Kia will eventually offer a performance version of its new three-door Proceed hatchback, but this is unlikely to join the line-up before the car's mid-life facelift sometime in the next two years.

Insiders have said the platform is more than capable of handling a power plant in excess of 180bhp and have played around with suspension settings which give the car impressive grip and handling.

One Kia engineer said: "There is agreement at the highest level that a performance version of the Proceed would give us a great halo product, but we have to find the time the develop it properly."

Less likely is a production version of the Ceed convertible concept seen at last September's Frankfurt motor show.

Company insiders said that if the project were to go ahead it would have to be contracted out to a specialist manufacturer as there is insufficient production availability at Kia's production plant in Slovakia, now making three body styles plus the recently introduced Sportage SUV.