Overall rating: 4/5
With head-turning looks, a supple ride and as much practicality as the five-door cee'd, the three-door Kia pro_cee'd makes a good case for itself as the sexy Korean of choice. We just wish it went as well as it looks - is Kia holding it all back for the GT model?
In the metal 4/5
On paper there is little to separate the three-door pro_cee'd from its five-door sibling; both cars have the same overall length, width and wheelbase. However, the roofline of the sportier car is 40mm lower while the B-pillar is 220mm further back than it is in the cee'd. Everything aft of those pillars is unique to the pro_cee'd giving it enough of a visual change to differentiate it from the rest of the family.
To further emphasise this difference the pro_cee'd will be offered in a range of six special colours and (depending on model) it gains a unique dark chrome front grille, LED daylight running lights and LED rear lamp clusters.
While changes to separate the models are evident outside, inside it is as-you-were with the interior lifted wholesale from the cee'd, even down to the 380-litre boot space. This is no bad thing, as the standard car features a high level of fit and finish, with some attractive trim thrown in for good measure.
Driving it 3/5
Those attracted by the sporty looks of the pro_cee'd may find themselves disappointed with how it actually drives. It seems, along with much of the interior fittings, Kia lifted the suspension straight from the regular cee'd model. The result is a ride that is somewhere between compliant and stiff - as one would expect from a ‘sporty' model - but devoid of any of the feel that would also be associated with such a car. Even adjusting the ‘FlexSteer' settings to Sport mode cannot mask the vagueness in the steering and instead introduces an artificial weight to the mix. It seems the pro_cee'd's looks are writing cheques that its drivetrain cannot cash.
For some of course this will be the appeal of the pro_cee'd; they want the sporty looks without the hard suspension and fuel consumption that usually goes with high performance. We just cannot help feeling that maybe Kia went a bit too soft this time.
What you get for your money 4/5
Kia Ireland will only offer the pro_cee'd in one specification - the €22,900 EX. This model will be generously equipped with 16-inch alloys, cornering lights, LED lights front and rear, air conditioning, cruise control and Bluetooth/USB/aux-in connectivity.
The pro_cee'd will of course form the base for the first ‘hot' Kia - the pro_cee'd GT that made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The 204hp, turbocharged 1.6-litre car made a short hop from Switzerland to Monaco to act as a static display for the regular car's launch and while we would have liked to have driven it we can confirm that, in the looks department at least, it has a lot going for it.
While the first generation Kia pro_cee'd was attractive and generously equipped, it maybe came too early in the company's transformation to be a true sales success. With the Korean manufacturer having moved from budget into the mainstream the second generation model has a much better chance. The car looks even better than before and while the Irish range is likely to be limited there should be enough there to see it compete with the Renault Mégane Coupé and Opel Astra GTC.