Kia Pro_cee'd (2013 - 2018)

reviewed by Richard Blackburn on 8 August 2019
reviewed by Richard Blackburn on 15 April 2019
reviewed by pwheel66 on 1 July 2016


reviewed by Anonymous on 19 April 2016
Overall rating
How it drives
Fuel economy
Tax/Insurance/Warranty costs
Cost of maintenance and repairs
Experience at the dealership
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underrated and surprising


I’ve read multiple, mixed reviews about this car, the most positive on Fifth Gear, S23/E11, but I fear in this case, they went in with very low expectations, stereotyping the car by its seemingly low budget brand, and being pleasantly surprised by the finished product. Yet one the of the worst, by a man who’s opinion I value most on matters of this kind, Jeremy Clarkson, could not let go of the badge this car adorns, and gave the motor an unfair shout. For this car, I urge you to forget this car is a KIA because the stigma of old is long, long gone.
I used to be one of many who for years, mocked anyone who drove anything from Korea. But as of late, the models across the entire range have become funky and al-together desirable. I now find myself defending “the mighty GT” and even go so far as to brag about it!
Faced with the bewildering choice of hot hatches out there, I considered a Focus RS, a Focus/Fiesta ST-3, a Toyota GT-86, a Megane RS265 and an Astra GTC. This is why I chose the KIA PRO_CEE’D GT and wouldn’t look back!

First impressions
My thoughts are the same as everyone I tell about this car... a KIA!? The usual USPs of the 7 year warranty and the increasing reliability, all very good, but equally boring. This plucky little upstart brand is, in my opinion, the new SKODA, and thanks in part to the only good thing to come out of the last Labour government, the scrappage scheme has only seen to benefit KIA with a massive boost to units now on UK roads.
Now to the car in question, this sports-oriented variant of the already well poised PRO_CEE’D is quite the looker. It is my firm belief that no hatch currently on sale today has the road presence or attention grabbing design as the GT. The colour I went for was white, a £500 extra that demands a second look, and deserves its head turning appeal. The other choices are red, which does the car no justice at all, or black, which, when I saw parked at the side of my new GT on delivery, looked the part, but when cleaned and polished, still not a patch on the white. Best £500 spent ever!

First drive
I first drove a used GT, 6 months old, 7k miles when I was looking to part-ex a 5 year old Focus ST-3, and boy was I disappointed. Everything about the car excited me up to this point. The looks, the image, the famous unique underdog-ness about it, then I got behind the wheel. With a far from experienced salesman urging me to plant my right foot, I was desperately trying to find the button to disengage the traction control. Once I found it I gunned it, expecting a similar sledgehammer to the back as what I had been used to in the trusty Focus. Instead, I was met with a slow, sluggish, reluctant engine with the only smile and satisfaction coming when I had a slight downhill gradient. I was sure that 25 bhp couldn’t make THAT much difference, right? Almost deterred by the apparent lack of grunt, I still decided the quirky KIA was worth the trade and boy, am I glad!

On the inside
Pure quality! To list but a few highlights, the heated half leather Recaro’s are a pleasure to sit in. Very comfortable and well placed, they are firm yet supple. They have electric operated lumbar support and though some reports claim they sit too high in the cockpit, my 5’4” frame sinks nicely into them. They offer very good support when cornering hard, but don’t give you any back ache or make you tired on long journeys. The next thing you notice is the exquisite attention to detail. Every surface you touch feels of premium quality. The gloss piano black plastics, the leather seats, wheel, gearstick, and door panels, are all embroiled with red stitching. This is repeated in the often forgot rear section of the car. Also to mention, the chrome finish on the door handles, gear lever, the stainless steel kick plates and the brushed aluminium pedals. This all feels solid and very well put together. The overall build quality is second to none! Every button, every switch is well thought out, the feel of each control, from the wheel mounted controls, to the touch screen media centre, could easily rival that of any VW group model. The driving position is perfect, dead centre with everything you need in reach. The wheel is well sized and thin, and the gearstick is within easy reach for short snappy changes. The roof lining is dark to give it that extra sporty touch. Bad points are the lever below the ball-like gearstick to activate reverse, this feels like it gets in the way of a proper grip around the gearstick, and also visibility. The coupe looks have made the forward pillars intrusive and rear and blind-spot visibility is very poor, a small price to pay for those smouldering looks though.

Power and performance
current reviews have got this car all wrong. Its in the same size class as the Focus, Golf, Megane, Astra, and so on, but is more similar in power stats to the class below, such as the Fiesta, Corsa, Clio, 208. What you need to remember is that this car was released in 2013, so during the whole testing and production process (on the Nurburgring no less!), they had the previous generation of each of the above models to aim for. With this significant performance deficit in mind, the KIA GT is far from off the pace of its rivals. It gets its powerplant from the Hyundai Veloster Turbo. A 1.6L inline 4 with a twin scroll turbo, producing 201 bhp. Added to a weight of only 1359kg, the GT manages 150bhp/tonne. Almost identical to the 2.5T 5cyl ST I had before it. So why didn’t it feel as quick during the test drive? As I eventually found out, its an engine that likes to rev. The car is at its best when worked hard, if you make the most of the gears, and keep it within its turbo boost, the GT is very rewarding and far from slow. I have now done 3500 miles in mine, and I can say, with a massive grin on my face, that once the engine is up to temperature, performance is more than comparable to the last-gen hot hatches and could easily keep pace with the cars it was designed to compete with. Without a shadow of a doubt, the last Focus ST, the Golf GTI, the Megane RS225, none of these would lose sight of the GT on the road, or track. Up to 3500rpm the engine sounds grunty, and mean. The exhaust note is a low grumble to add to the pleasurable noise. Above this, however, and it resembles the usual scream of a high revving 4 cyl. That is a shame, because once you hit 4500rpm, you feel something I never got chance to experience with a salesman sat at my side during the test drive... the long thought lost kick in the back from that turbo. And oh my does it kick! With the engine sufficiently worn in and heated up, no questions lingered about whether I had made the right choice sacrificing the ST for the KIA. It is just as fast as the Ford, or any other 2012 hatch for that matter. It could still outpace a brand new Golf GTI. The torque kicks in around 2000rpm and has a broad range. The gears are long enough to be lazy with motorway overtaking in 6th, and even accelerating uphill in top gear without struggle. Kept in the powerband though, and the little 1.6T will play with the best boasting a larger 2.0T unit. It encourages aggressive driving but is equally at home cruising along at normal speeds. The 6 speed box has short throws that have a positive change and mechanical bolt-action feel.

The steering, a tweaked version of the rack found in the regular PRO_CEE’D does without the varying modes. It is light enough to be used around town but has enough weight to inspire confidence in the bends. It turns in exactly where you want it, and has minimal understeer, only drifting wide when exposed to ridiculous entry speeds, you can tighten the line by easing off with the right foot though, and unintended oversteer never rears its ugly head. The 225 Michelin Pilot tyres do an excellent job of keeping the car planted to the road. The chassis is well sought and inspires confidence to push it harder and faster round every bend. The brakes are uprated from the standard model and the suspension is bespoke, providing independent multi-link at the front and rear – only the Focus ST and Golf GTI can claim that! This provides an excellent platform to go for an enthusiastic ride. The brakes have plenty of stop in them, but like the engine, have to be worked, some say they lack feel, but would be better described as progressive. Nothing about the GT is sharp, but rather leisurely yet effective. The handling all in all is predictable, and very easy to drive on the limit. You can enter a corner at insane speeds, turn in and brake mid-corner and still not unsettle the back end. It feels very poised, very balanced, and in all honesty, and I cant believe Im saying this, it handles better than the Focus ST! To say this car is front wheel drive and has no limited slip diff, it certainly does cling on to the apex. The suspension is stiff enough to eliminate body roll, but subtle enough so that its as comfortable around the pot hole ridden roads as any other medium sized hatch. The traction control can be fully turned off, but along with the ABS, is completely unobtrusive when on, the car is so well sought and balanced that they are rarely needed.

Wow! Just look at it, the red pin stripe line below the front radiator, that ‘tiger nose’ grill, the rear diffuser, the red stitching in the leather, the wide wheel arches, sills, and spoiler, someone at KIA knows how to design a sports car! The car sits on 18” anthracite 45 profile wheels with red callipers. It has twin chrome exhausts and distinct GT badges front and rear, to let you know this isn’t any ordinary CEE’D. Its stance is low and imposing and turns more heads than any other car Iv owned. Its exclusive too as not too many people are going to choose the GT over its rivals, even though they should, so you wont see too many about, making it all the more special when you do.

Living with it everyday
Apart from the aforementioned poor rear visibility, the GT is a joy to drive every day. From long motorway drives, to cities, to blasts along winding B roads, the GT is a fine car that accomplishes the rare feat of feeling at home anywhere it goes. It has relatively low running costs, compared with that at least of its thoroughbred counterparts. Ranging from 27mpg when thrashed, to 43mpg when cruising, fuel costs should remain affordable, if not low. Insurance and tax are low too, and parts shouldn’t be expensive if anything does go wrong. It is easy to park despite its poor visibility and has excellent boot space. The cabin fits 5 adults comfortably and the sloping roofline doesn’t compromise rear headroom. Leg room is also ample.

I went for the GT TECH, a £2500 extra that provides keyless entry and push button start, heated steering wheel, a 7” touchscreen satnav, reverse camera, automatic dual zone climate control, automatic bi-zenon headlights and rain-sensing wipers with de-icing blades. On top of that, the standard kit includes headlight washers, USB/AUX/Bluetooth compatibility, half leather/half suede heated Recaro seats, cruise control, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, reversing sensors, and a funky button on the wheel labelled ‘GT’. This button turns the LCD digital display from its analogue speedo to a digital one with turbo boost and torque meters on, nice touch KIA.

Value for money
Put simply, this car, in GT spec, the white metallic paint, and the optional diamond brite paint protection was a little under £24,000. Now yes, you can buy a Focus ST-2 for a smidge more than that, but, and I have tried this, if you spec an ST-3, a GTI, a VXR, or an RS275 up to this level of kit, you will be paying close to £29,000 at least! And non of them come with a 7 year warranty. Suddenly the KIA doesn’t look so bad ey?

Final verdict
Yes, the KIA is in a state of limbo, falling between cars in its size class and the one below, both in power and price, but so is the LEON FR, MEGANE 220 GT, ASTRA GTC, and SCIROCCO TSI, but apparently there is a market for warm hatch GTs, so with far superior levels of kit, and enough power to keep you entertained, the KIA proposes a very attractive offer. Arguably the best looking hatch on sale right now, plus KIAs reputation of late for build quality and the amount of car you get for your money, the KIA PRO_CEE’D GT TECH is quite simply the best car I have ever owned, and I look forward to seeing the next incarnation of this model. It is worth noting that there are only 2 things I would change about this car, I would have full leather seats and increase the displacement to a 2.0T with more power, just to see off the current gen STs out there!

201 BHP
265 NM
Written by Scott Yules
25 years old, Leeds, England
Car bought new in September 2015

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About this car

Road TaxA–H
MPG38.2–74.3 mpg
Real MPG76.0%

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