Curious name, convincing performance
In Italy, it’s very easy to make your model lineup sound sexy. ‘Quattroporte’, to take Maserati as an example, translates to ‘four door’, which is actually rather unimaginative.
Other manufacturers like to deal in numbers, offering a simple reference point for prospective buyers: A1, A3, A4… but this is a process that quickly removes emotion.
After hearing the sporty-looking new Kia three-door warm hatch would be called the pro_cee’d GT, sheer confusion was the only reaction that ensued.
Silly name aside, the on-paper credentials of the funkily-styled Kia pro_cee’d GT stand out beyond the name.
Beyond that distinctive LED light signature sits the familiar 150KW (at 6000rpm), 265Nm (from 1750-4500rpm) 1591cc turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that does double duty in the Hyundai Veloster Turbo. Coupled to a six-speed transmission, the Kia pro_cee’d GT claims 0-100km/h acceleration in 7.7sec with a top speed of 230km/h. Fuel economy is a claimed 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle.
Although billed as ‘warm’ by Kia itself, the presence of Recaro seats and 225/40/18 Michelin Pilot Sport 3s augment the engine’s firepower and push it into the hot hatch realm with ease. Given that, the $29,990 (plus on-road costs) ask for the entry-spec pro_cee’d GT (as tested) represents decent value. Upping the ask to $33,490 is the GT Tech, which adds niceties including a panoramic sunroof and keyless entry and go, among other items.
The Australian pro_cee’d GT further benefits from localised suspension tuning. Taking the Euro specification as a base, Kia’s Australian engineers thrashed the pro_cee’d GT over thousands of kilometres. The resultant spring and damper settings for the MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear suspensions are said to bring greater ride comfort than in the Euro cars. The calibration of the electronically-assisted power steering system is also bespoke to the Australian market.
One area deemed sufficient was the braking system, which uses large 300mm ventilated front discs backed up by 262mm solid discs in the rear.
The tall cabin brings a higher-set driving position than you may have expected, the bolstered Recaro perched upright as you settle your arms with a slight kink at the elbow and grab the multi-function steering wheel. The hot hatch theme continues with alloy pedals and perforated leather around the wheel’s ‘nine and three’. A press of the clutch and grip of the gear lever reveals a satisfyingly snappy shift action.
As expected, the pro_cee’d GT’s turbo motor thrives on torque rather than revs, the delivery linear but feeling restricted in breathing as red-line is approached. This example sounds keener and – oddly – feels more accelerative than in the Veloster, despite the Kia weighing more (1307kg v 1359kg).
It also feels more focused in the corners, with crisp response to steering input and brake pedal alike, though some may find the pro_cee’d GT’s middle pedal a little too jumpy. The Kia corners flat with impressive grip levels, particularly mid-corner, though once under power it can light-up the inside-front wheel, the lack of a limited-slip differential hurting traction. To its credit, the onset of this is well telegraphed.
Although nicely responsive and with a high grip limit, if the pro_cee’d GT does break away, it does so snappily and with little warning. Back off the throttle to quickly to quell power understeer, for example, and the back can kick out quickly, requiring a fast, accurate swipe of opposite steering lock to settle. The same is true when trail-braking into a sharp corner; working the brakes hard provides arresting stopping power, but it feels as though the Kia lifts slightly in the rear as a result. Great if you are Jean Ragnotti, less so if you’re Joe Bloggs.
It may have a confusing name, but the Kia pro_cee’d GT’s all-round performance is utterly convincing.
|Specs||2015 Kia pro_cee’d GT|
|Engine||1591cc inline four-cylinder turbo|
|Power||150kW at 6000rpm|
|Torque||265Nm at 1750-4500rpm|
|Power to Weight||9.06kg/kW|
- Grippy chassis
- Torquey engine
- Snappy manual shift
- Can spin up the inside-front
- High-set driving position
- Less practical than five-door hotties