By Ronan Glon
Monday, Jan 28th, 2013 @ 4:04 am

Kia has released the first official images of the 2013 pro_cee'd GT, a hot hatch aimed at the iconic Volkswagen GTI. Based on the regular pro_cee'd, the car was designed to boost Kia's image on the European market and lure younger buyers into showrooms.

The pro_cee'd GT has been given a sporty exterior treatment by Peter Schreyer, the brand's former design chief and current president. The modifications include aggressive bumpers on both ends, a race-inspired plastic mesh grille up front and aerodynamic side skirts. Four-point LED daytime running lights and unique 18-inch wheels finish off the look.

The pictures released by Kia reveal very little about the pro_cee'd GT's cockpit but the South Korean automaker promises that Recaro bucket seats, alloy pedals and a complete instrumentation are part of the deal.

Under the hood lies the same turbocharged 1.6-liter four-banger that powers the Hyundai Veloster Turbo. Linked to a six-speed manual transmission, the mill sends 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque to the front set of wheels, enabling the GT to sprint from zero to 62 mph in 7.9 seconds.

A sport-tuned suspension setup makes the GT more responsive to drive and upgraded brakes on all four corners keep the extra ponies in check.

After greeting the show-going public at the Geneva Motor Show next March, the pro_cee'd GT will hit showrooms across Europe in the second half of 2013. It will quickly be joined by the cee'd GT, a five-door hatchback that will be nearly identical to its smaller sibling under the skin.

Whether or not a performance-oriented hatchback similar to the GT models will travel to the United States is not currently known.

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