Kia Proceed: More stylish by degrees
Kia has re-imagined its Proceed as a sleek five-door coupe-meets-estate. It's an intriguing alternative to the ranks of SUVs, says William Scholes
YOU can tell the good folk at Kia must be bursting with confidence and ambition for the simple reason that the car on these pages exists at all, writes William Scholes.
I mean, just look at it. It looks great, doesn't it? It is called the Proceed, and no-one does anything like it in the family car market.
Some might point to the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake, though I wouldn't.
The two cars are conceptually similar - a sort of sleek mash-up of coupe-meets-hatchback-meets-estate - but the Mercedes is priced well beyond its abilities and front-wheel-drive Mercs are, in my experience, best avoided.
There's more than a hint of the - much larger, and much more expensive - Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo to the Kia, particularly around the tailgate.
It tells you all you need to know about Kia's progression that its latest mid-£20k family wagon stands comparison with a £75k-plus Porsche...
Some readers may also see echoes of the rare and short-lived Lexus IS Sport Cross in the Proceed's profile.
This isn't the first time that Kia has used the Proceed name. It used to belong to the three-door version of the Ceed hatch.
The last Proceed was notable for a vast boot and, once you flipped forward a front seat, a cavernous rear passenger compartment. Climbing in there, particularly for a child, was like entering the Aillwee Cave in the Burren.
Kia has gone a different way this time. The three-door is no more, so the Ceed family now consists of five-door hatch, a five-door estate called the Sportswagon and this, the repurposed and reshaped Proceed.
There's more than a hint of the - much larger, and much more expensive - Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo to the Kia, particularly around the tailgate. It tells you all you need to know about Kia's progression that its latest mid-£20k family wagon stands comparison with a £75k-plus Porsche...
The Ceed Sportswagon is a handsome enough device already, so you may wonder why Kia has seen fit to offer another estate-ish body style on the same platform.
First, I think, because it can. Rival manufacturers are busy trying to plug gaping holes in their line-ups by sorting out SUVs, hybrids and electric cars. But Kia has been well ahead of the game on all these fronts, so it feels it can ease its way into new niches.
Second, it is on a mission to make its cars more desirable, more aspirational. The fabulous Stinger sports GT was a calling card, and the Proceed is another. Kia would prefer you to buy one or the other, but even if you don't, doesn't the fact they exist at all make you think differently about the brand?
And third, Kia thinks there is a market for a car like this. It is for folk who can't bring themselves to drive an SUV, but do want a bit of estate car practicality with none of the more prosaic and utilitarian associations that style of vehicle holds, at least in some people's minds. A niche, as I mentioned earlier.
Kia puts it like this: "The Proceed takes the Ceed model family in a bold new direction.
"Where the Ceed Sportswagon majors on practicality, the Proceed provides couples or young families with the space and versatility of a wagon, combined with an emotive, swept-back design.
"Where focusing on one of these normally compromises the other, the Proceed is the first car in the mainstream segment to combine both."
Someone with a protractor has measured the angles of the rear windscreen of the three cars: the Ceed hatchback's is 52.4 degrees off-vertical, the Sportwagon's 50.9 degrees and the Proceed's is, says Kia, "more horizontal", and angled at 64.2 degrees.
On such fine degrees of difference do these things hang.
Staying in measuring mode, the Proceed is a scant 5mm longer than the Sportwagon but a more substantial 43mm lower.
The wheelbase is the same 2,650mm as that of its siblings, meaning this is a notably capacious car for its size-class.
The sleek tailgate treatment means the Proceed's boot isn't as voluminous as the Sportswagon's - 625 litres plays 594 litres - though that is still plenty, in my book.
It has the same versatility though, thanks to split-folding rear seats, underfloor storage, bag hooks and so on.
Beyond the effect of its different glazing, the Proceed's cabin is essentially the same as that found in the Ceed and Sportswagon.
The Proceed copes with everyday trundling and commuting with ease but there is also enough depth to the chassis engineering to make this a fun car to punt along a favourite road
That means it is rather good - solidly built, with an exemplary dashboard layout, clear dials and idiot-proof infotainment.
As befits the Proceed's style-led positioning, it is offered only in Kia's more upmarket trims, so you can choose from GT-Line and GT-Line S as well as a GT model, which is the most overtly sporting version.
GT-Line has the widest engine and gearbox mix - 1.4-litre petrol (138bhp, 179lb.ft) and 1.6-litre diesel (134bhp, 207lb.ft) with either six-speed manual or seven-speed double-clutch automatic gearboxes. The diesel auto benefits from a brawnier 236lb.ft torque figure.
The GT-Line S comes only as a 1.4-litre petrol auto while the GT gets a 1.6-litre turbo with 201bhp and 196lb.ft.
I am not sure why you would buy a GT-Line S over a GT, though - at £28,690, it is the most expensive model, though slower and barely any more frugal than the £28,140 GT.
GT-Line cars start at £23,840 and rise to £25,790.
All models are well equipped, loaded with safety gadgetry and, in Kia tradition, the only significant option is premium paint, at £570.
The Proceed drives with the same polish as the Ceed hatchback which impressed earlier this year.
It copes with everyday trundling and commuting with ease but there is also enough depth to the chassis engineering to make this a fun car to punt along a favourite road.
It is worth mentioning just how frugal the Proceed is in real world driving - 50mpg is an impressive return.
The Proceed, then, manages to be both sensible and stylish. If an SUV definitely isn't for you - and maybe even if you are considering one - then make sure you take a closer look at Kia's sleek 'shooting brake'.
AT A GLANCE
Kia Proceed 1.6 CRDi GT-Line
Price: £24,690. As tested £25,260, with premium paint at £570
Engine and transmission: 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel turbo, front-wheel-drive, six-speed manual gearbox; 134bhp, 207lb.ft
Performance: Top speed 124mph, 0-60mph in 10.0 seconds
Fuel consumption and CO2: 56.5mpg (WLTP combined), 50.7mpg (real world), 111g/km
Car tax: £210 in first year, then £145 annually
Benefit in kind: 27 per cent
Euro Ncap safety rating: Not yet tested