Pro_cee’d with caution – this is one quick car!
The GT, three-door flagship version of Kia’s family hatch is the one of the most elegant and striking sports models on our roads today. It looks a million dollars, it delivers, it won’t break the bank. What’s not to like?
Well, two things, actually. The start-up and sign-off signature tune, presumably designed to personalise car to driver and bond the two, has me pulling out my hair. Much like ‘muzak’ in lifts, I wish I could silence it forever.
The second is two superfluous rising coloured bands flanking the main dials which indicate torque and turbo charging. Sorry, but when I’m flat out enjoying myself, I want to concentrate on the road. They’re just too distracting.
Other than that, all is sweetness and light. The pro_cee’d GT has so many other smart touches to delight the eye and invokes such stirring emotions when driving it that I forgive mildly irritating glitches.
Visually, for example, the three-door GT version is a stunner. With its wedge shaped profile, iconic foursome of ‘ice cube’ LED daytime running lights and sprinkling of GT badging, this is a car to parade in and plant in the drive just to annoy and mystify the neighbours.
Further good news is that Kia’s interiors go from strength to strength.
Touches of ‘piano black’ panelling add a quality touch and soft-feel plastic on doors and dash cut no corners in quality. Generously padded leather and suede Recaro sports seats – complete with the GT logo – are the bee’s knees in terms of support and comfort and look the business.
All instruments fall to hand neatly and then there’s the delight of an easy set-up sat-nav and intuitive touchscreen function that saves time and frustration.
When you’re involved in piloting a fast-moving sportster like this, it’s also a sensible choice to have a digital speedo – there’s your exact speed in real time, at a glance.
All this would be so much pie in the sky, however, if the performance fell flat. Happily, the pro_cee’d is as smoking hot as it looks and guarantees driving satisfaction every trip, if you have red blood in your veins and a love of all things petroliana.
That’s what is at the heart of the beast – a surging, full- revving, direct injection 1.6 petrol engine capable of propelling the GT to 60mph in 7.4 seconds and on to a theoretical top speed of more than twice the legal limit.
Retuned suspension and steering and powerful all-disc brakes translate to convincing driving credentials. Smart, sharp steering achieves accurate piloting and cornering is so flat and controlled that I circuited a deserted roundabout on a quiet road twice, just for the hell of it.
The only trade-off is a consistently hard ride.
I quickly made friends with a fast-action six-speed manual gearbox and was reassured by the power and progression of the braking system, which has consistently good feel.
With decent rear legroom and a fair-sized boot, the GT makes a good case for everyday practicality. But I’d buy one simply for the great looks and driving zeal that makes every trip an experience.
Engine: 1.6 turbocharged direct injection petrol engine
Performance: 0-60mph in 7.4 secs, top speed 143mph
efficiency: Combined 38.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 171g/km