I’ll start with an question; can a Kia be fun and interesting? 2013 may well be the year we get that answer with the release, later this year, of the Kia Pro Cee’d GT, Kia’s first venture into the realm of the hot hatch.
There is without question a stereotype associated with Kia’s and Korean cars in general, the old school motoring faithful dislike their lack of personality, character and the feeling that they are built simply to get from A to B in the least entertaining way possible. My very own childhood is filled with memories of getting lifts in a woefully rubbish P reg Hyundai Accent owned by a friends mum. And oh how we all laughed when at aged 17 a school friend actually bought a P reg Accent with his own money. Basically the past was not very good for the Korean’s; the future however, could be bright.
Early teething problems with cheap materials, dull design and essentially being the 21st century equivalent of Skoda have slowly started to diminish over the past few years, the quality and design aspect are on the up, but scepticism still exists with regards to fun and entertaining to drive. True Kia and Hyundai have hired top European designers who have turned out some good looking machines recently, Hyundai’s i30 and i40 look superb along with Kia’s Optima saloon and crucially the car featured here, the Cee’d and 3 door Pro Cee’d. So really what better car to hit with the performance stick that than the sleek Pro Cee’d.
As to perhaps not rustle the feathers of the big hot hatch players too much, Kia are launching the Pro Cee’d GT with an adequate but not mind blowing 201bhp 1.6 litre turbo petrol engine. Testing the water maybe for more powerful versions later on. With this engine 0-62 is dealt with in 7.9 seconds, not record breaking but quick enough, hopefully the car will feature some slightly more impressive in gear pulling power.
In the looks department Kia have done quite a good job at keeping it subtle a la Golf GTI, the car is stiffened and lowered, has a deeper front grill and wider side skirts and, in true GTI fashion, said grill is bordered by a red pinstripe. There is also matching red brake callipers behind bigger 18” black multi spoke alloys. LED lights also brighten up the front while around the back there are now two exhausts.
Inside the main change has been the seats, copying again from the traditional hot hatch rule book Kia has opted for Recaro leather buckets in the front, like the fast Fords and Golf GTIs of the past. Other changes inside will probably be some form of sport button for increased response through the steering and throttle plus a pretty good standard fit sound/nav system. Expect the Pro Cee’d GT to start at around £23,000.
The last thing to know about the Pro Cee’d GT , is that it will probably come with Kia’s 7 year warranty, not particularly exciting but mightily useful if the GT is driven with all the enthusiasm a hot hatch should be. That is the main thing though that is yet to be known with the Kia, will it be fun enough to drive with enthusiasm? Or will it just look the part while still going from A to B in the least interesting way possible? Roll on summer so we can all find out.