Sam Philip24 June 2013

First drive: Kia pro_cee'd GT

This is Korea's first ever hot hatch. But how hot is it? Sam Philip reports

First drive: Kia pro_cee'd GT

What is it?

Only Korea's first-ever hot hatch! Well, unless the shadowy boffins from North Korea have sneakily developed a homegrown GTI-beater without telling anyone.

It's the sort of thing they'd do.

It is. But the Pro_cee'd GT (and yes, it's as annoying to write as it is to read) is more besides: Kia describes it as the firm's first ‘performance oriented vehicle'.

You mean ‘fast car'?

Well, sort of. Kia isn't pitching the GT as an out-and-out sports beast, but instead a rapid all-rounder. Fast but practical. Quick but accessible. That sort of thing. The words ‘warm hatch' may even have been uttered. Top Gear does not like that phrase.

So is it fast or merely warm?

According to TG's thermometer, somewhere between the two. The Pro_cee'd GT sticks to the tried-and-tested hot hatch formula, with a 201bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre four feeding the front wheels through a six-speed manual, a formula good for an official 0-60mph time of 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 143mph. Not enough to scare the hot hatch big boys - the Focus ST, Astra VXR and Megane RS - but hot on the heels of the new 220bhp Golf GTI.

How is it to drive, then?

Very tidy, all told. The Pro_cee'd's (oh god, even worse with a possessive apostrophe) chassis has been overhauled for hot hatch duty - bumped-up dampers, stiffer springs and bushes, bigger anti-roll bar - and does a good job of keeping things under control on even really nasty roads. Sure, the GT tends to understeer at the limit, and isn't so adjustable on the throttle as, say, the new Fiesta ST, but for fast road driving it feels nicely balanced and boasts plenty of grip. It's an easy thing to drive quickly, and, unusually for a hot hatch, even rides comfortably.

A comfy ride? Isn't that rather damning with faint praise for a 'performance oriented vehicle'?

Well, it depends what you want from your fast hatch. No, the GT doesn't rival the Renaultsport Megane for fingertip involvement - the steering is a touch remote and the brakes could do with more bite - but the Megane is frankly a bit of a steroidal bugger to live with day-to-day. As an everyday runabout with enough power to have fun when your Inner Stig demands it, the GT fits the bill nicely.

So will it give me The Fizz?

Unless you've an especially overactive fizz gland, we fear not. The Pro_cee'd's engine, though powerful enough, is a touch slow to spin up and down, droning lazily rather than whipcracking through the rev range. There's not a whole lot of good noise, either - certainly nothing to rival the crackles, booms and chunters of the fast Minis.

But is it Reasonably Priced?

Oh yes. A fiver shy of 20 grand gets you all the kit you really need - including smart Recaro seats - which makes the GT some six grand cheaper than the entry-level Golf GTI, which packs just 20bhp more. No, the Kia isn't as polished or as satisfying to drive as the VW, but it's a lot of car for your cash...

THE NUMBERS

1.6-litre turbo, four-cylinder, 201bhp, 195lb ft, 0-60mph in 7.4 secs, 143mph, 38.2mpg, 171g/km CO2, six-speed manual, front-wheel drive, £19,995 

Now share it...

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear's code of conduct (link below) before posting.