MOTORS REVIEW: KIA ProCeed
With Korean sister brand, Hyundai, having taken the hot hatch sector by storm with its debut i30 N last year there was clearly a desire to continue to expand the once budget-focussed brand into more ambitious territory.
Breaking the mould for the sector and neatly side-stepping a head-on clash with the incoming Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen’s Golf GTI, is this — the Kia Proceed GT.
Prices start at £23,840 for the distinctive “shooting brake” (think of it as a blend of coupe and estate) in 140PS GT Line guise, but the version tested here is the range-topping 1.6-litre GDi 204PS-engined GT, which backs-up the exterior’s sweeping silhouette with more in the way of performance.
Sitting 43 mm lower than the Sportswagon (estate) version of the Ceed hatchback, with a ground clearance reduced by some 5mm, the Proceed looks every bit the sporty estate out on the road.
While the front end is fairly familiar Ceed fayre, there are hints of Volkswagen Scirocco and even Porsche Macan in what is a broad and smoothly sculpted rear end, flanked by a pair of sleek chrome exhausts.
In GT trim, there are 18-inch alloys and deep side skirts which accentuate the ground-hugging appearance of a car that actually blends practicality and performance effectively thanks to its sheer length’s (4,605mm) ability to accommodate a 594-litre boot.
Equipped with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, Kia claims the GT will reach 60mph in a swift 7.2 seconds on the way to a top speed of 140mph.
Claimed fuel economy is 39.3mpg alongside 142g/km CO2 emissions.
Based on the underpinnings of the Ceed hatchback, the Proceed is front-wheel-drive — unlike the dynamicallyblessed Stinger — and delivers a chassis balance familiar to those stepping-up from the Ceed hatchback.
The GT’s suspension may well prove a little too stiff for many families but it has enough damping polish to take the edge of most road imperfections.
This ensures that it turns-in accurately and serves up impressive grip on a twisty road.
If anything, the longer rear overhang of the Proceed also means that more weight is transferred over the rear tyres, resulting in greater mid-corner adjustability.
This is basically a fairly large family car that can be hustled when the mood takes and proves unexpectedly keen to bite the tarmac and respond to being taken by the scruff.
That 1.6-litre engine lacks ultimate character, though.
Despite a bassy soundtrack which communicates something meatier than a turbocharged 1.6-litre unit, the performance can feel a little thin.
As such, it never feels like it’s a car that will compete among the sector’s genuine hot hatches.
The Proceed does deliver something else, though, and that’s a very nicely finished interior and a very premium- looking standard specification.
Kia’s new heated black leather and suede sports seats, finished with red stitching and featuring an embroidered “GT2” logo and a heated steering wheel, are further complemented by stainless steel pedals and a sculpted leather steering wheel like the one found in the Stinger.
An eight-inch satnav and infotainment display tops a dash cantered towards the driver and among the other technology on board is a semi-autonomous Lane Following Assist (LFA), capable of steering the car in its lane on the motorway while using external sensors and the cruise control system to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front, a Blind Spot Collision Warning (BCW), Smart Parking Assist System (SPAS), and pedestrian detection.
While it might not be the last thing in performance car thrills, the Proceed GT will make a compelling option for families keen to turn away from an SUV and inject a little style and speed into their lives.
Away from the Kia Stinger, it may well be Hyundai is forging ahead with the real driver appeal in this part of the market, but for a taste of premium packaging and a unique design encompassing estate car practicality, Kia is delivering where other manufacturers fear to tread.