If you're torn between a coupe and a hatch and prioritise style in a compact family car, Kia's Proceed could fit the bill. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Once a small coupe, Kia's Proceed is now a small estate - but a very stylish one. The brand has chosen to supplement its existing Ceed SW station wagon with this swoopier Proceed 'shooting brake' model to create a 'Fastback' look with that 'want one' factor. The brand promises that the drive dynamics will match the aesthetic promise too.
Kia calls this Proceed a 'Shooting Brake'. Isn't that just another word for an 'estate car'? Well no, not really. A Shooting Brake, in contrast, is more of an occasional and much more stylised load-lugger, loved by sportsman - and especially shooting parties (hence the name) - from the 1950s and 1960s, particularly here in Britain. A kind of 'estate coupe' if you like, which is why virtually all 'shooting brake' designs from the last century had only three doors. Princess Anne's Reliant Scimitar GTE from the Seventies was one of these, with similar cars like the Lancia Beta HPE, the Jaguar XJS Lynx Eventer and the Volvo 1800ES dating from the same era.
In more recent times, the 'Shooting Brake' concept has made a comeback with designs like Ferrari's FF. But you'll know it better perhaps from two Mercedes models, 'Shooting Brake' versions of that Stuttgart brand's CLS and CLA models. It was the CLA Shooting Brake that prompted Kia to produce this stylish Ceed derivative.
Gone are the days when Kia was content to merely try and reach a minimum class standard when it comes to drive dynamics. Ex-BMW M-Chief Albert Biermann, Kia's Head of handling development, spent six months with his team fine-tuning this Proceed and the brand promises that you'll feel the difference, even on a very short test drive. There are three engine choices - a 134bhp 1.6 CRDi diesel and a couple of T-GDi petrol units, a 138bhp 1.4 and a 201bhp 1.6. Engine noise is enhanced by a soundtrack emphasised through flaps in the exhaust and delivered into the cabin through the stereo speakers.
There are firmer shocks and springs for the all-independent suspension than you'd get on a mere ordinary Ceed. But the roadway demeanour's kept from being too brittle by the adoption of softer anti-roll bars than you'd get on that shopping rocket variant. Transmission-wise, there's a choice of either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DCT dual-clutch auto with alloy paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. You have to have that DCT 'box with the top petrol engine.
If you're going to sell on style, you have to make an effort and, sure enough, the Proceed shares only the front wings and bonnet with other Ceed body styles. The roof line is 43mm lower than on an ordinary Ceed SW estate and 5mm longer, plus the windscreen is 1.5-degrees more steeply-raked and the rear window is slanted 65-degrees off the vertical. There's more aggressive styling to the front bumper than you'd see on any ordinary Ceed. And what the designers call a 'coast to coast' look for the rear that unites the LED tail lamps with the double exhaust pipes. There are 17-inch wheels with 'GT-Line' trim - or 18-inchers with the GT model.
Inside, it actually feels quite special, especially in a top 'GT' model, which features leather and Alcantara sports seats with red-stitching and GT badging. There's a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel and black roof lining. Unfortunately, rear vision out of the sloping rear window isn't great though. Rear legroom is much as you'd find it on a more ordinary Ceed model. Headroom though, as you might expect from a 'Fastback coupe', is slightly more limited. There's a 594-litre boot, which is just 31-litres less than you'd get in the ordinary Ceed SW estate.
Proceed pricing sits about £1,500 above what you'd pay for an equivalent hatch model. But it only comes with Kia's premium sporty trim levels, 'GT-Line' and 'GT'. That means figures that start at around £24,000 for the base 1.4 T-GDi 'GT-Line' variant. There's an £1,100 premium for the auto gearbox. For the diesel version, you'll need to be looking at a £25,000 budget. The 1.4 T-GDi derivative also comes in slightly plusher 'GT-Line S' form but for that you'll need around £27,000. If you want the top 1.6 201bhp T-GDi petrol engine (which comes only in auto form), you'll need top 'GT' trim, which will require a £28,000 budget.
As standard, the ProCeed 'GT-Line' comes with a six-speaker audio system, with DAB radio and MP3 compatibility and USB and AUX ports for connection of a media device. Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming is provided, too, along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for easy smartphone connection. An eight-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system with European mapping and traffic messaging channel (TMC), as well as Kia Connected Services featuring TomTom Live is included and is combined with a 4.2-inch colour supervision cluster display and trip computer. A reversing camera with dynamic guidelines is integrated into the centre fascia screen, as well as the fitment of rear parking sensors.
This Proceed needs to be reasonably affordable to run to interest likely buyers and the figures seem to stack up acceptably well. The base 1.4 T-GDi petrol model achieves 45.6mpg on the combined cycle and 132g/km of CO2. Or 44.8mpg and 130g/km in auto form. Go for the 1.6 CRDi diesel engine and you're looking at 56.5mpg and 111g/km of CO2. Or 54.3mpg and 110g/km in auto form. The top 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol model (which comes only in auto form) manages 39.3mpg and 142g/km. All the figures just given are WLTP-rated for fuel and NEDC2-rated for CO2.
As usual with Kia, there's a 7 year or 100,000 mile warranty which, since it can be passed from owner to owner, should help the impressively strong residual values. You might want to note that roadside assistance cover is limited to one year, but you do get a long 12 year bodywork warranty. Maintenance costs can be kept down by opting for Kia's 'Care-3' or 'Care-3 Plus' servicing packages, which offer a fixed-cost and inflation-proof servicing plan for the first three or five years, something which can also be passed on to subsequent owners.
You probably won't have started out wanting a Proceed in searching the market for something a bit more stylish and interesting that suits your family needs. Now that you know about this model though, it's possible that it might ideally suit a desired combination of desirability and sensibility in a relatively affordable versatile compact family car. We'd still have hesitated to recommend it a few years ago though, given the vanilla way that Kias back then tended to drive. But that's all changed now.
This model's 'shooting brake' concept may be a nod to past hunting wagons of the landed gentry but the concept here is very much of our time: a compact yet spacious estate that doesn't drive like one, that's nicely finished, practically configured and relatively affordable to run. It's very much an estate for people who wouldn't normally buy such a thing. And that makes it quite a tempting prospect.