Kia ProCeeds to take on hatchback rivals

DESIGNED to draw new customers to the Kia brand, it's hard to imagine the Pro_cee'd failing. It's well-built, aggressively priced, handsome and comes with probably the industry's best warranty arrangement (seven years or 100,000 miles).

The third model from the Cee'd platform after the Cee'd five-door hatch and the Cee'd SW estate, the three-door Pro_cee'd aims at a tougher market sector; those who want a family hatch that's stylish as well as practical. With rivals such as the Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch and the Citron C4 coup to contend with, it'll need to bring its A-game.

The three-door car comes to market with a big choice of powerplants. Choose petrol and there's a 104bhp 1.4-litre or a 124bhp 1.6-litre.

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This bigger engine needs a bit of right boot to access all of its available performance, with peak power arriving at a rather raucous 6,200rpm and peak torque of 154Nm not making itself felt until the tacho needle hits 4,200rpm.

Alternatively, there are gutsier diesel engines available, with a 1.6-litre CRDi available in either 89 or 113bhp guises and the 138bhp 2.0-litre CRDi version marking the top of the range.

Buyers get a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes. The mechanicals are shared with the Cee'd, which means steering that lacks a little of the polish of some of the very best contenders, although we're talking about tiny percentage differences.

The Pro_cee'd corners nicely, with well-suppressed lateral roll and, even when provoked, it refuses to do anything unexpected. The long wheelbase helps ride quality with only lumpy B-roads showing up any flaws.

Built in Slovenia under the auspices of the Frankfurt-based Kia Motors Europe design team, the Pro_cee'd features a longer and lower profile than the five-door car, resulting in an edgy, coup-like shape.

A sharply raised beltline and a sharp crease leading into the rear arches disguise the fact that it rides on the same chassis as the Cee'd and features the same windscreen angle. Other than that, only the bonnet and front wings are interchangeable parts.

Sit inside the Pro_cee'd and it feels on a par with the mainstream European models in terms of quality. Decent fabrics, doors that "thunk" shut and thoughtful approach to design make this a landmark Korean car. The rear seat now has a simpler cushion instead of the forward-folding split system in the Cee'd. The 60-40 split seat of the Pro_cee'd folds flat without having to remove the headrests.

Equipment levels are excellent, the entry-level car getting air-conditioning with cooled glovebox, 16-inch alloys, heated and electrically-adjustable door mirrors, remote central locking and an MP3-compatible CD stereo with USB and auxiliary inputs. Go for the pro_cee'd 3 and you'll get 17-inch rims, climate control, a sports pack and cloth/leather seats. The Sport weighs in with full leather, privacy glass. ESP stability control and electric folding mirrors amongst a welter of additional gear.

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The 1.6-litre petrol engine does reasonably well at the fuel pumps, returning an average of 44.1mpg. The continuously-variable valve timing helps efficiency and also means that the engine is good on emissions. At just 152g/km, the pro_cee'd is better than, say, a Peugeot 308 1.6 which emits 174g/km.

The uphill battle the pro_cee'd faces comes courtesy of its badge. Those in the market for a three-door sports hatch will have very clear ideas about style and image and many will still feel the Kia badge remains a drag on their street cred.

If you're a little less concerned about the opinions of the ill-informed, the Kia pro_cee'd makes a whole stack of good sense with the best buy looking top be the 1.6-litre petrol pro_cee'd 2. Whichever model you opt for, you'll have landed a screaming deal.


CAR: Kia pro_cee'd range

PRICE: 11,845-15,525 – on the road


EMISSIONS: 119-152g/km

PERFORMANCE: (1.6) 0-60mph 10.5s / Max Speed 119mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: (1.6) (combined) 44.1mpg

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