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The new Kia Ceed GT has been designed, developed, built and will be sold exclusively in Europe and I recently broke away from the winter weather at home and to a sunnier Spain to get behind the wheel.

In order to fine tune and work on the handling aspects, a six month development programme was undertaken and the end result is a very pleasing package. With a 1.6 litre T-GDi engine, which develops 201bhp, much attention was paid to the suspension set up and this GT boasts a number of electronic driver aids. In harmony with the exterior’s sporty styling, the interior continues the theme with design cues and comfy sports seats.

I first cast my eyes on the newcomer at the 2018 Paris Motor Show when it shared the stage with the new ProCeed GT and Ceed GT-Line. It is worth noting the original Ceed GT was launched in 2013 and it was one of the first performance hatchbacks from the South Korean carmaker. However, in its latest guise it offers much more in terms of performance, improved handling and wide use of technology. According to Kia, there is a growing demand for faster and more engaging cars such as the Ceed GT’s big brother the Stinger.

The new Ceed GT occupies a unique position in the mid-size family car sector of the market and simply does not seek the highest top speed or fastest straight-line acceleration; it offers greater agility and grip on winding roads, maximum confidence and comfort at a cruise, and fast-revving turbocharged power perfectly matched to our roads. I was lucky in that we had a route which delivered roads very akin to Ireland, permitting me to discover the handling and ride qualities of this impressive newcomer.

The heart of the matter is a newly-developed 1.6-litre T-GDi engine which is exclusive to the GT. With 201bhp at a 6,000rpm peak, this engine continues to provide effortless acceleration and easily-accessible torque. Maximum torque of 265Nm is available across a wide 1,500-to-4,500rpm rev range and the result is an engine which delivers as much of its performance as possible across all driving conditions. A six-speed manual transmission as standard and top speed is 230kph (143mph), acceleration to 100kph (62mph) is completed in just 7.2 seconds and the CO2 emission figure is 155g/km. I was not at all surprised to discover the level of technology designed to make travel easy, comfortable and safe. The standard eight inch floating touch screen satellite navigation system features Kia Connected Services powered by TomTom and it enables full smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay (for iPhone 5 and onwards) and Android Auto (for Android phones running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher). Standard technologies include full Bluetooth smartphone integration, automatic lights, keyless entry and heated front seats. There are six standard airbags; advanced driver assistance technologies enhance occupant protection, using active safety systems to mitigate the risk of collisions. Standard safety technologies include High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keeping Assist with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist – City. Additional technologies include Smart Parking Assist and pedestrian recognition for the Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist system. Also standard Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management which ensures stability when braking and cornering by controlling the car’s Electronic Stability Control if it detects a loss of traction.

So what makes a GT? For a start a sporty exterior design, to differentiate it visually from others in the range. At the front there is a new bumper design, incorporating larger air intakes and gloss black trim along the base and like the standard model, the GT features a modern interpretation of Kia’s four-lamp ice-cube LED daytime running lights, integrated into the main headlamp unit. The tiger-nose grille is also adapted for the new model, with a dark chrome surround and a subtle GT logo and the honeycomb grille pattern is also embedded with subtle red highlights. The GT is finished with a glossy chrome window surround and more substantial side sills, finished in gloss black and red. Riding on 18-inch alloy wheels which feature a new castellated centre cap finished in red, and house red brake calipers. At 135mm, the ride height is reduced by 5mm over other Ceed models, making it appear more planted on the road and reducing the overall centre of gravity. A unique GT bumper at the rear complements that found at the front, housing a subtle gloss black rear diffuser, as well as GT badging and a small roof spoiler helps channel air cleanly off the top of the car. Production is at Kia’s Zilina in Slovakia and the Ceed GT is produced alongside the Ceed, ProCeed and Ceed Sportswagon.

Ian Lynas

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