The next evolution of Kia’s brand positioning is beginning this month. In the space of a decade it has progressed from cheap and basic cars to well designed, good value transport, and now it has another pair of adjectives in its sights: fun and youthful.
No-one expects that brand association to occur overnight, but the arrival of the South Korean brand’s first performance model is a step in the right direction. On paper the Pro_Cee’d GT looks a great proposition, with a 201bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, more aggressive bodystyling, 18in alloys and a sportier-styled interior complete with Recaro sports seats.
In reality, thanks to that torquey turbocharged direct injection engine plus retuned suspension and steering, it lives up to expectations as a car which Kia admits is focused on offering an enthusiastic driving experience while remaining practical, comfortable and affordable. It’s good, safe fun but no track day car.
Priced from £19,995 and with a standard seven-year warranty, it offers good value when compared against more established rivals such as a Vauxhall Astra SRi, although it is beaten on CO2 emissions. Kia Motors UK commercial director Yaser Shabsogh is confident it will bring more new customers into the Kia fold.
It won’t send Kia’s new car volume instantly skywards, however. Full year UK sales expectations are around 500 to 600 units. That equates to around four units per Kia dealership. The more important role for Pro_Cee’d GT, and the five-door Cee’d GT due in 2014, is to get Kia noticed by more consumers, so much so that it will feature in Kia’s brand advertising campaign in the second half of 2013.
Standard kit is generous. GT specification includes twin exhausts, red brake calipers, leather/suede upholstered seats, air-con, cruise control, reversing sensors and privacy glass. For £22,495 buyers can upgrade to a Pro_Cee’d GT Tech which adds numerous items such as a 7in touchscreen display with sat-nav and dual zone climate control.