In the mix

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kentmotors -

Kia’s hot hatch is a bril­liant first ef­fort as Paul Acres dis­cov­ers the cor­ners of the front bumper, nor the twin sets of re­vers­ing lights slashed into the rear. I would have pre­ferred a much sim­pler ar­range­ment but, over­all, I think Kia’s de­sign­ers have done an ex­cel­lent job of cre­at­ing a car that, while strik­ingly in­di­vid­ual, also ful­fils the brief for what a hot hatch should look like.

Climb in­side and it’s clear that Kia have been work­ing hard on the qual­ity of the ma­te­ri­als as well as the fit and fin­ish. There are some hard plas­tics but they’re mostly re­served for ar­eas that you’ll rarely come into con­tact with, oth­er­wise there’s lots of soft fab­rics, leather and shiny bits to please the eye and the fin­ger­tips.

The Re­caro seats are snug, sup­port­ive and very dif­fi­cult to climb into or out of while preserving your dig­nity un­less, I imag­ine, you’re a lot spright­lier than I am. Once you’re firmly en­sconced the driv­ing po­si­tion is ex­cel­lent.

There’s lots of kit, too, par­tic­u­larly in the GT Tech ver­sion that I drove. A large TFT dis­play dom­i­nates the in­stru­ment bin­na­cle. It can ei­ther be used as a stan­dard speedome­ter or, with a press of the GT but­ton on the steer­ing wheel, dis­play per­for­mance data such as turbo boost and torque. Ei­ther side is an ana­logue rev counter and fuel gauge.

The cen­tre con­sole houses a seven-inch touch­screen for the sat nav and au­dio con­trols. Pair­ing my phone us­ing Blue­tooth for hands­free call­ing and mu­sic play­back was a straight­for­ward and in­u­tu­itive process al­though, dis­ap­point­ingly, the au­dio play­back lacked a lit­tle depth and rich­ness.

Dual zone air con and heated seats make for a very cosy driv­ing en­vi­ron­ment, par­tic­u­larly at this time of the year, and there are lots of steer­ing-wheel mounted con­trols for au­dio, hands­free and cruise con­trol. Per­haps too many.

I’m go­ing to put my fussy hat on again be­cause there’s a small, and in my opin­ion, un-

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