the GT is based on the standard Cee’d, which was awarded a full set of five gold stars following a Euro NCAP crash safety test.
As you would expect from a performance tuned version of a standard three door hatch back, the Pro Cee’d GT takes a hit in terms of fuel economy. Lacking start/stop or indeed any kind of fuel saving technology, it delivers 38.2 mpg with CO2 emissions of 171g/km, which falls far short of the class leaders.
- Look & Feel
- Space & Practicality
- Standard Equipment
- Running Costs
The Pro Cee'd GT is no Golf rival, but that wasn't Kia's intention anyway. It's a 'warm' hatch with an instantly recognisable physique, 200 petrol powered horses, 7.4 second 0-60 times and a top speed of 143 mph. For first timers, they've done a pretty good job, although, an entry level price of £20,000 may just be a stumbling block.