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Reap the harvest of Korea's latest crop.

Byline: By Edward Stephens MOTORING EDITOR

THE ceed is growing - and a different group of people will soon be able to reap the harvest.

Kia has just launched the latest version of the ceed family aimed at 20 to 30-year-old singles, couples and so called empty nesters - 50-plus couples whose children have flown the nest. The procee'd is the three door version of the cee'd family and the most stunning model yet from the Korean car maker.

The name may be odd but the car is one which is about to get Kia noticed like never before.

It's a clear indication of how the company is moving from selling purely on price and value to selling by producing enticing, exciting cars.

A move from "supply push to demand pull" according to sales director Yaser Shabsogh.

The procee'd does for Kia what Astra Sport did for the Vauxhall Astra family hatchback - by being a far more eye-catching, more appealing model.

It's not designed to be a hot hatch - although a hot hatch version could follow - but it is designed to be overtly sporty.

With its fine tuned lowered suspension, high waist and rakish roofline it is certainly a car which makes people look twice, as I found out on the recent press launch of the car.

And with prices starting from pounds 12,295 for the 1.6-litre, 124 bhp model - a 1.4-litre at pounds 11,795 will follow later - this is a five seater which comes at a sensible price.

At the top end of the price scale the flagship 2.0-litre Sport will cost you pounds 15,495. Surprisingly the 3-door costs the same as the existing 5-door cee'd hatchback because unlike 3-door models from most manufacturers the procee'd is a model in its own right - being longer, lower and lighter than the 5-door.

What it does share is Kia's industry leading seven-year, 100,000-mile 'bumper to bumper' warranty. Surprisingly, given the economies of scale needed by manufacturers, the only panels shared by the 3-door and 5-door models are the bonnet and front wings.

Designed and strongly influenced by Kia's new European design team specifically for the European market the 3-door coupe has a strong presence on the road, with the 3-door Sport in white being the most distinctive, thanks partly to its dark privacy glass and 17-inch alloys.

The procee'd is available in three specs; procee'd2, procee'd3 and Sport but even the base model is well equipped coming with features which include 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric front windows, central locking and an alarm.

The Sport is only available with the 2.0-litre engine while the 2 and 3 are available with both the 1.6-petrol and 1.6-diesel. The latter comes as either an 89 bhp powerplant or 124 bhp and it's this diesel which is the latest engine in the Kia line-up.

On the road the 1.6 petrol is light to drive, easy to manoeuvre has a slick gearbox and offers great value for money.

But for me the diesel engines were the most rewarding to drive. Both the 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels have all the attributes of the petrol but are more punchy, silky smooth and - from behind the wheel - amongst the most UNdiesel like cars around.

The 1.6 in particular is particularly refined and you would swear you were driving a petrolpowered car - except that not many petrol cars of this engine size will average around 60 mpg as this one does.

The higher performance diesel that I drove has a top speed of 117 mph and will hit 62 mph in 13.5 seconds, although it's its mid range performance which is the most impressive.

In comparison the 2.0- litre diesel averages 50.4 mpg., has a top speed of 127 mph and hits 62 mph in 10.1 seconds.

Opt for the 1.6 petrol and you will average 44 mpg, reach 62 mph in 10.8 seconds and go on to a top speed of 116 mph. Kia anticipates that the best seller will be the 1.6-diesel in white. Despite its tapering roof line this coupe offers plenty of rear headroom and an impressive amount of legroom in the rear with plenty of room for someone of average height like me to stretch my legs out.

While the inside of the procee'd feels far more sporty than that of the 5-door because of the roofline and narrower windows the dashboard is similar in looks and functionality.

The procee'd goes on sale today - and is bidding to take sales from the likes of Astra, Ford Focus and VW Golf. A tough job, but one it is more than capable of.

CAPTION(S):

DAZZLING DRIVE... the new three-door procee'd is the Korean car manufacturer's most impressive model to date.; STYLISH... inside the new Kia ceed three-door.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 1, 2008
Words:811
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