While most of the UK was cloaked in a thick fug of choking smog last week, I was busy turning heads out on the streets of the East Midlands.
Okay, okay, I confess. People weren’t turning their heads to look at me. What was catching their eye was my ride for the week - Kia’s Pro_cee’d GT.
This little beauty is Kia’s, and indeed Korea’s, first foray into the hot hatch market.
The 1.6 litre engine produces 201bhp, which can propel the car from 0-60mph in an impressive 7.4 seconds, and give it a top speed of 143mph.
What is also hot is how it looks.
The Kia Pro_cee’d GT looks good. Really good.
Its stylish, sporty, and sleek sleek. It boasts 18” alloy wheels, chrome window surrounds, rear spoiler, daytime LED running lights, tinted windows, and twin exhausts.
If I was pernickety I would prefer a fin, rather than the stumpy little aerial atop the roof, but that is just a minor detail.
The overall look is impressive, and I certainly got more than a few envious looks.
Hell, it even looks good when covered in a thin layer of Saharan sand.
But, as we all know, looks can be deceptive. What is it actually like to drive?
The short answer is Fun with a capital F. Fun, and fast.
You put your foot down on the stainless steel accelerator and off it goes.
Before you know it you are in sixth gear and leaving everyone else on the dual carriageway trailing behind.
Do you like those lovely little butterflies you get in your stomach you get when you go over a sudden dip? If you do then you’ll be more than satisfied with the punch the Pro_cee’d GT packs.
It doesn’t lose any of this fizz even up steep hills, corners well, and all in all is very comfortable and easy to drive.
Even in April’s heaviest of showers it handles extremely well, with plenty of grip.
As you can imagine with this sort of performance, fuel economy isn’t exactly frugal, offering a combined 38.2mpg. But then again, fuel frugality is not the reason you buy a GT.
The interior isn’t quite as dazzling as the exterior, but it is stylish enough.
It features sporty part leather Recaro front seats, leather steering wheel, and leather gear shift.
To be honest, My chunky thighs didn’t really get on with the Recaro seats, I found them a bit restrictive, but this is more to do with me spending too much time with my fridge than it is the car.
You’ll enjoy the dashboard, it’s a bit like a mini-version of Blackpool illuminations, featuring as it does a speed and multi-function LCD full colour display, including a GT performance display option.
As someone who loves music, the six-speaker sound system packs a decent punch, with good clarity.
Also a must for music lovers, the car includes USB and AUX ports for hooking up to your MP3 player.
Being an iPod Touch owner, I was relieved to discover this device is compatible with the Pro_cee’d GT - something that can’t be said for some other cars I could mention.
Other features include air conditioning, power lumbar support, steering wheel mounted controls, Bluetooth, and reversing sensors.
In addition to this there is plenty of room to fit three in the back - although it might be a bit of a squeeze if they all have thighs as big as mine - and the boot is reasonably spacious and features a cargo net which is handy.
So, how much would you have to pay for all this? Well, it’s not as much as you might think.
You can pick up the Kia Pro_cee’d GT for £19,995, which is £6,000 cheaper than the Golf GTI for example.
If you want a car that packs some fizz and has the stand-out looks and functionality to match, but don’t want to spend more than £20k, then Kia’s debut hot hatch could very well be the car for you.
Engine: 1.6 litre
0-60mph: 7.4 seconds
Top Speed: 143mph
Max power: 201bhp