Review: 2013 Kia pro_cee'd



Kamils’ review of the remarkably good Optima started off with an emotionally charged tale of heartbreak involving a Honda Civic and a beautiful girl. I’m afraid this review doesn’t. I’m going to start mine by talking about balls.

Beach balls, actually. When I was little I would be taken away on holiday to Cornwall, year after year. With the geography it possesses, in Englands’ most Westerly county you’re never far from a beach, and that means a great many tourist shops, all selling the same thing. Buckets and spades, beach balls, as you enter these shops your nostrils flare and fill with the rich scent of new, cheap rubber dinghies and the slow decomposition of low grade plastics.

All these memories were triggered the first time I sat in a Kia Rio.

Today, in this brand new Kia, there is no olfactory nostalgia. There are actually no reminders of the past at all.

It’s a silly name, pro_cee’d. It’s baffling that Kia should choose that moniker, cee’d being bad enough already. Names are important, and I hope this one doesn’t make for too much of a handicap especially when sister company Hyundai’s naming strategy, though vague, isn’t daft.


First thing I found myself thinking when I strolled around the pro_cee’d was how unexpectedly terrific it looks. From the “tiger nose” that has become Kias signature under the direction of Peter Schreyer, through the taut flanks and those unnecessary but enjoyable bulges in the door surface, through to the broad hips and shapely arse end. This is a genuinely attractive motor car. And not just for a Kia.

The colour, a retina-scorching pearlescent orange, draws the eye even if the shape didn’t, which it did. Selecting such a colour is a high-risk strategy on any car with uncertain proportions, but here it works just fine. I’m going to go further here, and say that the pro_cee’d (the Kia people don’t capitalize it) stands out rather successfully from some of the consumer-clinic-bland offerings in its class. I rather like it.

Previously, when a Korean car has just about got its act together on the outside it has all rather fallen apart when you investigate the interior. If it wasn’t the styling it was the layout, if it wasn’t the plastic quality it was the feel, and more often than not it would smell of rotting vinyl. Being honest, my expectations for the pro_cee’d weren’t high; if the thing at least seemed contemporary I’d have been pleased. I now feel like a complete idiot.


Sitting behind the wheel of the new Kia was little short of a revelation. My hands patrolled the dashboard and doors, inside and out, even probing the little crevices that fingers should never enter in search for nasties, which I never found. Try as I did, I never made contact with anything that any European models would feel particularly ashamed by. The steering wheel itself, handsomely leather wrapped and precisely stitched, and bedecked with more than enough control buttons, felt excellent in the hands. The view through it at the heavily styled gauges, was clear. The dials themselves are free of embarrassment, although I can’t remember ever seeing a fuel gauge the same size as a rev-counter before.


Generally, the whole dashboard is a pleasant sight to behold. The plastics are either soft-touch, chrome-effect or piano-gloss, depending on where you look. The minor switchgear is perfectly up-to-task, and the lavish navitainment display in this posh SE model seems well implemented and features suitably swoopy proprietary graphics. They’ve even got that right. If I could grumble, and I have to find something, I could say that the LCDs for the clock and HVAC control panel are a bit behind the times. But so what?

I was reserving final judgement for when it came to take the pro_cee’d onto the track, really hoping to pick yawning chasms in it and yet again I was disappointed. There is literally nothing you could possibly want to complain about.


It offers the exact same driving experience that sits at the core of any well-sorted European hatchback. It goes without saying that there is masses of grip, thanks to big wheels with fashionably phat tyres, the resultant stickiness doing much to offset the natural understeer that’s engineered into the chassis. The turn-in isn’t ultra crisp, but then there isn’t enough feedback through the steering to confirm it anyway. There is, mind, plenty of weight at the helm; enough that it feels like you’re putting a bit of effort into your wheel-twirling antics. The manual gearbox is fast, too; with a foolproof, swift, slick slice through the ratios.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think that this was a really nice handling car. I’d say that for a huge number of Saturday-evening TV watching, music-chart-listening, instant-coffee drinking young drivers this is all the driving experience they could possibly want, or understand.

It actually reminded me of the new Mercedes A-Class, a car which absolutely doesn’t reward the enthusiastic driver; but feels so nice while it isn’t doing so.


I was crestfallen when I returned to the Kia hospitality suite after giving the pro_cee’d a through evaluative shakedown on the Hill route,  totally failing to find any glaring incompetencies. And then, as I engaged reverse up popped a reversing camera on the centre screen. This was a feature I would have no more expected the Kia to offer than a dishwasher.

When Kia first made English shores, it was with Pride. The Kia Pride, a Koreanised Mazda 121, faithfully reproduced right down to fake plastic stitching on the early 80’s theme dashboard. It even had whitewall tyres, presumably fitted to encourage ridicule. That the pro_cee’d should have evolved from that is like finding that the lithe, sleek blonde you fell in love with and married, started life as the ginger-haired girl in your pre-school who ate worms and smelled of processed meat.


These days there’s increasingly less to mark Kias out as anything other than a competent, mainstream, desirable cars, albeit ones whose prices are creeping upwards. After my stint in this one I began to accept that these cars are becoming logical choices rather than just budget alternatives. And with the pro_cee’d somewhat resembling the VW Scirocco from the rear, why buy one of those when this has a better interior?

If you’re that worried about image, hide the badges. This Kia deserves to succeed. This cee’d doesn’t suck.

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36 responses to “Review: 2013 Kia pro_cee'd”

  1. calzonegolem Avatar

    I've got nothing to add here.
    <img src=""&gt;

    1. racer139 Avatar

      Can sombody answer me this? Why the hell is it now rude to link to a pic or post it directly now. Instead of a nice pic of awesome whatever you get some crank yelling at you. is greed or what?

      1. wunno sev Avatar
        wunno sev

        it's use of the host's server bandwidth (which is not free) but it doesn't provide traffic (ie ad views, ie revenue for the host).

      2. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

        I've seen this behavior wax and wane in widespreadity a few times. A few years ago nobody really cared, but now it's on the upswing again.

      3. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        I don't see the moral issue unless you're trying to make money with it or claim it as yours, at which point the owner has not only the right but the obligation to replace it with, oh, for instance, a stuffed rabbit with prominent genitals.


    I really wish they'd sell the pro_cee'd GT here in the States. It's a damn good looking little car. I'd take that in a heartbeat over the Veloster. And I think it would give them a great contender in the hot hatch segment, which Hyundai/Kia currently don't really have. Why do they continue to not bring things like this to America?

    1. Devin Avatar

      Isn't the Forte basically a cee'd with a different badge? Unless you're referring to the 3-door hatch shape, in which case I haven't a clue.

      1. CABEZAGRANDE Avatar

        But the Forte is kind of plain. This looks kind of amazing. If it's to be the same car, I'd rather have the prettier wrapper.
        But are they the same? I thought the Cee'd was somewhat smaller.
        But yes, I wish everyone would bring over the 3-door hatches. Ford with the Fiesta ST, Kia with the pro_cee'd, Volvo with the V40.

        1. dukeisduke Avatar

          The new Forte is an improvement.

      2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        I'd say from the dimensional specs, they're related, but certainly not identical.
        <img src=""&gt;

        1. mseoul Avatar

          Isn't there a new Forte 5 door coming to the US? That should be the Ceed. I saw someplace where they are keeping the multi-link rear suspension on the Forte (Ceed) US version too, with the plan to offer it as a hot hatch with the 1600 GDI turbo engine. And yes, not much reason to pay more for a GTI with an un-cancelable stability system.

          1. mseoul Avatar

            As I thought: here is link to "upcoming" US market Ceed-Forte

  3. dukeisduke Avatar

    WTH does that name mean, anyway?

    1. julkinen Avatar

      I think they had pro_lapse'd judgement.

      1. Jay_Ramey Avatar

        I'm waiting for them to kick it up a notch with their naming one of these days and use an umlaut.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      From the enyclopedic site that is Wiki-ish:
      "The Cee’d is Kia’s first European designed and built car. The company says that it’s a European car for European people and it won’t be on sale in other parts of the world. To mark the occasion, Kia took the initials of the European Economic Community, EEC or CEE in some places and added ED for European Design. Sensibly realising that CEEED was an ‘E’ too far, they replaced one of them with an apostrophe, thus giving us cee’d and always in lower case."

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Excee'dingly contrived. Worse than Korea Can Do becoming Korando.

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          What? Communauté Economique Européenne European Design is such a perfectly logical name for a car, just too darn long.

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            EEC Workers' Playtime was already taken:
            <img src="; width="400">
            (Electrical Engineering Construction Co., Ltd., not European Economic Community.)

      2. dukeisduke Avatar


  4. Devin Avatar

    It's nice that the Koreans aren't making little shame boxes anymore, but legitimate contenders. I just bought a Hyundai Elantra GT, on purpose, because I liked it more than a lot of other things I could buy, and it was cheap besides. It's not a perfect car – the gearing is rather silly, the victim of fuel economy targets – but it's really tight and quite nice inside and out.

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar

      Friend of mine drives an older 5-door Elantra. It's really not a bad car.

    2. racer139 Avatar

      Is it an auto box? If so just drive the hell outta it, it will keep getting better and better. My mother has a 12 civic that she complained about slow sloppy shifting. I took it for a drive and agreed, and told her to drive it a bit harder. It worked and it shifts a bunch better and does not hesitate as bad but still has some which makes it a bit of a pain on on ramps.

      1. Devin Avatar

        Manual. In town it's pretty good, but 5th and 6th are spaced really weird to get mileage. One must downshift to fourth to pass anyone.

  5. stickmanonymous Avatar

    Posting a lot of Kia reviews at the moment, aren't you?

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Total coincidence, I assure you. The keys were just sitting there.

    2. Kamil_K Avatar

      Yea, there is absolutely not rhyme or reason as what cars we review and when, or even where, such as the case here.
      And there is certainly not rhyme or reason of how we feel about them.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        Rhyme and reason are both overrated. I am 100% against their inclusion here, especially together.

  6. Kamil_K Avatar

    Duudddeeee…. the steering wheel is on the Rong side!

  7. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    I refuse to pronounce it any way other than how Jeremy Clarkson does ("cee-apostrophe-d").

    1. Kamil_K Avatar

      Duuuuddeeee… this is "pro-underscore-cee-apostrophe-dee"

      1. Jay_Ramey Avatar

        I think other companies should also adopt the approach of naming their models by hitting a keyboard with their fist.

  8. HTWHLS Avatar

    dumbass name..

  9. Kepler Avatar

    Did those wheels immediately strike anyone else as decidedly phallic?

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      Not until you pointed it out, but now, uh…