What is it?
The three-door version of the Cee’d five-door, with an equally silly name and an A-pillars-aft restyle that has produced a very good looking car – and one that bears a striking resemblance to the Audi A3. Which isn’t a total surprise when you consider that Kia’s design boss Peter Schreyer came from the Ingolstadt company.
Kia is claiming a more athletic drive from this sportier-looking three door, whose overall length is greater than the five door’s to emphasise the sleeker look that comes with a lower roofline. The suspension now features nitrogen-filled gas dampers, a thicker rear anti-roll bar and tweaked power steering in the quest for greater agility too.
The engine choice will include an entry-level 103bhp 1.4 petrol later this year, while a 123bhp 1.6 petrol, a 1.6 turbodiesel of either 88- or 112bhp and a 136bhp 2.0 turbodiesel make up the rest of the range. Pick of the bunch, though, is the 1.6 diesel, which in its higher output tune provides enough go – just – to suit this Pro_cee’d’s sportier demeanour.
What’s it like?
The Pro_cee’d looks decidedly sportier than the Cee’d and the impression is maintained when you climb inside, because the roofline is lower and because there’s so much less glass to the rear of the ‘B’ pillars.
The car's dashboard is well-made and almost classy – it looks a bit too featureless ahead of the passenger seat – the driving position is no-nonsense, so are the controls and the level of detail convenience, from a proper iPod/USB socket to properly thought-through storage cubbies, is excellent. You can tell that product planners have been at work here.
Move off, and you immediately sense the somewhat unfortunate effects of the chassis tweaks. Admittedly the Istanbul roads where we sampled the car are about as smooth as the moon, but the crude way in which the Pro_cee’d handles bumps will soon have you concluding that it’s multi-link rear end has been wasted.
Couple this to an over-sensitive throttle and oddly springy steering and you have a car that falls well short of the dynamic standards set by a Focus, or indeed, an Audi A3. But on smooth roads it demonstrates plenty of grip, there’s not much body roll and the ESP kicks in with some panache, as we discovered on a mirror-smooth downhill Istanbul bend. The brakes and gearchange are adequate too.
If you can live with these mild disappointments – and the Pro-cee’d’s looks and price will help – you’ll enjoy the genuine excellence of the new 1.6 turbodiesel, whose refinement and power delivery are exceptional. This is an engine with less of the very low-rev lag that trips up many a turbodiesel in traffic, to produce pleasingly lively performance. Just as satisfying is the near-total absence of diesel cackle, making this engine the most highly polished piece of the Pro_cee’d package.
Should I buy one?
Most budget cars are compromised, and so it is with the Pro_cee’d, but it differs from most of the breed by looking pretty, coming with a seven year warranty and, in the case of the 1.6 diesel, a mighty fine engine too.
That said, you have to buy a higher trim level to get the high-output 1.6 diesel, taking you to £14,295, and well into Focus territory, if not the foothills of the Audi A3 range. So it’s tempting, but if chassis dynamics are your priority, take your money elsewhere.