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Kia Ceed GT review: first go in Kia's new hot hatch

It's not finished yet, but Kia let us have a go in its new hot hatch anyway

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The apostrophe has gone, but an actual latter seems to have fallen off the badge too. Not a GTI?

Nope, not a GTI. Perhaps not a GT either, if your definition of that is is an old-school coupe. But anyway, let’s not get hung up on historical definition. The Kia Ceed GT is a warm hatchback.

It’s a 1.6-litre turbo with 204bhp. No match for the full-on hot hatches, and actually an uncommon power output. Peugeot does a 308 GT with 225bhp. There are Seat Leon FRs (not Cupras) with 190bhp. VW Golf GTIs start at 230bhp these days.

Enough power to stimulate?

Just about. We drove a prototype – sales don’t start til spring 2019 – and rough edges still need to be honed away. When we asked it to accelerate from low revs in a high gear, the force came in slight surges rather than an even flow. And more generally, this just seems a slightly unenthusiastic engine.

It’s about the sleepy initial pick-up, and lack of top-end zeal. To be fair the turbo is pretty useful across the middle rev-range. A sport button (only on the DCT automatic version) brings the throttle map closer to the top of the pedal arc. A flap in the exhaust gives a more purposeful bass with big revs. And it feeds in loudspeaker augmentation for good measure. Well, not so good actually. The exhaust, if properly done, will be enough ta.

You can have a manual, but we tested it will the effective seven-speed double-clutch ‘box. Third and fourth ratios are fairy short, favouring acceleration. So, those 204 ponies, when fully trained, should be plenty for fun and decent progress, if the chassis is a good match.

And is it?

Largely. The steering is well-weighted and gets things moving progressively, so it’s an easy car to place. Deeper into the bend an interesting enough tyre-to-hand connection comes to light.

It’s well-balanced and gives you a measure of throttle-adjustment. Kia and parent company Hyundai are beginning to get this stuff right fairly consistently (the Hyundai i30N is a belter). And of course the moderate engine output means you dodge torque-steer mess.

In a straight line the ride can be crunchy over small sharp edges, as you’d expect from 18-inch wheels, but coping with bigger stuff comes naturally to the springs and dampers, even though they’re lower and stiffer than in the base Ceed. To be honest, it’s tyre noise that’s the biggest issue from the chassis. Maybe that’s the performance-minded Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres.

How about the looks?

No widened front wings or huge aero, but it is subtly primped up. The front and rear bumpers are new, with double pipes at the back. Side sills carry red flashes, and there’s a subtle red mesh behind the grille too.

Inside, the standard and fairly plush Ceed dashboard remains untouched, but the seats and pedals are suitably sportified. Plus the inevitable and not unwelcome red stitching wends it way around the place.

Worth a look then?

Depends on how Kia prices it, and whether it gets good insurance ratings. It might end up as most of a hot-hatch for a fraction of the cost to own. If so, by all means look hard. But if it turns out to be most of a hot hatch for only marginally less money, then turn away.

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