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Hot hatch is so very civilised
Published 21/07/14

What’s your understanding of the GT tag that carmakers attach to models they presumably want to appear both a bit more powerful and a tad racier than the average car?

I have always understood the letters grouped together thus stood for Gran Turismo which translated meant Grand Tourer. After all if you add the lower-case “i” on the end well, we all know what that means: thereby lies the myth or otherwise of the boy racer in his GTi.

I have owned one GTi long ago, and it was indeed a boy racer’s dream. Yet, dare I say it, it could also prove a little tiresome to drive because it always wanted to go with no calmer moments in between.

But if we stick with the term GT which is presumably there to denote something more civilised then what we get in various available definitions is Gran Turismo. One is a distinct video game but it goes further back I think.

The Italians of course are the culprits as with many things from that car mad nation or at least according to Wikipedia (okay I know all about Wiki-isms, in other words things that may not necessarily be so). But I think it is a fair bet that GT does stand for Gran Turismo (Grand Tourer).

It was “a type of car for travelling long distance very fast in high style”. And, adding the “i” in fact stands simply for fuel injection.

The father of GTis was claimed to be the Maserati 3500 GTi introduced in 1961 as the first fuel-injected Italian production car.With that classic dollop of pedantry behind us then, it brings us nicely to this week’s test drive: the rather excellent Kia cee’d GT.

Actually my first impression of the cee’d GT was that it ought to have the “i” coupled to the GT tag sorry, I’m off again because this car with its toothsome 1.6 litre petrol engine fairly zips along. And it is certainly a hot hatch in the nicest possible sense.

It can achieve a top speed of 143mph (if you are somewhere where they might allow it) and take off from a standing start to 60mph in just 7.4 seconds, which is not half bad. But lurking in the press release is a statement by Kia that caught my eye and one might think smacks of the best aspirations of carmakers down the ages.

This applies especially to the Italians who have given us some truly great cars.

However, the Kia cee’d GT is not from the Mediterranean but from South Korea, a very different part of the world. It is from there that rejuvenated carmakers such as Kia are giving the old guard of Europe a run for their money in every sense of the phrase.

The Kia statement says that “Kia has deliberately not become involved in a power battle for its first entry [the cee’d GT and its sister model, the pro_cee’d GT) into the hot hatchback market.”

Kia prefers “to focus on making a performance car with everyday usability” with “civility in mind”. I like that last phrase because as you might know if you are a regular reader, I believe there is a distinct lack of civility among too many drivers today more’s the pity. It can make motoring more of a pain than a pleasure.

However, what you have here, with the cee’d GT is a five-door (very civilised) hatch with a turbocharged version of the carmaker’s Gamma 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol engine, that will have you if you must competing with other GTs and GTis.

For the technical among us, what makes this Kia go pretty quickly is the aforementioned Gamma engine: the exhaust-driven turbocharger raises the 1.6-litre engine’s power output by 51 per cent over a “normal” engine and its torque (pulling power) by 61 per cent. But the engine is flexible enough not to make you into a hare-brained driver who might get the urge to race everyone in sight.

And there are nice touches that make the c’eed GT homely and sensible, too: comfortable trim with meticulous exposed stitching, wraparound GTi type front seats that ensure a smooth ride and even bottle straps and a netting in the boot for your shopping.

But wait, there is one more striking asset the Kia cee’d GT has that is going to interest potential buyers: prices start from just £19,995.

Now that may not be in the tradition of GT cars at the prestige end of the market but in 2014 it definitely has to be a winning formula for Kia.

l Car tested: Kia cee’d GT

l Prices from £19,995

l One of two new Kia sporty models:

l Three-door pro_cee’d GT now joined by five-door cee’d GT

l 201bhp and 265 Nm of torque from 1.6-litre T-GDI engine

l Sports-tuned chassis, styling and interior

Telephone: (01491) 419419  Email: adverts@higgsgroup.co.uk

Published 21/07/14

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