Vijay Pattni12 March 2013

First Drive: new Kia pro_cee’d

TG drives the new three-door version of the cee’d: a car with celebrity DNA…

First Drive: new Kia pro_cee’d

That looks rather tasty...

Doesn't it just? It's the brand new Kia pro_cee'd: a car that continues the South Korean company's assault on punctuation, and also continues its astonishing growth in Europe.

Oh dear, I feel the impending snooze of dreary sales talk.

Bear with us, because Kia's success over this side of Planet Earth is remarkable. Last year, if you count light vehicles only, Hyundai-Kia sold 6.6 million units, making it the fifth largest carmaker behind GM, Volkswagen, Toyota and Renault-Nissan. That's double what they were doing five years ago. Its value has also increased from $800 million in 2005 to a shade under $4 billion last year. Not bad.

(Don't forget, Top Gear made the last cee'd our Reasonably Priced Car. And we've had all sorts of important celebrity type people nailing it three ways from Sunday on our track)

So what's the new pro_cee'd like?

Really nice, actually. It shares the same underpinnings as the new cee'd - which we drove last year - and is thus a really well resolved chassis. For the three-door, the engineers have lowered it by 40mm, widened the front and rear tracks by 17mm and 27mm respectively, pulled the centre pillar back by 22cm, and tapered the rear in a bout of sportification.

And?

It's not really that sporty to drive, sadly. But that doesn't mean it's a bad car, just that the drive can't cash the cheques that svelte body is writing. Overall it's a pleasant thing: the ride is well settled and composed, it grips decently, turns in fine, and the refinement is top notch. Everything feels really nicely bolted together inside too, there's actually a decent bit of space in the back (the doors are 270mm longer to better ingress), and the equipment is good.

But?

The steering feels a bit too slow for the Driving Gloves Brigade, the 133bhp 1.6-litre diesel is a bit rattly, the 1.6-litre petrol a bit lazy, and it just doesn't...encourage you to hoon it. Probably a good thing, actually, as it encourages a more relaxed, responsible approach to motoring. And that in essence is how this - just the second generation pro_cee'd - feels. Grown up. Mature. Nice.

How much?

About £1,500 cheaper than an entry-level Astra GTC, the Kia being a whisker faster to 60mph, a whisker faster on the top end, and a little lighter on its toes with CO2. That could be key here. Plus, there's more good news because later this year, a 200bhp, turbocharged version of that 1.6-litre petrol will emerge, along with a bodykit, some sports detailing and a new milestone in Kia's history. The pro_cee'd GT will arrive in summer 2013, and it will be the most powerful Kia...in the world.

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