The Melbourne Identity

Warming to a car, and a city

Damion Smy

OurGarage

MELBOURNE is said to be the most liveable city in the world. I donít know exactly how you measure that, but in terms of liveability itís the Proceed GTís congeniality thatís winning me over in this southern metropolis.

Even its lines, which make the Kia stand out in swathes of mundane car park metal, enable good all-round visibility. The fact that itís based on the five-door Ceed Ė a car not sold in Australia Ė gives it the DNA to handle the daily grind. It has excellent steering for parking, and manoeuvrability to avoid trams, traffic and dodge-balls in inner-city Melbourne. And Sydney.

The interstate haul mandated by a compulsory family Christmas gathering hasnít ruffled the GTís feathers. The long (boring) drive demonstrated the GTís flexibility as I develop more of a soft spot for this white hatch. The Recaros proved comfy and supportive over the entire distance, better than the flat-faced leather pews of the Kia Optima in which I made the same trip only six weeks earlier. The GT became a kind of transport capsule, my technological partner as we ventured into the wilderness between these two great cities, past Ned Kelly and the Dog on the Tuckerbox.

Double-points warnings from the NSW constabulary were no less daunting than Victoriaís notorious 3km/h tolerance. As I passed many fatigue warning signs, I thought of Ben Oliverís 130km/h venture and the two hours it lopped off the journey.

Thereís none of that on my trip. A staunch 110km/h was locked into the cruise control, which remained remarkably consistent up and down hills. The GTís air-con proved more than a match for temperatures over 30 degrees Ė not something that can be said for some other Euro long-termers Iíve had in the past. With maximum frost selected to avoid melting the chocolate gifts on board, my glasses steamed up when I stumbled out of the Kia for a rest stop.

The tailgate played host to my two nephews while parked at the beach, and they also found the sunroof an ample pop-top to poke their heads through. The tailgate doubled as a washing line and play area once the RC carsí batteries went flat.

The full air-con didnít help fuel consumption, though the Kiaís average has fallen, as youíd expect with a few thousand highway kays. Best result to date is 7.3L/100km on the highway with maximum air-con and fan speed, by the way, which compares to the official combined 7.4L/100km. Thatís a long way from the 6.2L/100km I extracted from a Mk6 Golf GTI manual on the same journey back in 2009.

Nevertheless, the GT still delivers a visual tickle every time I walk up to it and enough fun behind the wheel. Itís not a car that shows you its party trick and then bores you: itís always offering another feather from its cap. Kind of like Melbourne.

DAMION SMY

KIA PROCEED GT TECH

Date acquired: September 2014 Price as tested: $33,490 This month: 3750km @ 7.2L/100km Overall: 5703km @ 7.6L/100km DP T O

Catching the Tube

THE Michelins on the GT cost $250 apiece. I know that because the left-rear was punctured one Saturday morning. I had to remove it and fit the spacesaver, which was easy enough; the 17-inch alloy fitted neatly into the wheel well, and the Kia had all the necessary tools. Hats off to Kia, too: the on-board tyre pressure warning actually works as intended, unlike many VW Group products that, in my experience, tend to cry wolf.

NO TRUST

THE GTís sat-nav has sent me to several BP servos that turned out to be Shell, where my BP fuel card didnít work