Review and road test of the Kia pro_cee'd GT (2012 - 2018)
By Jonathan Crouch
Kia's pro_cee'd GT coupe, sold between 2012 and 2018, offers a sensible spin on sporty motoring. It's also good looking, reasonably priced and drives remarkably well. A sensible choice then - but one with a little sexiness thrown in.
3dr coupe (1.6 petrol turbo)
Launched in 2012, Kia's pro_cee'd GT was Korea's first really credible performance-orientated model. It didn't set its sights too high - just over 200bhp wasn't an enormous amount of power in the hot hatch segment even back then - but there was enough speed to satisfy and enough value to make this car stand out from its European rivals.
When the second generation pro_cee'd range was revised in the Autumn of 2015, the brand took the opportunity to give the GT model a handling upgrade. With sharper suspension, larger brakes and an electric sound generator to amplify the engine note, more of an enthusiast-orientated package was delivered. It sold until 2018, after which, it was replaced by a Fastback estate model.
What You Get
This pro_cee'd GT certainly has plenty of streetside appeal, helped by the fact that this model's basic shape lends itself to this variant's sportier, more dynamic look. There's a lower, broader bumper and air dam. And on the facelifted post-'16-era version, the wide central lower air intake that cools the turbocharged engine is flanked on either side by high-gloss black inserts housing 'ice cube'-style LED daytime running lamps and foglights. The high gloss black theme is continued by the chrome-framed main radiator grille, while finishing touches on the facelifted car are supplied by graphite grey 18-inch alloy wheels with red brake callipers, plus bold side sill mouldings and a potent rear diffuser.
This purposeful feel continues when you take a seat behind the wheel. Here, you're gripped by bespoke part-leather, part-suede Recaro racing-style seats and grip a 'D'-shaped sports steering wheel featuring red stitching you'll also find on the gearstick and the door trims. You also get stainless steel pedals, while high gloss black finishing on the air vent surrounds, the front console tray and the door trims aims to add a premium flourish. Ahead of you, there's Kia's familiar three-dial instrument layout, enhanced by a TFT LCD multi-function high-definition display that allows the driver to switch between analogue-type or GT performance digital read-outs.
Getting into the rear is made easier by front doors that are 270mm longer than those in the five-door cee'd - though that might be a problem in tight parking spaces.. Once there, thanks to a wheelbase length identical to that of the five-door cee'd, space for a couple of adults is reasonable on all but the longest journeys. Out back, there's the same 380-litre boot you'd get on the five-door model. The 1210-litre total capacity you get when the seats are flattened is only 93-litres less than you'd have in a five-door cee'd.
What to Look For
The pro_cee'd GT has proven an extremely reliable car, with its petrol engine scoring well in reliability surveys. In our ownership survey, we came across a report of a steering lock sticking. And another of a flashing airbag light and a flashing oil pressure light (traced to a faulty sensor). One owner needed both headlights replaced due to the failure of the LED daytime running lamps. We came across that more than once, so check the DRLs on the car you're looking at. Another reported that a sticking brake calliper caused the front brake pads to wear unevenly. That owner also observed that the front passenger seat refused to stay at its chosen height. Apparently, the 'diamond cut' alloy wheels on this top GT model blister easily. Otherwise, it's just the usual stuff. Check the alloys for scuffs. The interior for child damage. And insist on a fully stamped-up service history.
(approx based on a 2015 pro_cee'd GT ex VAT) An air filter will be priced at around £8-£11, an oil filter will sit in the £3 to £8 bracket, a water pump is around £77 and a thermostat is around £19-£33. For a pair of front brake discs, you're looking at paying in the £60 to £80 bracket, with a pair of rear discs costing up to around £38-£60. A pair of front brake pads are around £20-£65, while a pair of rear pads sit in the £35 bracket for a set. And a wiper blade can cost anything between £10-£18.
On the Road
This car uses essentially the same 'Gamma' 1.6-litre GDI engine featured in the normally aspirated 133bhp pro_cee'd model, but here, a turbocharger raises power by 51% and torque by 61% to deliver 201bhp. This creates a much stronger level of performance, with rest to 62mph taking 7.7s en route to 143mph. In the original pro_cee'd GT model (that sold between 2013 and 2015), gunning the engine like this didn't induce much of a feel-good factor. With the facelifted post-'16-era car though, Kia added in what it called an 'electric sound generator', one of those sound symposer systems that works through the audio speakers to fill the cabin with a 'sportier' noise as you accelerate.
The post-'16-era GT variant was also dynamically sharpened up as part of the changes made to the revised second generation pro_cee'd line-up, with a sports suspension package that gave the car a little more cornering bite but still retained the comfortable ride of the original version. Don't get us wrong: there's nothing like the fluency you'd get from, say, a Focus ST or a Golf GTI for example - but here, the South Koreans definitely narrowed the gap to class leaders of that kind.
The pro_cee'd GT coupe was a statement of intent, a forerunner to the properly sporting models we've since seen from the brand. We'd ideally go for a 2016-2018 facelift version: it feels sharper and sounds so much better than the original. Pricing may not be as cheap as you might expect. Having said that, find a similarly powerful rival hot hatch with comparable levels of equipment from this era and you'll probably find yourself paying substantially more. In summary, an unusual shopping rocket choice from this period, but actually quite a clever one.
Kia pro_cee'd GT (2012 - 2018) review by Jonathan Crouch