2013 Kia Proceed GT

* Kias first hot hatch driven * 201bhp and 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds * Priced from 19,995...

2013 Kia Proceed GT review

The Kia Proceed GT is the Korean brand's first hot hatch.

Powered by a turbocharged petrol engine (another first for Kia), the GT features lower and stiffer suspension than the regular Proceed, along with bigger brakes and retuned steering.

Prices start at less than 20k, so it looks like a bargain, massively undercutting hot hatches such as the Ford Focus ST and VW Golf GTI.

However, with significantly less power than both of those cars, the Proceed GT is arguably a closer rival to less focused fast hatchbacks such as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 170 Multiair and Seat Leon SC 1.8 TSI FR.

Whats the 2013 Kia Proceed GT like to drive?
Kia's new 1.6-litre turbo engine develops 201bhp, so although the GT's 0-60mph time of 7.4 seconds won't trouble the record books, this is still a pretty quick car that pulls strongly until around 6000rpm.

It's just a shame the engine doesn't sound better. There's a meaty growl when you put your foot down at low revs, but the noise changes to a harsh and thrashy drone as the revs rise.

Handling is also disappointing; the GT simply doesn't feel different enough from the regular Proceed. True, there's a bit less body sway through fast corners and the front tyres have more bite (they're Michelins rather than the usual Hankooks), but this isn't a car that feels especially agile or focused.

The steering is just as vague and numb as it is in the standard car, too, and although the gear ratios are closely spaced making it easy to keep the engine in its sweet spot the shift itself is vague and imprecise.

Given that Kia has opted for a fairly soft suspension set-up, it's no surprise that the Proceed GT rides smoothly. It takes the sting out of bumps at low speeds, without becoming floaty on faster, undulating roads.

Running costs are less impressive, because while the GT's average fuel economy of 38.2mpg is far from horrendous, it's significantly worse than rivals', including the Seat Leon FR and VW Golf GTI.

As with other versions of the Proceed, the GT generates a fair amount of road noise at speed, but is otherwise a hushed motorway cruiser.

What's the 2013 Kia Proceed GT like inside?
There's better news inside, because the GT has the same classy cabin as lesser Proceed models.

That means the dashboard is made mostly from soft-touch plastics, the layout is easy to understand and there's a good range of adjustment to help the driver get comfortable.

The biggest improvement over the regular Proceed is the addition of part-leather Recaro sports seats. These provide plenty of side support during hard cornering, yet remain comfortable on longer journeys.

Over-the-shoulder vision is less impressive; the thick rear pillars and the upsweep of the rear side windows block much of your view out.

More positively, there's enough space for a couple of six-footers in the back, and as in the five-door Ceed, there's a well-shaped boot that can swallow a sizeable 360 litres of luggage. There's an extra 20 litres of storage space under the boot floor.

Even the basic GT model gets plenty of standard luxuries, including 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, automatic headlights, reversing sensors, Bluetooth and an LCD instrument binnacle.

The GT Tech costs a further 2500 and adds touch-screen sat-nav, a reversing camera, heated front seats, keyless start, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control and xenon headlights.

Both versions come with Kia's seven-year warranty, while a three-year servicing package is available for a fixed price of 399.

Should I buy one?
Anyone expecting a cut-price Golf GTI will be disappointed. The Proceed GT might look like a hot hatch, but it doesn't drive like one, so if you're after barnstorming pace and engaging handling we'd suggest you go for the cheaper and smaller Ford Fiesta ST or the faster and pricier Focus ST.

However, viewed as a rival to less focused warm hatchbacks such as the Seat Leon 1.8 FR the Kia Proceed GT has more going for it. It's quicker, more comfortable and still 300 cheaper to buy, even though it doesn't handle as tidily as the Seat and will cost you more to run.

What Car? says...

Ford Focus ST
Seat Leon 1.8 TSI 180 FR 3dr

Engine size 1.6-litre turbo petrol
Price from 19,995
Power 201bhp
Torque 195lb ft
0-62mph 7.4 seconds
Top speed 143mph
Fuel economy 38.2mpg
CO2 emissions 171g/km

By Will Nightingale and Euan Doig