The Kia Pro_cee’d is now the Kia Proceed. The dropping of the clumsy underline and apostrophe from the Kia’s monicker could be seen a signal that this car is becoming more sophisticated and more confident about what it is offering for potential buyers.
You see that also in the greater differentiation in Ceed models and, indeed, in the growth of the range – the most recent model being the Kia Xceed crossover which will hit the showrooms this autumn.
Certainly today’s Proceed is a substantially different car from the Pro_cee’d that I tested back in January 2014.
It looks bigger. It looks more up market. And it has grown from a hot hatch into a more of a grand tourer. This direction was set with the ProCeed concept that was unveiled at the motor shows in 2017.
Where the Pro_cee’d was a conventional three-door hatchback, the new ProCeed is a much more rakish vehicle. It looks both attractive and up-market – a far cry from the cars that Kia were sending for me to evaluate just ten years ago.
You could describe the Kia Proceed as a five-door sporting estate, or even a five-door coupé. Notably it is not based on the Ceed Estate – the rear tailgate is significantly more raked.
It’s hard to believe I’m saying this, but it’s equally hard to ignore. There’s a hint of Porsche Panamera about the rear three quarters view, with that sloping tailgate, distinctive rear light cluster and strategically spaced Proceed lettering.
The result is that the Proceed is the most attractive Kia that has ever been parked on our driveway. The coupé profile looks so much sleeker than its predecessor.
The Proceed’s increase from three to five doors is a response to market demand. Sales of three-door hatchbacks have plummeted recently. So much so that manufacturers are rapidly deleting them from their ranges.
Like the Ceed, the Proceed is built, not in its native Korea, but in Slovakia. Indeed, the Ceed range was designed from the outset to appeal to the European market. Its name was derived from the Communauté Économique Européenne initials CEE combined with “European design” (with the surplus E originally replaced by an apostrophe).
You cannot try to move a car designed for Europe up the scale, without providing a high quality interior and the Proceed’s interior is suitably well finished. But, you can still find a few sections of hard plastic that remind you this is produced to a price.
I found it easy to set myself a comfortable driving position and the driver and front seat passenger are well catered for in terms of space.
The rear seats are more spacious than I had feared, looking at that sleek roof line. My acid test is to leave the driver’s seat at my preferred long-legged position and to see if I can fit in the back. It was a bit of a squeeze to get my knees past the edges of the seat and the headroom was adequate rather than generous.
The coupé-style roof line and sloping tailgate inevitably mean that you cannot pile goods high, like you would on a more conventional estate car. But the Proceed will still swallow a substantial amount of luggage as the figures below will testify.
One downslide of this sleekness is that the rear view mirror only shows the bottom half of following cars that are a sensible distance behind. A reversing camera makes sure that manoeuvring visibility is good.
Notably there are some very useful storage areas below the load floor that will keep items organised and out of sight. One of these underfloor storage areas just inside the tailgate, is the right size to take two (not overly filled) supermarket bags upright when the hatch is opened.
Equipment levels include all the expected items at this level in the market. DAB radio, sat-nav and bluetooth connection, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also a wireless charge pad for suitably-equipped smartphones.
I did have some niggles with the technology. The Proceed may be designed for Europe but its soundtrack with welcome and farewell tunes and chimes for everything is definitely oriental. As a pretty experienced drive, I also found it a galling to have the car tell me to put my hands on the steering wheel!
Another gripe was the need to set your preferred driver aids and settings every time you get into the car. Each time, I had to set sports mode on, cruise control on, auto hold on and switch off the lane-keeping control.
But, one of the best features is indicated by the sticker on the rear window – Kia’s seven-year warranty.
It was a surprise to find that the test Proceed was diesel powered. But, then I had approached this car with the mindset from previous experience with the 2014 Pro_cee’d. The new Proceed is not so much about being a hot hatch. It has grown up and is now aimed at being a sports tourer rather than a “pocket rocket”.
The seven-speed automatic gearbox on the test car, fits in well with this change of character, moving away from the overtly sporty.
The Proceed feels suitably agile out on country roads. The steering is weighted but misses some of the real feedback you get from the best cars in this class. That said, it will tackle sweeping roads and even more twisty tarmac with enthusiasm.
The steering wheel paddles mean you can select the best gears for the corner, or slot the gearbox into sport and let it do the shifts for you.
The diesel engine fits this style quite well. It could not be described as a sparkling performer. But it is torquey and powerful, picking up speed with a surge of power, rather than a kick in the back.
It cruises well although I did feel that the cruise control was fluttering very slightly between throttle open and closed when it reached the set speed. It was just noticeable enough to be an annoyance. Disappointingly, the test car was not fitted with an adaptive cruise control.
Economy is impressive. I managed to get more than 40 mpg on every journey during my time with the Proceed.
The new Kia Proceed offers a more mature proposition than its predecessor. Kia are certainly expecting it to do well with predictions of it accounting for a quarter of sales in the Ceed range.
That seems entirely plausible with its combination of greater distinction, style and ability. Kia Proceed GT-line CRDI ISG
Carbon dioxide emissions: 110 g/km
Combined fuel economy 67.3 mpg
Top speed: 124 mph
0-62: 10.1 secs
Power 136 bhp
Engine size 1598cc diesel
Boot capacity 594/1545 (back seats up/folded)