Good to look at, and to drive, but no thoroughbred hot hatch

What is it?

The Pro_cee'd is the sporty-looking brother of the successful Cee'd hatch and station wagon. It is longer and lower than the Cee'd – the bonnet and front wings are the only body panels they have in common – and is loyal to the looks and spirit of the 2006 Paris motor show concept, with its raked roofline and shallow glasshouse.

Designed and built in Europe, at Kia's facility in Zilina, Slovakia, it is due to go on sale in the UK at the beginning of February.

What’s it like?

Kia has tried hard to produce a driver-focused three-door coupé version of the cee'd. The car looks spectacular and attracted so much attention and hooting during the Istanbul test drive that we actually stopped to check for punctures.

The spring rates and dampers have been stiffened to improve handling, but have done so at the expense of the cee'd's excellent ride. The handling is more focused, but when driving on the limit you are always aware that this is a sporty, distinctively styled three-door coupe, not a hot hatch.

The 1.6-litre petrol unit keeps the nose weight low, while its broad torque spread and free-revving nature combine with five well-spaced ratios to make an entertaining if not thrilling driver's car. The only serious weakness is the gearshift, which lacks the crispness you'd expect and has quite a long throw.

Passenger and luggage accommodation are both surprisingly generous, considering the car's dimensions. The extra long doors open to 70 degrees, allowing good access to the rear seats, and the tilting front seats have a memory that means they slide back to their previous position after entry.

Should I buy one?

If you're searching for a reliable hatch that's fun to drive, great to look at and economical, then you're looking in the right place. If you want to buy a cut-throat hot hatch that'll give an M3 a run for its money across country then wait for the Focus RS. If in doubt, think about the seven-year warranty.

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