Of the handful of cars fittingly equipped to demonstrate Korea’s world-class aspirations, Kia’s Pro Cee’d GT is right up there.
And upon our current long-termer hatchback’s shoulders sits the Asian nation’s strongest BFYB pitch to date.
That mantle used to be Hyundai’s, specifically the i30, currently the SR variant, which you’ll read about elsewhere down the rankings.
Relativity? Well, down the drag strip, the Kia’s 7.47sec 0-100m and 15.37sec 0-400m times were a full second quicker than the i30, and the GT’s 4.60 80-120km/h sprint a sizeable 0.9sec brisker than the SR’s.
Terminal speed? At the 400m mark the Kia was almost 10km/h faster than its arch national rival.
Our emergency braking test couldn’t shake the status quo either, the Kia’s 37.7m stop a full four metres shorter than the Hyundai.
And, unlike the i30, the GT’s stoppers held up respectably to torturous lapping at Winton. Between these domestic rivals, the particularly richly spec’d $29,990 Kia asks for just two grand extra over the i30, demonstrating impressive all-round value.
Thing is, there were three other sub-$30K front-drivers from Europe – the Fiesta ST, the Peugeot 208 GTI and the Clio R.S. – that were giving the BFYB stopwatch a harder shake.
All of them are smaller compact hatchbacks yet equally potent under their bonnets. Even at 150kW/265Nm, the Kia’s 1.6L turbo four is a little undercooked for its small hatch segment.
It could do with a proper 2.0L engine and, frankly, the Euros stole the march over the Kia pretty much everywhere.
In fact, only three competitors of the sub-$50K class were slower around Winton Kia’s lap time of 1:47.8sec: the Abarth, the i30 SR and the Mazda 3 SP25. Meanwhile, the quickest of the 12-strong group was a full 6.3sec faster to the chequered flag.
The same could be said about straight-line performance. While it certainly gave the Hyundai a pasting, its time were still dwelling down towards the bottom end of the results lists.
The Kia is certainly world class for all-round goodness, especially in areas such as refinement, equipment levels, design and more.
The GT is a surprisingly good and solid performer. But it offers go-fast greatness merely in shades, and the reality is that $30K can buy quicker devices that are patently more engaging to drive.
I suspect Korea will be giving the sharp end a big hustle sooner rather than later, though…
$0-50K placing – 9th
Overall placing – 10th
Judges’ ranking – 16th
0-100km/h – 7.47sec (18th)
0-400m – 15.37sec @ 149.36km/h (17th)
Lap time – 1:47.80sec (18th)
Pricing - $29,990 (6th)
Engine: 1591cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 150kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 265Nm @ 1750-4500rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
Suspension: struts, anti-roll bar (f); multi-links, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
Brakes: 300mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (f); 262mm solid discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 18 x 7.5-inch (f/r)
Tyres: 225/40 ZR18 92Y Michelin Pilot Sport 3 (f/r)