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.
Does the Ceed GT drive like a true hot hatchback?
But the GT is better than tidy on B-roads, in fact. The combination of Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, beloved by Kia’s chassis engineers, and softer anti-roll bars have dramatically curbed the old car’s taste for understeer. Moreover, the quickened steering ratio (up 17%) and a convincingly weighted action allow you to really indulge in the front axle.
Up the ante and tighter bends highlight an ultimate preference for handling stability rather than agility – nicely balanced, it’s nothing like as expressive as the similarly powerful Fiesta ST – but the GT carries eye-widening speed through third-gear sweepers. Gung-ho adjustability is in short supply but when loaded up the suspension geometry will respond subtly to the throttle, while torque vectoring helps stick the nose on line.
High-speed suspension compressions can briefly expose a lack of pliancy, and adaptive dampers might subdue the chassis’ faint fidget at a cruise, but even so the Ceed GT goes about its business with a maturity beyond Kia’s experience level. Call it the Biermann Effect.
Less mature is this T-GDi engine. Like almost all downsized turbo units, it is massively tractable relative to its modest displacement, but turbo-lag and a pronounced flywheel effect mean it doesn't match the precision of the chassis. Even specific valving can't remedy the exhaust note, either. The crank might happily spin up to 6000rpm, but the nasal monotone could do more to inspire – as could the six-speed manual gearbox, whose throw is accurate but a bit insipid (it’s possible, but not necessarily advisable, to get the slant-roofed Proceed GT with a dual-clutch ’box). Those are jobs for the facelift.
Along with the inherently good ergonomics of the third-generation Ceed, as everyday transport the GT is not only a convincing car but also a promising one.