Review: Kia ProCeed

Kia must be fed up with puny puns on its car names. It has itself to blame, having given Europe the cee’d in 2006. The word was to do with the car’s European community development. It was joined by a racier model called the pro_cee’d, a three-door coupe with GT aspirations. These spellcheck nightmares became the Ceed and ProCeed last year in a new generation of the Slovakian-built cars.

The core engine for the ProCeed is a 138bhp 1.4 litre direct injection petrol turbo from £23,835 with manual gears and £24,935 with a seven-speed, twin clutch and automatic gearbox

Kia’s lexicon had cee’d variants such as ex_cee’d (a concept for a cabriolet) and the eco_cee’d. Current more sensible names include the Niro, Soul, the Sportage suv and its big chum, Sorento.

I’ll mention before I forget that they come with a seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty which is a solace for private buyers. Hyundai, Kia’s parent company, gives a five-year, unlimited mileage cover.

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Shall we proceed with the ProCeed? The body is now a five-door with a sloping lift back. “Space and versatility of a tourer in a five-door shooting brake body,” announces Kia’s briefing book, which uses words like “stunning, daring design”. We learn that it shares its bonnet and front wings with the Ceed five-door. They are built at the same factory.

The core engine is a 138bhp 1.4 litre direct injection petrol turbo from £23,835 with manual gears and £24,935 with a seven-speed, twin clutch, automatic gearbox, both in the well-equipped GT-Line. A 134bhp 1.6 turbo diesel is not much more expensive, at £24,685 and £25,785 respectively. The range is completed with a 201bhp 1.6 petrol turbo automatic GT at £28,135 and a top-spec GT-Line S automatic with the 138bhp engine at £28,685.

It may or may not be stunning but it catches glances. The design isn’t really daring – there’s no risk of upsetting customers. Rather, it looks simply sexy, a word used in a non-sexist manner suiting our sensitive times. Nor is it a shooting brake as we knew them – those boxy carry-alls for killing parties on the grand estates of yesteryear.

However, consider the ProCeed as a stylised variation on a five-door hatchback. The tailgate slopes at an acute angle towards the roof and carries the name PROCEED in prominent silver letters. It’s an odd word to read on the back of a car – more like an instruction than a model name.

The body shape, perhaps stunning, will be the first attraction. What’s not to like, as they say in some circles? The silhouette works well. The bonnet bulges above a slim family face and then the glance is taken happily towards the rear slope, the shooting brake bit. Go round the back and there are lateral elements which remind you of a Porsche Macan. Surely Kia wouldn’t attempt such a conceit?

Whatever, it works nicely. Open up and there is a decent enough load area, with space under the floor for more luggage and the spacesaver spare wheel – a must for a grand tourer. Kia thinks the car will appeal to couples or young families. No doubt, but it has an appeal to “old” families, too, with adequate space in the back seats.

The project was created at Kia’s Frankfurt design centre “exclusively for European roads and European drivers… characterised more than any other continent by its diversity of driving conditions,” citing fast motorways, switchback mountain roads, city centre congestion and winding country lanes. It rides on a lowered chassis and bespoke settings for the suspension. Drive is to the front wheels, with ventilated discs and, at the back, solid discs.

The GT had six months of additional work on its stiffer springs, steering response and softer anti-roll bars to keep its wheels on track. The project was led by Hyundai’s head of R&D, Albert Biermann. That evaluation will have to wait for another time.

Tested here is the 138bhp GT-Line S automatic with the poky new 1.4 petrol engine which delivers an acceptable blend of performance and fuel economy.

The interior on this top model has black leather and fake suede seats and plenty more black synthetic trim with double stitching of the binnacle seams. There are heated seats, a heated leather wheel rim, powered driver’s sets, a powered tailgate which responds to your presence, adaptive cruise control, and a long sunroof with a sliding section. In this model there is a useful movable tethering rail and hooks on the load floor. The 18-inch alloys carry 225/40 tyres – Michelin on the demo car.

I enjoyed many aspects of the ProCeed. The cabin is smart in a dark way, with an easily seen touchscreen top centre and, happily, lots of conventional buttons and switches.

I had no worries about the handling but the ride is hard and the tyre contact is noisy. It feels like those Frankfurt engineers spent their time on German’s smooth roads.

Verdict: Mostly, a nice job. Undercuts prestige coupes by a large margin.