Sue Baker drives the new 3-door version of the cee’d hatchback, the pro_cee’d. Despite its daft name, it builds on the ability of both the hatchback and SW estate
You have to hand it to Kia – they’re a brave lot. Not content with giving their newest model the world’s silliest car name, they chose to launch it in Istanbul of all places. What a hostage to fortune that would have been, if the car had failed to live up to expectation. Then it would never have lived down being given a debut in Turkey. No problem there, though, because the pro_cee’d is by no means a disappointment. It is a cracking little car with crisp driving manners that match its sharp suit of clothes.
But why on earth did they saddle it with a name that includes both an apostrophe and an emailstyle underscore, as well as a lower-case first letter (if you stick strictly to Kia’s official version)? It is an affectation that the pro_cee’d really doesn’t need, because it richly deserves to be judged on its own merit, not by its strangulated hic-cough of a name.
This is the sporty ‘halo’ model that now adds a dash of glamour to Kia’s cee’d range of cars, which already comprises the five-door hatchback and cee’d SW estate car. Often a sporty threedoor hatch is brought in to burnish an existing car range, complete with a loaded spec and a premium price. Kia certainly haven’t employed any such strategies with this model, which they expect will soon account for one in five of total cee’d range sales.
It is priced identically, model for model, with the five-door hatchback, apart from there being no base trim model (level 1 in the cee’d five-door) in the pro_cee’d line-up. Instead, there are three levels of trim: starting with the 2, then the 3 and Sport. The rest of the cee’d range will adopt the same revised line-up very soon. The range of engines includes three diesel options: a wellproven 1.6 litre in a choice of two power outputs (89 and 113bhp), both teamed with a five-speed manual gearbox, or a new two-litre pushing out 138bhp and matched with a six-speed manual. If you are in the market for a cee’d size of car, you’re certainly spoiled for choice. Kia’s new kid on the block is up against the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf, Renault Megane, Peugeot 308, Honda Civic and Citroen C4, to name but a few of its rivals in this congested corner of the car market. Among the offerings from the other manufacturers, three-door models tend to predominantly have petrol engines, and 1.6 litres is the most popular size. But Kia’s trio of common rail, chain-cam diesels on offer in the pro_cee’d may shift the balance a little, especially as it has introduced a two-litre diesel to the range for the first time.
You might expect the cee’d three-door sibling to be largely similar to the five-door, but the pro_cee’d body design is a bit more bespoke than that. Perhaps surprisingly, it has only the bonnet and front wings in common with the five-door model. The rest of the body panels are different, and it does give the car its own strong identity. It is slightly longer (by 15mm), a bit lower (30mm), and certainly sportier-looking than the five-door. The styling is cleaner and more focused.
Although Kia is a South Korean company, all its cee’d range are built in eastern Europe, at a factory in Zilina, Slovakia. Like the others, the pro_cee’d appears to be built to a pleasingly high standard. It also comes with the same seven year, 100,000-miles warranty that is an important selling point of these latest Kias. That’s more than double the length of a typical new car warranty, usually three years and 60,000 miles, and it underlines the faith Kia has in its quality standards. It’s a heck of a peace-of-mind bonus, that will doubtless woo some buyers who might otherwise opt for a more mainstream rival. So what’s the pro_cee’d like to drive? Naturally, we were keen to sample the new two-litre, and that was the one I spent most time in at the launch. It is a punchy performer, with a fair level of refinement, and I liked it well enough trundling through Istanbul’s chaotic road network and interminable traffic jams that make London’s congestion seem like a pale imitation.
A day-long route, away from Istanbul to Turkey’s Asian coast and back, on fast and generally wellsurfaced roads was an effortless enough sprint in the two-litre, despite some very iffy cambers and a liberal coating of dried mud, shed by endless convoys of lorries. But keeping the pedal to the metal on the faster sections revealed some harsher edges.
A shorter run, late afternoon, in a pro_cee’d with the higher-output 1.6 diesel confirmed what a perky and robust engine that one is, and on balance it felt the better one to go for. It feels sweeter, with adequate torque (188lb ft to the two-litre’s 225) and sufficient power to row along a compact three-door hatchback, but without the bigger engine’s slightly coarser character. The steering is nicely engineered, with power assistance light enough to zip the car efficiently through Istanbul’s labyrinthine city streets, but with enough bite not to feel floaty or nervous. Thank goodness for meaty brakes. Turkish driving behaviour is pretty anarchic, and you need quick reactions as well as decent braking power to survive a rush-hour trip across the city, bodywork unscathed. Frayed nerves are an inevitable by-product of driving in Istanbul. It’s fun, but decidedly fraught.
Just as well that the pro_cee’d has a comfortable environment within, with a good driving position, aided by the standard provision of a heightadjustable driver’s seat. Three-door cars can be irritating if access to the back seat is poor. It isn’t too bad in the pro_cee’d, and rear headroom is good for a relatively compact car with no rear doors. You’d have to be taller than a six-footer to start feeling cramped.
The boot isn’t huge, but pretty reasonable for the car’s size with 340 litres of luggage room. It’s a practical shape, and the boot lip is low enough not to be in the way for loading.
Standard kit on the car includes air-con, cooling piped through to the glovebox, a six-speaker RDS radio and CD player with MP 3 and iPod compatibility. With level 3 trim, you are upgraded to climate control and cruise control. The top-spec Sport model comes with leather trim, privacy glass, electric folding mirrors and follow-mehome headlamps.
The three-door Kia is a fun drive. It doesn’t quite have the poise of a new Focus – still the benchmark model – but it does have a better warranty, the best one in the business. Ultimate driving pleasure, or optimum peace-of-mind? The choice is yours. Kia has come such a long way since its first foray onto the motoring scene with the cheap and cheerful Pride. Now there are plenty of good reasons to consider buying one, and not just price. The cee’d range, particularly this snappily styled three-door hatchback, brings Kia bang up to date, and the seven-year, 100,000-miles warranty is a big attraction.
On sale: now // Price from: £15,495 //
Main rivals: Ford Focus 2.0i TDCi Zetec 3dr, Vauxhall Astra 1.9 CDTi 16v Design 3dr, Volkswagen Golf GT Sport 2.0 TDI 3dr.
- Price: £15,495
- Engine: 1991cc, 4-cyl, 16 valves, common rail turbodiesel
- Max Power: 138bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 225lb ft at 1,800 – 2,500rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,500kg
- Combined Consumption: 50.4mpg
- CO 2 Emissions (taxband): 149g/km (C)
- 0-62mph: 10.1secs
- Max speed: 127mph
ABS with EBD
Six-speed manual gearbox
Electric folding mirrors
Climate controlled air conditioning
Speed sensing auto door locking
RDS radio-CD/MP3, USB port, iPod compatible
Steering wheel mounted audio controls
Rake and reach steering adjustment
Driver’s seat height adjustment
Active headrests on both front seats
Electric front windows
Remote central locking with deadlocks
Aluminium door scuff plates
Sharp sporty looks, strong performance, supple ride, well-mannered handling, engaging drive
Notchy gearchange, restricted access to rear seat, no automatic, silly name