When Kia signed off the third-generation Ceed, we’re told it spent a further six months fettling the suspension of the range-topping GT specifically for European roads.
For a car designed in Frankfurt, manufactured in Slovakia and tested at a little-known circuit called the Nürburgring, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. And yet because the project was overseen by Albert Biermann – formerly head of BMW M, now chief engineer at Kia’s parent company Hyundai and therefore the man behind the excellent i30 N – neither can one so easily dismiss such a claim as marketing hot air.
The Ceed GT predates the i30 N, of course, and so has some history. Good history. Introduced in the 2015 as the Procee'd GT, Kia’s first go at a driver’s hatch wasn’t what you’d call quick, and yet with a 7.7sec 0-62mph time, neither was it slow. Similarly, while the front-driven chassis never felt as sharp as that of even a Golf GTI, it was a very long way from feeling blunt. Kia stuck to the line that, rather than being a sabre-toothed road-racer, this was a hatchback with more easy-going ‘grand touring’ pretensions, and only a faintly brittle ride undermined that. It felt honest, handled pleasingly, was comfortable even over long distances, and we liked it.
How doees the Ceed GT stand out from the standard car?
For 2019 the philosophy hasn’t changed, to the extent that this second attempt at a GT-grade Ceed might at first seem to move the game on not at all. You still get a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine making an identical 201bhp at 6000rpm and 195lb ft of torque, which now, in fairness, arrives a smidge earlier at 1500rpm.
It continues to drive the front wheels through an open differential (though there is still brake-based torque vectoring) and, just like the regular Ceed, you get fully independent rear suspension for improved steering precision. Renault’s Mégane GT, a key rival, might have four-wheel steering but does with a mere torsion beam.
The important development is that it’s all put together atop Kia’s brand-new steel-monocoque K2 platform. (As an aside, given the additional safety equipment, the palpably sturdier interior and the fact this new hot Ceed is now five-door only compared with its predecessor's three-door shell, a mere 19kg weight increase, to 1386kg, is mighty impressive.)
This is an excellent platform, wider and lower than before but with an unaltered wheelbase. Upon it, the GT sits 5mm closer still to the road than lesser Ceed variants and benefits from firmer state of tune for its passive suspension, though not to the extent that the chassis oscillates at the first sight of an uneven surface, as does its i30 N sibling. On sensibly sized 18in alloys, the ride is firm but unobtrusive, and if the mandate of a ‘warm’ hatch is to tidily dispatch motorway and B-road alike, then mission accomplished.