Kia is serious about making its mark in the growing affordable three-door hatchback market with the new Pro_cee’d, says Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer.

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Kia Pro_cee’d

Price: 1.6 CRDi SE, £19,595 on the road (range from £16,495 with customer saving until June 30)

Engine: 1.6-litre, 126bhp, four-cylidner turbo diesel

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving front wheels

Performance: 0-60mph 10.5 seconds; top speed 122mph

Economy: 65.7mpg

CO2 emissions: 112g/km

Most people will view Kia as a maker of sensible and practical cars. There’s certainly nothing wrong with such a perception, and the Korean company has achieved a considerable amount of success on the back of such a plan.

Sporty cars haven’t really figured in Kia’s grand plan, however a three-door version of the company’s Cee’d family hatch has helped to soften the car-maker’s image and hasn’t done any harm in the pursuit of the youth vote.

The Pro_cee’d three-door is a different proposition to its five-door relative, with the looks and appeal to make people sit up, take notice and do a double take as they clock the badge. And it’s not a rehashed family hatch, either. With a noticeably lower and sportier stance, the car’s fresh lines demonstrate a more distinctive profile.

Kia will first be the first to admit that the Pro_cee’d is not a hot-hatch – it’s got a plan to address that failing with a range of more aggressive models. What this car does is tempt buyers seeking the visual appeal of something sporty-looking but without the extra associated costs of something rapid and, often, costly to run.

Boasting a similar engine line-up to the five-door Cee’d, the Pro_cee’d is never going to worry the genuine hot-hatches. But with a 1.6-litre diesel engine it does offer a refined and relatively economical experience. The diesel’s 126bhp plays the 1.6-litre petrol motor’s 133bhp, but the extra torque and better fuel economy ensures a pleasingly rewarding driving experience. Both cars will hit 62mph in around 10 seconds, but the prospect of a low, tax-friendly CO2 rating should have you leaning towards the diesel.

If the Pro_cee’d boasts a racy exterior, Kia fans will instantly feel at home in the car’s cabin thanks to its similarities with the five-door Cee’d. That’s no bad thing, as the Cee’d boasts a distinctive and stylish dash and centre console layout that works well.

The rest of the interior has been restyled to suit the three-door’s needs. The interior dimensions have been carefully crafted, the rear seats offer generous legroom and getting to them is less of a problem than with some three-door rivals. Headroom isn’t in short supply either, despite the lower profile roofline, and the seats are comfortable in all trim levels.

Good levels of standard kit, again mirroring that of the five-door car, ensure any hint of a compromise has been banished for good and position the Pro_cee’d on the same footing as its more established European rivals. Key to this is Kia’s focus on active and passive safety kit plus all the usual comfort and convenience kit we’ve come to expect at this price point.

Factor in a generous seven-year warranty plus keen pricing for proof that Kia is deadly serious about making its mark in the growing affordable three-door hatchback market.

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