Sexy car from Kia shock!
That’s right. When Peter Schreyer (who oversaw the design of the original Audi TT and new Beetle in his time at the VW group) took over as head of design for the Koreans he identified correctly that the firm needed a halo car - essentially a Kia that would turn people on. Well, this is it, the first Kia he’s wafted his magic pen over and probably not by coincidence about the only current-generation Korean car that gets the blood pumping a bit quicker. It’s by no means outrageous, but the Excee’d is certainly a more adventurous take on a potential production car than Kia has managed in a good while.
Agreed it looks good - but it’s only a convertible version of the Ceed hatch, isn’t it?
Essentially, yes. It’s actually based on the three-door Proceed that will make its debut later this year. It’s got short overhangs front and rear to give it a much more aggressive stance on the road than previous Kias. And the grille is far less anodyne than the front of the Ceed, giving the car a bit more character. Only the slab sides are a bit of a letdown. Even some chrome detailing and insets towards the bottom of the door can’t disguise that.
It still looks prettier than some of its potential rivals though
Schreyer is a fan of folding soft tops rather than folding hard tops. He thinks they appeal to drivers’ emotions more. And technology has advanced to the point where they’re as hushed, refined and waterproof as hard tops when raised - and they're naturally cheaper. But those are probably incidental points to Kia's design boss. He’s a designer and the most appealing thing about soft tops is that you can draw a car with a practical boot that doesn’t have a rear deck the size of an aircraft carrier.
What engine does it have?
If it gets the production go-ahead, Kia would probably provide it with a choice of 1.6- and 2.0-litre petrol power. The prototype we tried was fitted with a 2.0-litre petrol engine that we don’t get currently in the UK. It wasn’t short of grunt. The speed on our test was limited to 40mph, but Kia didn’t limit the time it took to reach that. The engine delivers its maximum torque at 4600rpm and it pulls strongly in the low gears. In concept car form, the exhaust note was quite rorty under acceleration but it settled down at speed.
What’s the Excee'd like on the road?
It’s actually remarkably civilised. Even though this is a concept car designed primarily for display purposes at glitzy motor show parties, they’ve obviously engineered it very thoroughly (always a sure-fire indicator that something is destined for production). There was no shake, rattle and roll and the ride was remarkably composed over bumps. With the roof down, there was minimal buffeting, even with the side windows lowered. As for handling, it’s difficult to tell from a concept car what the finished article will be like, but it’ll probably be aimed at posers rather than performance drivers. It didn't exactly thrill on our low-speed runs, but it won't embarrass you either.
What about behind the wheel?
The Exceed’s interior shows us exactly what owners of the Proceed can expect in the way of dials and switches later this year. The clocks in the main instrument binnacles could do with being a little less frantic to look at, but apart from that everything’s logically positioned. The chocolate brown leather look won’t appeal to everybody but at least it’s distinctive, and the centre console struts on either side of the gear lever hint a bit too much at the Audi TT for my liking. But it’s a much more pleasurable place to be than most Korean cars. This is the best sign yet that the Koreans are advancing at an impressive rate; the Europeans should be worried with this showing...
Kia has yet to give the Exceed the go-ahead, but if it does it should offer worthwhile competition to the Ford Focus CC and Vauxhall Astra TwinTop. It doesn’t really move the convertible game on but it moves Kia’s position in the market on a great deal. We expect the Procee'd to get the green light and it should be slightly cheaper than its major rivals. Judging by the quality of the concept – the tightness of the shutlines was just as impressive as the production hatchback’s – buyers could actually have a Kia to be proud of in the Exceed.