► Mixes GT hot hatch looks with lukewarm power
► Still, 1.0-litre turbo triple produces keen 118bhp
► Fully loaded, with seven-year warranty – but £20k
If I say ‘Kia’, you say…? Budget but worthy? Worthy but dull? Korea’s second place car firm – though actually the badge is older than Hyundai’s, the pecking order between these stablemates is clear – builds the sort of cars that you would happily recommend to a relative on the basis of good value and the seven-year warranty, but probably wouldn’t look to for style and a sense of fun.
Cars like this Kia Proceed GT-Line are hoping to change this perspective, with chunky body styling and a pokey new 1.0-litre ‘Ecoturbo’ engine, in this instance cranked up to 118bhp.
Decode this for me: what is a Kia Proceed 1.0 T-GDi GT-Line?
The Ceed (technically spelled cee’d, but come on, that’s like putting an exclamation mark after the name of a city car… and obviously no grown up car manufacturer is going to do that), has been around for a few years now as Kia’s answer to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus – while the Proceed (technically pro_cee’d – but seriously, an underscore? Who’d use that in a name for anything?) is the three-door version. The underlying platform is shared with the Hyundai i30.
As per precedent set by the likes of Renault and Vauxhall, the three-door gets a distinctive shape, separating it from the dowdy practicality of the five-door and sending it down the chute marked ‘definitely sporty, oh yes, definitely – no family life for me’. GT-Line aims to make this a little more obvious, bringing some of the showbiz shine down from the range-topping Ceed GT, which is a sort of sub-GTi warm hatch with 198bhp.
The 1.0 T-GDi is the engine designation – the T giving away the Turbo, the GDi standing for gasoline direct injection, good news (in theory) for fuel consumption and response. As per most 1.0-litre tiddlers, this is a three-cylinder engine, and sounds it just as soon as you give the pedal on the right any serious attention. It’s not intrusive at a cruise, however, so this isn’t particularly problematic.
Is it any good?
With the big bumpers, deep side skirts, Kia’s trademark ‘ice-cube’ LED daytime running lights and 17-inch alloys, it’s easy enough to get visually fooled into thinking this is a properly hot little number – score one for the designers.
On the inside it’s all dark glossiness, fancy-looking seats, silver stitching and easily interpreted secondary controls; quality feels tough in a pleasant kind of way, and easily comparable to Ford. There’s even a little extension on the seat belt feeder on the B-pillar, to save you having to reach back too far.
To get the most out of the tiny engine it’s best to have your mechanical sympathy removed prior to departure. But as long as you don’t mind listening to what sounds like an over-worked sewing machine begging for mercy, the Proceed is more than willing to carry a decent turn of speed. The suspension is impressively well-judged for British surfaces, proving compliant enough to absorb the unpredictable ridges and compressions of Cambridgeshire’s b-roads without going totally perpendicular in the corners.
There’s not a great deal of feedback through the steering – regardless of which of the three available assistance settings you select from the novel dedicated button on the steering wheel – but with a modest 126lb ft there’s little to trouble the front axle’s ability to find traction. Similarly, while it’s hardly got the sharpest front end, the chassis feels balanced and friendly when pushed, and grip is keenly tenacious if someway short of the full Spiderman.
What are its weak points?
Well, the seating position is a little high, which leaves you feeling like you’re falling towards the dashboard at first, and there’s not a huge amount of adjustment in the steering wheel – so you may find your ideal driving position isn’t quite achievable.
The driving experience would be significantly improved if the gearshift action wasn’t so rubbery. It’s almost impossible to execute fast, smooth changes when it feels like you’re dealing with a rolled up Wellington boot jammed into a grating.
It’s also hard to be entirely positive about the price. While it comes in at (just) under £20k, and features a list of desirable standard kit including DAB, sat-nav, Bluetooth and reversing camera, you can buy a petrol Golf or Focus with 123bhp for slightly less. But then, neither mainstream rival is anywhere near as well equipped; and if you want a similarly pseudo-sporty Focus ST Line, the Kia is £750 cheaper. A GT Edition Golf starts at over £24k – albeit it with a 148bhp engine.
Likeably enthusiastic, reasonably charismatic, and packed with kit. No-one’s going to question your choice after you’ve explained this, but you probably are going to have to explain it. As a step towards broadening the brand’s appeal and perception it’s definitely one in the right direction.
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