TEST DRIVE: Kia pro-cee’d

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Steve Sharpe tests Kia’s pro_cee’d

The new version of the annoyingly punctuated pro_cee’d, the three-door version of Kia’s cee’d hatchback, made its first appearance at last year’s Paris Motor Show.

Kia pro_cee'd

Kia pro_cee'd

It’s the same length, width and wheelbase as the five-door cee’d, but there are differences which result in a sleeker, sportier looking hatchback.

It’s 40mm lower and the B-pillar has been moved back by 220mm. The side doors are longer than those at the front of the five-door cee’d, allowing easy access to the rear seats while the pro_cee’d’s profile is made sleeker by a rising beltline and low roofline.

The front end is new, giving the car a more aggressive appearance, accentuated by the striking standard-fit LED daytime running lights.

Many parts of the three-door are unique to the pro_cee’d, including the roof, side windows, tailgate, rear light clusters and rear bumper, so it’s not just a few fancy switches and add-ons.

Kia’s acclaimed designer Peter Schreyer, who made his name at Audi, calls it a “clean-sheet design”.

It comes together for a genuinely striking car, with a sporty profile, dramatic nose end and a smart rear. The days of dull-looking Kias are long gone.

Inside the cabin, like all the other cars in the Kia stable, huge strides have been made in build quality and design.

It’s well-designed, well put-together and functional, which is all you could ask for in a car.

The overall colour scheme is very dark, but there are attractive areas of glossy black plastic to provide highlights.

The switches and knobs are solid, comfortable to use and sensibly laid out, the media screen is a decent size and the controls on the steering wheel are easy to operate from first drive.

Things are generally similar to the five-door version, but visibility is affected somewhat by the thicker rear pillars, so reversing requires a little more neck-stretching .

But in other areas practicality has been improved over the previous pro_cee’d – there are storage compartments in the front, rear and centre console and an enlarged boot.

With the rear seats upright there’s extra luggage capacity while with the seats split for more space.

Headroom and legroom is not going to be a problem for most in the pro_cee’d, with plenty for front-seat occupants and a good amount in the rear too. A middle passenger can be accommodated in the back as well, which could prove to be useful.

The longer, and wider- opening doors, make access to the rear seats relatively easy, and a memory setting for the driver’s seat ensures you don’t have to constantly adjust your seating position after allowing someone to clamber in on your side.

This new model is powered by 1.6-litre direct-injection engines – one petrol and one diesel.

I drove one of the diesel variants and while those searching for a hotter hatch would probably be better off with the GT version which is out this year, this version’s performance figures of 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds don’t do the little hatchback justice.

While it doesn’t possess the out-and-out power of a hot hatch – and indeed what you might expect from such a sporty looking car – the power is well spread out.

It’s quick off the mark and will accelerate steadily, with good pull in mid range, and responds throughout the gears to an extra demand for overtaking power.

The gearbox is slick and it’s well spaced, too, so you’re unlikely to be left floundering.

Driven hard it offers a satisfying drive, driven normally there won’t be any complaints from gran in the back.

The ride is a good compromise for comfort and control.

It absorbs most bumps and potholes easily, only feeling jittery on continuous stretches of rough ground, and although there’s a degree of body roll when cornering, it’s never too annoying.

There’s good grip and the steering is well weighted and sharp – it’s not going to fly around corners at breakneck speed, but neither are you going to leave passengers’ faces flat against the windows.

Perhaps its biggest fault is the amount of noise coming through.

I drove the diesel in the SE trim, the higher of the two trim levels, which features bigger wheels.

It resulted in a lot of road noise coming through, and even though the engine noise and wind intrusion isn’t too harsh, when put together the noise soon increases.

But the little Kia is a fine all-round performer.

It’s small stature makes whizzing around town easy, and its tight turning circle and precise steering make tricky parking a minor problem.

Although visibility is affected by the sporty, coupe shape it never causes too much consternation, and there are parking sensors available to fill in the gaps.

There’s also a rear camera as standard on the SE model.

Long-distance cruising offers no hardship, either.

Looking at the specs makes a good case for this three-door Kia.

It’s priced well, ranging from £17,500 to £20,595, and figures of mid-60s mpg for the SE diesel make good economic sense. Low emission figures mean no road tax for the first year, and £30 afterwards.

And the S model has combined fuel economy of 74.3mpg with CO2 emissions of only 100g/km, making it exempt from road tax.

Kia have ensured you’re going to get value for money as well.

Standard equipment include cornering lights, air con, cruise control, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and heated electric door mirrors. There is also a Stop-Start system as standard, six airbags and an alarm and immobiliser system.

The six-speaker audio system has iPod and USB connectivity along with the capability for music to be streamed from mobiles via Bluetooth.

Similarly, there’s a hands-free Bluetooth phone system with voice recognition.

SE models get various extra bits of kit, including bigger wheels, a touch-screen sat-nav system with European maps and a reversing camera.

Further additions include dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers, keyless entry and start, and electric lumbar support adjustment for the front.

And the new pro_cee’d, like every Kia, comes with a seven-year, 100,000-mile transferable warranty.

The sporty good looks, impressive cabin build-quality and frugal running costs, allied with good levels of performance, handling and space, make this new version of the pro_cee’d an attractive package.

Fact file

Kia pro_cee’d

Engine: 1.6litre diesel.

Transmission: Six-speed manual.

0-62: 10.5 seconds

Top Speed: 122mph.

Economy: 65.7mpg

Price: £20,595.