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Facelift brings a revised look and suspension tweaks to Kia’s warm hatch

Kia revealed the facelifted version of its Cee’d hatchback at the Frankfurt motor show in 2015, and those updates were extended to the three-door Procee'd and red-blooded Procee’d GT.

Upgrades from the facelift saw the GT gain larger brakes, new 18in alloy wheels, a new grille and the same redesigned front bumper you’ll find on the five-door Cee’d GT. The suspension has been revised in an effort to deliver a keener, more engaging drive.

While this updated GT does offer an engaging and fun drive, it’s never quite on the same level as class champions such as the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI

It all sounds good until you get to the reference in the brochure to the GT’s new ‘electric sound generator’, designed to enhance the engine’s natural sound inside the cabin.

This type of generator is more commonly called a sound symposer – and it’s something of a poisoned chalice. While it can fill a car’s cabin with a ‘sportier’ noise, it can also sound unpleasant and artificial. Often, you’re left thinking the engine’s natural note isn’t sporty enough without it.

On looks alone, the Procee’d GT is a winner. Its larger wheels and unique light clusters set it apart from the rest of the Cee’d range, while inside there are all of the usual hot hatchback features you’d expect. These include all the trimmings found on the GT-Line trimmed Procee'd, including Kia's 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with TomTom's sat nav and reversing camera, dual-zone climate control, and keyless start and entry, but minus the spare wheel and flex steer system. 

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The additions include adaptive xenon headlights, heated front Recaro seats and steering wheel, red brake calipers, dual exhaust and an aggressive bodykit. While the GT’s looks have been upgraded, the power from its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine remains the same as before, at 201bhp and 195lb ft of torque.

When we first drove the Procee’d GT in 2013, we praised its road manners and handling but found it to be more of a warmed-up version of the regular Cee’d than a true hot hatchback. That much remains true, because while this updated GT does offer an engaging and fun drive, it’s never quite on the same level as class champions such as the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Helped by its twin-scroll turbocharger, the 201bhp petrol engine provides a decent surge of power, but acceleration feels simply rapid rather than rocketship fast. Kia says the GT can reach 60mph in 7.3sec before powering on to its maximum speed of 143mph. That’s fine, but the Golf GTI takes 6.5sec and has a higher top speed.

The Kia’s new sports suspension delivers a firm ride but is still comfortable. You’ll feel most road bumps at low speeds, but on the motorway the GT is composed. There’s some road noise from the tyres but, as with the regular Cee’d, wind noise is fairly low.

The GT’s steering is on the lighter side, although feels pleasingly direct. The car changes direction sharply without ever feeling unsettled. The six-speed manual gearbox provides smooth, quick changes.

On the right series of corners, the GT is fun to drive; it just doesn’t have as much muscle as you might wish, and that’s something which leaves it trailing behind the class best.

At £23,310, the Procee’d GT is considerably cheaper than the Volkswagen Golf GTI (at £27,495) but more than the Ford Focus ST (at £22,950), but it does come with substantially more standard equipment. For that reason, in terms of pure value for money it must be applauded, even if it can’t match its rivals on performance.

So what about that sound symposer? It adds a suitably sporty and engaging note, but once you realise it’s all just electronic trickery, it loses some of its appeal. On the other hand, without the symposer activated, the GT doesn’t sound nearly as good.

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That aside, the GT is a good warm hatchback, ideal for those seeking the occasional spirited drive without having to spend a fortune, or compromise elsewhere. It’s not as hot as some drivers might like, but with the true hot hatchback market so well catered for, perhaps there is room for a slightly cooler hatch.

First drives