There are an increasing number of manufacturers turning to smaller, turbocharged petrol engines for their vehicles. The idea is that the performance is there when you feel like putting your foot down, but for the most part you benefit from improved fuel economy. The GT Line model of the popular Kia Cee’d does just that. Sporty styling meets economy. I grabbed a Pro Cee’d model for a week with a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, to see if there is an alternative for the mighty Ford EcoBoost…
I really like the styling of the Cee’d, and its 3-door brother the pro_cee’d. Throw in the GT Line trim and it’s a real winner. The honeycomb grille with chrome surround at the front looks aggressive, and the quad daytime running lights in each corner are fantastic. The headlights are long and sleek, creating a sweeping line to the side profile, where a large side skirt keeps the sporty theme going. The privacy glass and chrome window surround add a premium edge. The 17-inch two tone grey/polished alloy wheels are nice too. At the back the twin exhausts sit nicely either side of the diffuser. The subtle spoiler finishes off what is a curvaceous back end nicely.
On the inside there is plenty to like. The seats, although not Recaro’s as you get in the GT, are sculpted and visually appealing, with a cross-stitch pattern and contrast stitching. The dials grab the driver’s attention by being bold and bright. The steering wheel has gloss black trim and features a host of buttons, and the sides are perforated which is a subtle sporty touch. In the centre of the dashboard is the 7-inch media screen and the start button. A dark headlining is typical of a sporty car, and the interior plastics are of the usual high-quality expected of Kia. The last little touches I like are the leather handbrake and door card trims, which showcase Kia’s commitment to build quality.
Handling/Performance – 8/10
There are two engine choices for the GT Line models; a 1.6-litre diesel engine or a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. I opted to test the latter, to see how it stacked up against the likes of the Fiat TwinAir and Ford EcoBoost. The Kia’s engine is a 4-cylinder, 16-valve 1.0-litre and produces 118PS and 171Nm of torque. This is sent to the road via a 6-speed manual gearbox, and results in a 0-62mph time of 10.7 seconds and a top speed of 118mph. To drive the GT Line feels faster than the numbers suggest. Work the gearbox and it feels positively nippy. Surprisingly, there’s a hint of 3-cylinder note to the engine, and it revs well. What impressed me the most was the cruising ability. At motorway speeds in 6th gear you simply poke your right toe and you can get past the car in your way.
The pro_cee’d is a bigger car than you might think, and this becomes apparent when you stick it into some corners. There’s a little bit of lean as you turn in, and it just doesn’t feel nimble. It doesn’t help that the non-Recaro seats are borderline sufficient when it comes to lateral support. What I do like is the adjustable electric power steering. There’s 3 modes; normal, comfort and sport. I found comfort useful on the motorway, when responsive steering isn’t high on your priority list. Sport drops the level of electric assistance to give a weightier feel. Steering response doesn’t feel as sharp as, say, a Fiesta, but the driving position is good and overall the drive is involving.
Economy – 10/10
The 1.0T comes with Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) which cuts the engine in traffic to save fuel. Cruise control helps you on a motorway run, and the 6-speed gearbox keeps revs down too. At 70mph you’re doing around 2,500rpm which is great for improving the economy. As a result the pro_cee’d offers 57.6mpg on a combined cycle, and with CO2 emissions of 115g/km finds itself in VED band C. Road tax is free for the first year, and a mere £30 after that. Be warned though, if you start getting a bit giddy with the accelerator then fuel consumption will be notably average.
Practicality – 9/10
The only downside to the pro_cee’d is that it is a 3-door. That in itself is not a problem, but the size of the doors can be. They’re pretty big, and in tighter parking spaces it wasn’t the easiest to get in and out of. The advantage of the Kia’s size is the roomy cabin and spacious boot. Other than that the pro_cee’d is great to live with. The standard specification is nothing if not comprehensive. There’s satellite navigation, a reversing camera, keyless entry and go, cruise control with speed limiter, dual-zone climate control, electronic lumbar support, auto lights and auto wipers. The list goes on. It means there’s plenty to keep you entertained, and also ensures the Kia makes life easier on the road.
Fun – 8/10
As I have found with other small-engined sporty cars, the GT Line has a lot of likeability. The stylish is sharp and it looks fantastic, especially in the bold red of my test car. In particular the quad ‘ice cube’ LED daytime running lights catch your eye when you’re behind another vehicle in traffic. The iPod connectivity is good, and you can also stream music through Bluetooth. The look of surprise on people’s face when they ask what engine lies under the bonnet was priceless, and above all there’s a decent driving package on offer. I think the GT Line misses some of the key features of the GT which complete the package, but then that feels like I’m being picky. Optional Recaro’s would be a winner for me though.
So that just about concludes my time with the pro_cee’d GT Line. It has the sporty looks, and a well-rounded drivetrain to balance economy and performance. What frustrates me is that some people are still unconvinced of the brand, although they can often be swayed after spending a bit of time in it. For more information on the pro_cee’d range visit your local dealer or log on to the Kia website. The price for the pro_cee’d GT Line with the 1.0T engine is £19,720 and I think that represents good value for the level of specification on offer. Granted, the Fiesta ST is in that price bracket, but it’s not as roomy and less filled with toys. So don’t be so quick to dismiss the Kia; it’s a pleasant surprise and its 1.0-litre engine is a (small) breath of fresh air.
Total Score – 45/50