► We test the new Kia Proceed
► CAR reviews late prototype
► Now a shooting brake, not a GT
The Proceed GT fires up with an attention-seeking bark, its sports exhaust signalling this Kia is aimed at car enthusiasts. There’s plenty for aesthetes too: with its arcing roofline atop a crescent-shaped glasshouse, the slammed wagon has plenty of coupe style. There are more sporting design cues, from a red-tinged front grille that wouldn’t look out of place on a hot hatch to the gloss black tailgate spoiler at the other end.
In Kia parlance, the Proceed is a shooting brake, and the third member of the new Ceed family which will be sold alongside a traditional estate car with more luggage space. There’s nothing else like it from a mainstream car maker, though it takes ‘inspiration’ (more Kia parlance) from Mercedes-Benz’s CLA Shooting Brake. But with an expected list price starting around £24,000, that’s about £4k cheaper than a basic baby Benz wagon.
New 2019 Kia Proceed: broad range, lively exhaust
The Proceed will be available in three trim levels, GT-Line, GT-Line S and GT. GT-Line cars come with a choice of two engines: 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol (138bhp) or a 1.6-litre diesel (134bhp), coupled with six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The GT-Line S is strictly 1.4 petrol automatic only.
The flagship powerplant – Kia’s 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine in its highest state of turbocharged tune – is reserved for the GT version we’re driving in prototype form. Peak outputs are 201bhp and 195lb ft of torque, spinning the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s supremely effective, its broad spread of torque hustling the Proceed from stop to 62mph go in just 7.2secs, but sonorous it is not.
A whoosh of forced induction blends into threshing fourpot combustion, all the while accompanied by a blare from the exhaust, partly piped into the cabin via the speakers.
To these ears the exhaust falls between two stalls, trumpeting away too much during urban chipping about or a steady motorway cruise, and having too little personality when you’re going for it – a few pops and crckles on the over-run wouldn’t go amiss.
Great steering, tweaked chassis
The Proceed shares its architecture with the regular Ceed, with MacPherson struts up front, a multi-link rear axle and electric power-assisted rack and pinion steering. It’s a very nice set-up, feeling meaty and responsive as it carves through Provence’s mountainous B-roads. Don’t expect it to relay every tarmac nuance though.
Revisions from Ceed hatch to Proceed shooting brake include a body lowered by 5mm, stiffer springs all round, and softer anti-roll bars to help keep the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres in contact with the road. The body feels well lashed down in corners, with a taut ride that verges on the jarring at times. All the while the front wheels generate resolute grip – unless you’ve overdone it on the loud pedal and generated some torque steer.
That’s eminently possible, because throttle response can be a little hit and miss, sometimes responding to kick down with a flail of revs rather than whipcrack forward thrust. Similarly the steering wheel-mounted shift pads aren’t the snappiest, not helped by slightly wobbly action which can undermine a decisive press.
Let’s Proceed inside
The driving position is great, however, with the seat dropping nice and low. The controls are largely familiar from the Ceed, though the GT gets red stitching on the leather and suede sports seats and the steering wheel, plus black gloss trim panels. This black and red detailing mirrors the finish of the exterior sills, diffuser and front bumper. The GT rolls on 18-inch rims, whereas GT-Line cars get standard 17s and different exhaust pipe design.
The Proceed shares its wheelbase with its hatchback sibling. Two six-footers can sit inline with no knee rubbing on the driver’s seat back, and there’s sufficient headroom despite that rakish roofline. The electric tailgate swings open to reveal a wide boot stashing 594 litres of cargo – that’s only 31 litres down on the wagon. Pull handles enable you to drop the 40:20:40 split rear seats (standard on GT-Line S and GT) without having to wander round to the rear doors.
Standard equipment includes Bluetooth phone connectivity, automatic lights with high beam assist and keyless entry, plus lane keep assist and forward collision mitigation.
The previous-generation Proceed was a three-door hatch, but sales of such cars have dwindled so badly that Kia decided on a new approach. It’s largely successful: this sleek five-door wagon is very handsome and a rewarding steer, though it deserves better than this unremarkable 1.6-litre powertrain.
But if you’re in the market for something stylish, fresh and covered with a seven-year warranty, the Proceed is the only game in town.
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