Returned to sender

Our Kia returns from COTY relatively unscathed

ITíS LIKE finding your lost dog. The Proceed returned from COTY testing having now done more miles in the hands of Ďthe othersí than in my tender, sentimental care.

Iíd met her with fewer than 500 clicks on the clock and looked after her like a new pair of shoes, but now she was sporting the scars of adolescence and growing pains. That meant a few weird marks where the GT had been plastered with stickers and cameras and the like, bits of strange grass on the floor, while someone had switched off the auto-fold for the exterior mirrors. I love that function; when I get near the GT, its mirrors unfold like open arms, welcoming me into its cabin. At night, the puddle and door lights join in. Take note, BMW.

But wait, thereís something missing. Like a black eye, one of the bumper blanks has fallen out, leaving her like a pair of glasses with one lens.

Other than that, the Kia hasnít developed any bad habits after undergoing its COTY physical. There are no squeaks, rattles or loose interior pieces. The rear belts look a little stretched (Iíll never sit there anyway), but itís held up remarkably well. So, too, the fuel consumption. Its average is down to 8.4L/100km, which isnít bad considering itís had a thrashing.

Yet the GT has more to give. Robbo says it runs out of talent the harder you push it, and a chat to Kia Oz suggests this is not news. In fact, this car is like a one-bedroom flat or a stepping-stone job Ė there are better things to come. I think, though, that at $30K the regular version is outstanding value, and this Tech, which is mechanically identical to the regular GT but comes with sat-nav, softens the value equation.

BMW could also take note of the Kiaís ride quality. While itís built in Slovakia, the suspension tune is Australian-specific. The Korean customer doesnít need the GT to sit flat on bumpy roads at high speed; pot-holes have been banned in Korea. Yet our Aussie roads Ė despite speed camera revenue, barrels of cash from the fuel excise, and taxes on all things motoring Ė still punish suspension and spines.

So Kia Oz has reworked the Proceedís chassis (damping and spring rates), which has resulted in a supple ride, even on coarse and rough surfaces, as well as that high-speed stability. Thatís where Kia has triumphed; the GT is composed and well mannered.

That makes it all the more admirable that COTY didnít expose its fit and finish as a weakness, but a strength.

DAMION SMY

KIA PROCEED GT TECH

Date acquired: September 2014 tested: $33,490 month: 1192km @ 7.5L/100km 1953km @ 8.4L/100km acqui Price as te This mont Overall: 19

City smarts

I LOVE the reversing camera in the GT for two reasons: firstly, itís crisper than in many luxury cars, so you can actually see things, which means you can park millimetres from a wall. Secondly, its wide lens means it doesnít just look straight back, it lets you see cars coming from the left and right as well. Itís great for reversing out of busy city parking spots and reduces the risk of inattentive drivers wiping you off as you pull out.

DRAWING A BLANK

Missing headlightwasher cover and washer arm a casualty from GTís COTY gig. Cost $324.26 plus labour to fix