Sunday, 1 July 2012

2012 Kia Pro_Cee'd FULL ROAD TEST

In years gone by if practicality didn’t sit high on your agenda opting for a 3 door variant over a 5 door made perfect sense and would save you over £500 of the list price.

In recent years from extensive research it has been realised that 3 door hatches appeal more to young drivers who prefer the simpler, sportier appearance. Since then manufacturers have tried more than ever to tailor these cars to catch the eye of this clientele.

It all kicked off with Fiat’s C-segment entry which arrived in two distinctly different flavours, a practical 5 door Brava and a much sleeker looking 3 door Bravo. For the first time the difference between these two variants was more than losing the pair of rear doors, they actually only shared body panels up to the a-pillar – everything else was vastly different

It was obviously a strategy that paid off as today most C-segment cars have a sleek 3 door sibling and some are even marketed as Coupes and demand a price premium. Kia is not only new to this increasingly popular mini-segment but has also never produced a C-segment model ever before so the Pro_Cee’d has a rather tough task on its hands. We hop behind the wheel to find out what it has to offer.

What is it?

2006 Pro_Cee'd concept (library image)
The Pro_Cee’d was originally revealed in concept form at the 2006 Paris Motorshow and was extremely well received so went into production the following year almost unchanged. Designed to sit alongside the 5 door and SW Cee’d models the Pro_Cee’d is the sportiest of the three. Having been on sale for over five years it received a facelift in late 2010 with similar updates already seen on its siblings including revised front headlights, bumpers and changes to the interior trim including a new steering wheel. The range starts with the base “1” at £13,300 rising to the top of the range ‘4’ we are testing here which costs £18,995. There are a range of engines on offer including 1.4 and 1.6 litre petrol units and a 1.6 CRDi diesel unit that is available in 89, 114 or 126 bhp outputs. Here we are testing the plush Pro_Cee’d 4 1.6 CRDi 126bhp mated to Kia’s 6-speed manual gearbox.

Rivals: Seat Leon, Vauxhall Astra GTC, Renault Megane Coupe

  Key Features

    • 17” Alloy wheels
    • Heated leather seats
    • Dual zone air conditioning
    • Cruise control
    • 7” Touchscreen satellite navigation
    • Reversing camera
    • ABS, EBD, ESC, BAS & HAC
    • Powerfold mirrors

    Viewing the Pro_Cee’d from the front you could easily mistake it for its 5-door brother as it shares the same headlights, chrome effect grill and chiselled bonnet – the only difference is the more rakish lower bumper treatment. This is where the similarities end as the a-pillar is much shallower creating a sleeker look which works well with the broad, rising waistline to create a squat, wedgy coupe-like profile.

    It gets better at the rear with ultra-modern hip level light units that combine with the sleek rear windscreen and sporty oval tailpipe. It’s all topped of with the attractive 17” alloy wheels of our test car and a slightly lower ride height. It’s a well-proportioned, athletic design that’s unique when compared to its competitors.

    Rear styling manages to look sporty and modern

    From the front the Pro_Cee'd shares lots with its 5-door sibling but still looks fresh enough

    Open the long front doors and inside you will find an inoffensive, neatly designed cabin that’s built to a high standard. Quality materials feature on all of the surfaces that the driver comes into contact with. Admittedly it’s not the most eye-catching design and is starting to look a little dated but it works well and feels suitable sophisticated.

    The controls fall nicely to hand and operate with ease especially the superb multimedia stereo fitted to our car which incorporates an intuitive touchscreen interface. It also displays images from the rear mounted camera when reversing.

    The standard fit leather seats not only look great but also offer plenty of adjustment and support in all the right places. During cornering they are successful in keeping you in place and on longer journeys they are perfectly comfortable.

    Well built, logically laid out cabin is easy to live with if lacking in excitement

    Reversing camera is an excellent feature that's appearing in Kias more and more.

    Access to rear could be better and once inside its dark and short of space

    As you would expect of a car of this type there have been compromises in interior space. Up front there is plenty of room to stretch out but the rear is a difference story. To start with getting in and out easily is the art of an acrobat, the seats do slide forward but not by enough and the low roofline only complicates the issue. Annoyingly – as we have noticed on a handful of recent cars – the seats fail to return to their original position so need to be re-adjusted each time. Once in the back it’s not a particularly nice place to spend much time, legroom is good but headroom is tight and those small windows make for a dark, claustrophobic cabin.

    Luggage space isn’t far behind the 5-door Cee’d at 340 litres and although there is a sizeable lip when loading items the boot is a good shape. The rear seats fold for carrying larger items extending to 1,210 litres

    On the road the Pro_Cee’d is a mixed bag. The engine is a corker with 126bhp and 188lb/ft of torque from just 1900rpm making swift progress easily feeling much quicker than the quoted 10.6 second to 60mph. Power delivery is smooth and the generous mid-range punch makes for an entertaining drive. The only let-down is the course engine note at higher revs that you don’t get in rival cars.

    The moment you set off the taut ride is obvious – there is very little body movement which makes it feel very sporty. Unfortunately ride quality as a result is very poor, even the smallest imperfections make themselves known and motorway expansion joints are unbearable. The general feeling is that there is a complete lack of damping and we are certain that the 17” alloy wheels fitted to our car only make things worse.

    Show the Pro_Cee’d a corner and the firm suspension starts to pay off, body-roll is well contained unless really pushed and grip is plentiful. The steering is nicely weighted but completely lacking in feel. The same can be said for the 6-speed gearbox which has a nice smooth action but feels woolly.

    With an asking price of £18,995 for our top spec “4” you could hardly call it a bargain. However equipment levels are relatively generous – heated seats, a reversing camera and touchscreen sat-nav all come as standard on top of the usual digital air conditioning, cruise control and 17” alloy wheels. Safety kit is also plentiful and if the worst happens the Pro_Cee’d is backed up by a 5 start Euro NCAP crash rating. More affordable models lower down in the range also come well equipped with the same safety features. Running costs are pretty reasonable returning with a combined 62.8 mpg and siting in tax band C.

    Words and Photos by Rob McSorley

    Technical Data

    Price as tested: £18,995
    Engine: 1.6 16v 126bhp - 0-62mph: 10.6 secs - Maximum Speed: 122mph -
    Economy: 54.3mpg (urban) –67.3mpg (extra-urban), 62.8mpg (combined) - Emissions: 119g/km (Band C) - VED (12 months): £30
    Dimensions: Length: 4250mm - Width: 1790mm - Height: 1450mm - Wheelbase: 2650mm

    *data from Kia UK

    The Verdict 3/5

    The Kia Pro_Cee’d is a really interesting car. It’s a very appealing design that manages to look sporty and still very modern despite being on the market since 2007. Inside its comfortable, well designed and has a pleasingly high quality feel. Cabin space in the front is good and the boot is usefully spacious. The 1.6 diesel engine we tested really was the star of the show proving economical and punchy if a little short on refinement. Where this car really falls down is dynamically -ultimately it’s flawed. Despite handling well enough there is very little connection through the controls which doesn’t inspire confidence. The ride is also poorly calibrated with a complete lack of compliancy that’s essential when tackling the UKs poorly surfaced roads. Despite these shortcomings it’s easy to appreciate the effort that Kia has put into this car and it makes the second generation Pro_Cee’d which is coming soon a very exciting prospect.

    You will like

    You wont like
    Poor ride quality
    Confined rear cabin
    Lack of feel through controls

    Special Thanks to; Kia Motors (UK) Limited, 2 The Heights , Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 0NY

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