Gareth Butterfield tests Kia’s latest design highlight, the Proceed
IF Kia had launched its Proceed 10 years ago, the world would have done a collective double-take. Nowadays, it’s just another pretty car that’s been launched by the firm. But let’s not allow that to detract from it, because it’s a genuinely lovely thing to behold.
Cards on the table, I’m a sucker for a Shooting Brake, so I was besotted with the Proceed when I first clapped eyes on it.
A Shooting Brake is a relatively rare body style which blends coupe lines with the rear end of an estate car. So it’s a bit like opting for the practicality of an estate but without quite so much practicality.
OK, so you’ll be buying this car based more on its looks than its luggage space, but there’s actually still a 600 litre boot to be had, so don’t dismiss it just yet.
The only other downside I’ve found from its lovely lines (which echo the Porsche Panamera if you squint) is poor rear visibility. But thankfully reversing cameras will put out that little fire.
Inside there’s some interesting touches to set this out as a sporty little number. Coloured stitching on the comfy and supportive seats is a nice touch, for example, and the leather steering wheel is a delight.
Beyond that, it’s a bit predictable. A bit safe. Sure it all works quite well, and the buttons are easy to reach and understand, but the dull dashboard doesn’t really match up to the svelte exterior.
Of course the other downside to that swooping boot-line is the lack of headroom in the back. Adults will be fine, as long as they’re pretty short. Kids won’t be a problem. Beyond all this there’s little to dislike about the interior.
The pick of the bunch is definitely the desirable GT spec which serves up the rather lovely 210bhp 1.6-litre turbo engine and a DCT automatic gearbox.
This is by far the best combination for the Proceed, unless your happy to drive a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
The other options available are a 1.4-litre turbo petrol with 138bhp and a 1.6-litre diesel with 134bhp. These will both do a reasonable job of powering the front wheels and they’ll be cheap to run, but this car is at its best with a bit of poke.
Having said that, spirited driving isn’t the Kia’s strong suit. It’s not that its road manners aren’t adequate, it’s actually quite grippy and the steering’s great, but it’s the fact it always leaves you wanting more.
Oh, how I wish they’d bung the Stinger’s V6 engine in the Proceed. Then it’d be the exciting car it deserves to be. As it stands, it’s entertaining, but no hot hatch rival.
So where does that leave us? It’s very easy to recommend the Proceed, but I’m not sure who to.
If you want practicality, the standard Ceed’s pretty big and the Ceed Sportswagon is even bigger. If you want a sporty Kia, the Stinger GTS is still your best bet.
But if you’re like me and you only occasionally bundle adults in the back and, more often you’ll be using it to lug around a mountain bike or maybe just want space for a kayak on the roof, it’s absolutely fine.
If you want a car that looks good, is cheap to run, will swallow a weekly shop with ease and can cut a dash in a car park full of dull SUVs, then it’s definitely the car to buy.
Sadly, you’re a dying breed, but I’d salute you for seeking out an interesting and genuinely attractive niche car instead of settling for the hum-drum. And I’d be quite jealous, too.