Warm reception for the Proceed GT

 
Ryan Borroff
The new model is as good looking and fun as its predecessor but also delivers on its performance promise

So then, how hot is it?,” said my driving partner as we stopped for a coffee up in the Alpes Maritimes mountains, just north of Nice. It was 26 degrees, but he wasn’t asking about the weather. He was asking about the latest Kia Proceed GT three-door coupe, the car we had just climbed out of.

Officially, the car is being marketed as a “warm hatch” rather than a hot one, so it’s not meant to be compared to cars like the VW Golf GTI or Ford Focus ST. I don’t think the relative temperature of any consumer product has been scrutinised this closely since the pasty tax. Somehow warm doesn’t quite do it justice.

It is clear Kia has spent a great deal of effort retuning its regular Proceed model into a decent sports coupe. The previous model was one of the best looking cars on the market, but reviews were mixed due to its mediocre performance.

The Proceed GT – the first high-performance model the Korean manufacturer has ever made – definitely makes up for it.

While it has long been able to build cars with the comfort and refinement of its European competitors, Kia needed to raise its game when it came to handling. After all, it doesn’t want to just be the sensible option for frugal drivers. There’s a lot riding on this car because it represents where the brand is heading.

So has Kia managed to inject enough excitement into its latest top of the range Ceed model? It certainly looks impressive, and it turned plenty of heads as I drove it through the mountains. More muscular than the regular model, the front has an aggressive bumper and a red pin stripe plus side skirts and a pair of dual exhausts at the back.

It is available in two options – “GT” and “GT Tech” – I drove the entry GT model. Powered by an advanced version of Kia’s 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which develops 201bhp, it can reach 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 143mph.

Through narrow mountain roads the Proceed GT is surprisingly good. Kia has worked hard to improve the handling of the regular Proceed. The steering has been reworked so that the regular Flexsteer steering – which allows drivers to choose the level of power assistance in regular versions of the Proceed – is gone. A good thing, because you feel more connected in this version. The car also has larger brakes, better suspension, stiffer springs and a fatter anti-roll bar at the rear. This means that dynamically there’s little body roll and the car handles well and feels powerful. As long as you keep the engine spinning high enough there’s no lag when you press on the accelerator pedal. Thanks to its turbocharging, power kicks in from 1,750rpm to 4,500rpm. The drama is enhanced by blue and red digital bars either side of the speedometer, which show the engine torque and turbo boost pressure (rather like the red turbo boost display in the KITT Nightrider car from the 80s TV show). Cheesy? Perhaps, but fun too.

The cabin is swanky with Recaro seats, red-trimmed GT accents, soft touch plastics and aluminium pedals. The driving position is very comfortable but the car’s coupe shape makes it tricky to look over your left shoulder to see out.

As a complete package, the Proceed GT is a good-looking and comfortable everyday car with plenty of spirit to get the blood pumping. And at that price, who can resist?

THE FACTS:
KIA PROCEED GT

PRICE: £19,995
0-62MPH: 7.4 secs
TOP SPEED: 143mph
CO2 G/KM: 171g/km
MPG COMBINED: 38.2mpg

THE VERDICT:

DESIGN Four stars
PERFORMANCE Four stars
PRACTICALITY Three stars
VALUE FOR MONEY Four stars