Bliss on the twists
Kia’s warm hatch adds flair to fun and leaves the power play to others
AUSTRALIA’S favourite sports car, the Toyota 86, has one major failing: there are only two seats. For those put off by its limited occupancy rates, there are just as competent cars with similar flair and handling, backed by a second set of seats for friends for a weekend drive.
One of these is the Kia Pro_cee’d GT three-door hatch (we’ll just call it the Proceed).
Like the 86, it is built to hustle through roundabouts and around back roads rather than to be an outright powerhouse.
Ford’s Fiesta ST at $25,990 looms large against the $29,990 starting price for the Kia. Both are sold only with manual gearboxes and both rely on turbo 1.6-litre four-cylinder engines to drive the front wheels.
The Kia earns extra points here for its coupe-style looks. As such it’s a crossover between the purist approach of an 86 and the squared-off hot-hatch practicality of the Ford.
Other rivals include the Hyundai Veloster, Renault Clio RS200 and Polo GTI.
The Proceed shapes up as the first overtly sporty car in the Kia line-up.
The engine is up to the job, cranking out 150kW/265Nm and a slick-shifting manual gearbox ensures the driver is always on the boost.
Official combined fuel use is 7.4L/100km or 9.7L/100km in city running. Carsguide was close to the latter, so sensible drivers should easily see just over 8.0L in daily driving.
The trick driver’s display toggles between views. Click for a circular speedo flanked by a tacho on the left and huge fuel gauge on the right; click again for a digital speed readout flanked by turbo boost and torque bars. The detail in that only serves to highlight the tired red-on-black look for the infotainment and clock/seat belt reminder high in the dash.
Chief designer Peter Schreyer was having a good day when he signed off on the GT. This is a sharp-looking car from any
angle, though the kinked roof pillars block some rear view.
The quad-pack of driving lights on the bottom corners gives the car a unique, purposeful look.
The interior can’t match the exterior looks. The plastics are a mix of mid-range utility and soft-touch on contact points. Bluetooth pairing is easy and, despite the dated display, the infotainment works well.
SAFETY Full marks here. The Kia scores 36.19/37 in the ANCAP crash test analysis to easily earn a five-star score. The front occupants and passenger’s leg were rated “acceptable” in the frontal offset crash test and that’s as bad as it got. The result puts the Proceed GT in the top ranks of small cars, only just behind the likes of Audi’s A3 and the Mazda3.
DRIVING The fundamentals are all there in the sporty Kia. A rorty turbo engine, well-sorted suspension and decent steering feel make this a sensational vehicle to explore tight, twisty roads. It snorts and snarls well past legal speeds but is a composed runner around town, where the light gearbox makes it easy to find a cog amid the traffic.
The front-end grip will embarrass limpets and encourages drivers to explore the surprisingly high dynamic limits of the car — this is a chassis in need of more mumbo.
The interior has a few sporty touches without straying from the conservative Kia norm.
There’s enough room to take rear passengers for short runs and the front Recaro seats, beyond reproach, are tilted back to keep the occupant locked in position without the distraction of sliding on the seat.
The steering wheel adjusts for height and reach, the gear lever falls easily to hand and the steering is light without being overly artificial.
Ultimately, though, this car is about the feel-good factor — on that basis the Kia is a winner.
VERDICT Get over the ridiculous name and the Kia warm hatch is a snake charmer, constantly on the lookout for curves.
The rear seat adds a degree of utility to an otherwise sporty design and makes it less selfindulgent than other pseudosports cars on the market.
Add some dash: Exterior styling is sharp but interior is mixed and infotainment is dated