2014 Kia Ceed GT review

Korean brand Kia is targeting keen drivers with a 201bhp version of its five-door Ceed. We decide whether it's good enough to take on established hot hatch rivals from VW and Seat.

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The Kia Ceed GT is the five-door version of the Korean company's first hot hatchback. 

Actually, given how far hot hatches have come in the past two years, we should probably call it a warm effort instead of a scorching one, because Kia's offering has a 201bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a six-speed manual gearbox.

That's a modest amount of grunt compared with the likes of the current Golf GTI (217bhp) and Seat's Leon Cupra (261bhp), so the Ceed GT probably competes with the milder 1.8-litre Leon FR and Alfa Romeo's Giulietta 1.4 170 instead.

The Ceed GT certainly looks the part, building upon the regular car's styling with new front grilles and light clusters, distinctive square LED daytime running lights, twin exhaust pipes and red brake calipers.

What's the 2014 Kia Ceed GT like to drive?

Swift, without ever feeling properly rapid. The Ceed GT can hit 0-62mph in 7.4sec, which is perfectly respectable, and go on to a top speed of 143mph; there's certainly no problem maintaining a fast cruise, and the in-gear acceleration is good enough for straightforward overtaking on A- and B-roads.

The engine's not as willing as it sounds, though, because while there's enough shove there, you do need to rev it reasonably hard to extract the stronger performance; and when you do, the engine note becomes pretty harsh and thrashy.

Nor, it must be said, is the Ceed GT a particularly accomplished device on twistier roads. The steering feels pretty vague in regular Ceeds and it doesn't feel any more involving or precise in the GT. And while the car does stay reasonably flat in corners, it doesn't feel happy with sudden changes of direction; this is very much a Grand Tourer instead of being 'almost a GTI'.

The ride backs that up, because the Ceed's suspension is definitely softer than most hot hatchbacks'. It actually strikes a pretty good balance, because it's comfortable at low speeds around town, and still assured enough to not feel disconnected in the faster stuff.

If you're cruising along and not thrashing that engine to higher revs, refinement is pretty decent; you're more likely to be troubled by roar from the standard 18-inch wheels than wind or engine noise.

What's the 2014 Kia Ceed GT like inside?

The Ceed GT stands out from regular editions from the moment you get in it, because it comes with deep Recaro bucket seats as standard. They're supportive when you're cornering hard, but still wide enough to be comfortable on longer journeys.

You also get alloy pedals and a different gearknob from the standard editions; they do a good job of adding welcome flourishes to a fascia and cabin that's already pretty nicely finished.

Kia certainly piles on the standard kit; regular GT models get those 18in alloy wheels, cruise control, automatic headlights, reversing sensors, Bluetooth and an LCD screen in the middle of the instrument panel that can show different information, including torque levels and turbo pressure.

The more expensive trim level, GT Tech, adds touch-screen sat-nav, a reversing camera, heated front seats, keyless start, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control and xenon headlights; it's a fairly steep step up, though, at £2500 extra.

The rest of the Ceed interior is unchanged, so you get one of the larger cabins in the family hatchback class. There's plenty of room for four adults, and the boot capacity is impressive at 360 litres, with an extra 20 litres under the floor.

Visibility is fine out of the front, meanwhile, but even on this five-door edition, the thick rear pillars and slim rear glass mean that much of your over-the-shoulder view is blocked.

Should I buy one?

As a fast-but-practical five-door, the Ceed GT is not without appeal. It's easily as ready for family life as the Seat Leon (and much more so than the Alfa Giulietta), and has just about enough sporting intent and extra kit to justify the 'GT' badging. Judge it as a well-equipped rapid tourer instead of a genuine hot hatch and it looks a good-value proposition.

However, the Kia's big problem is that the 1.8-litre Seat Leon FR is faster and more enjoyable to drive, and it'll cost less to run, thanks to better resale values and more impressive fuel economy. True, the Seat has a higher list price, but when you factor in discounts it really shouldn't cost you a penny more to buy either.

That means that while the Ceed GT is an attractive option, it's a left-field one at best.

What Car? says



Rivals:

Seat Leon 1.8 TSI 180 FR 5dr

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 MultiAir 170

Kia Ceed GT

Engine size

1.6-litre turbocharged petrol

Price from

£20,500

Power

201bhp

Torque

195lb ft

0-62mph

7.7 seconds

Top speed

143mph

Fuel economy

38.2mpg

CO2

171g/km

 
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