There are two distinct types of hot hatch. The smaller, supermini-based cars with around 200bhp like the Ford Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTi and Renaultsport Clio. And the bigger mid-size cars with at least 250bhp like the Focus ST, Astra VXR and Renaultsport Megane. Apart from the Golf GTi, which only has 220bhp.
The Kia Pro_Cee’d GT (and the less punctuation-heavy five-door Cee’d GT) is caught somewhere in the middle. It’s the same size as the bigger cars, but only has the power of the smaller ones.
It’s a good-looking thing. The base Pro_Cee’d is attractive in a completely inoffensive way, but the GT’s bodykit lends it a suitably sporty look. The four-element fog lights are a bit weird, but they work somehow. The interior, on the other hand, is not an interesting place to be. Kia have tried to jazz it up, but you can’t escape the vast expanses of black plastic. At least everything falls to hand easily and is screwed together properly.
So far, so standard. The visual transformation from humdrum to hot is less successful than some, more successful than others.
Power comes from a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine producing 198bhp and 195lb/ft of torque (221lb/ft on overboost). Those numbers are pretty much identical to the 208 GTi, but because the Pro_Cee’d weighs nearly 200kg more, it is around a second slower from 0-62mph, with a time of 7.7 seconds.
Top speed of 143mph is about right, but combined economy of 38.2mpg and emissions of 171g/km are off the mark (we managed high 20s in mixed driving). Power isn’t exactly lacking, but neither does the GT feel all that fast, the weight holding it back. The overboost is difficult to access, too – it’s right at the bottom of the throttle pedal’s travel, further away than it actually wants to go. No complaints about smoothness or refinement though, likewise the gearbox.
The GT sits wide and low on the road, giving fantastic roadholding but little feel. Hot hatches are either playful or precise and this is neither. It doesn’t help that the steering wheel is too thin-rimmed and just doesn’t feel right.
The ride is extremely stiff, as well. I can forgive that if the seats are good, but in this case they aren’t. At least not for my old back injury, which started complaining after about 90 minutes. Not crippling, but still unpleasant.
There is plenty of standard kit on the GT Tech model tested here, which adds satnav, reversing camera, heated seats and steering wheel and dual-zone aircon. No DAB radio, though. That generous spec goes someway to making up for the rather steep £22,905 price tag. A similarly equipped Fiesta ST – my favourite hot hatch – costs over £3,000 less.
The Pro_Cee’d GT (and the Cee’d GT) isn’t fast or fun enough to be proper hot hatch. Neither is it comfortable enough to fulfill the ‘mini GT’ role the similar Peugeot 308 GT does so well. Perhaps we should be thinking of the Pro_Cee’d GT more as a rival to the Vauxhall Astra GTC, another car that looks great but isn’t all that interesting to drive.
Still, if you like the styling and the seven-year warranty, by all means buy one. But if you want to have fun, look elsewhere.
Kia Pro_Cee’d 1.6T GDi GT Tech
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual; front-wheel-drive
Power/Torque: 198bhp; 195lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 38.2mpg; 171g/km
0-62mph: 7.7 seconds
Top speed: 143mph
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By Only Motors