The 2019 Kia Proceed is not a three-door hatchback; neither is it a coupe. And, if you believe Kia, it isn't a mere estate. Whatever pigeonhole it fits into, there's no denying its aesthetic appeal and it's on sale in Ireland now in a single petrol-powered, GT-Line-badged guise. We've driven it.
In the Metal:
Previous generations of the Proceed (ridiculously styled "pro_cee'd" by its maker) were three-door hatchbacks with a sportier appearance than the equivalent Kia Ceed, but dwindling sales of that body style encouraged the Korean company to rethink its strategy. So, the new Kia Proceed takes the form of a five-door shooting brake. It's a little longer than the regular Kia Ceed Sportswagon, but a significant 43mm lower, with a 5mm lower ride height. While the front end has been restyled (supposedly to closer align it with the Kia Stinger), the rear of the Proceed is completely different to that of the regular Ceed hatch and the estate. The window is far more sloped for a start, there's a gratuitous 'Sharkblade' in the side glass to emphasise the same and the LED rear lights include a full-width strip that, in conjunction with the Proceed name emblazoned across the back, give the car more than a hint of the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. Whether you agree with that or not, there's no doubt that this is an attractive looking car, though it is a shame that the standard alloy wheels (a 17-inch design) don't really fill the arches convincingly.
Despite the sloping rear window, the Proceed isn't far behind the Ceed Sportswagon in the practicality stakes. Sure, the boot holds a little less luggage (and wouldn't be as useful for carrying large bulky items), but it's still a large volume. The rear seats split and fold down to create a massive flat area and there are loads of underfloor compartments of various sizes to hide bits and pieces. Up front, the Proceed is little different to the regular Ceed, though as it's only sold in Ireland in GT-Line specification it feels a step up thanks to the sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel and part-faux-leather upholstered seats. As in the Ceed, the switchgear is tactile, the car feels well made and the touchscreen infotainment is noticeably intuitive in operation.
For now, the only engine option in the Proceed is Kia's four-cylinder 1.4-litre turbo 'T-GDi' unit. It's smooth and has plenty of go when you need it, though the gearing of the six-speed manual gearbox means it feels like there's a little turbo lag at low speeds, so it doesn't exactly scamper away from a standstill. On the move, that's not an issue and the 140hp it makes is plenty for a car of this size. In terms of body control and mid-corner balance, the Proceed is better than average, but it stops short of providing the driver with an engaging experience. That's mainly to do with the too-light driving controls. The steering, brake and clutch pedals and gearchange are all lacking in meaningful feedback. On the plus side, it's a cinch to drive around town and to park, while the light controls ensure you don't get too tired on a long journey. For the most part, it's civilised on the motorway, though some road surfaces induce more tyre noise than is ideal. Not that many buyers of this petrol-only Proceed are likely to spend the majority of their time on the motorway, of course.
What you get for your Money:
The Proceed is a tricky one to score on this front, as it has few real rivals on the Irish market and it can't be directly compared with the Kia Ceed in hatch or estate formats as neither of those are offered with the 1.4-litre petrol engine. For now, Kia Ireland will sell the Proceed solely in GT-Line specification, though it's likely that the dual-clutch automatic gearbox will become available in time. For what it's worth, this is a well-equipped car.
If you're on the search for a car that is a little different to the norm (i.e. not an SUV), but doesn't give up completely on practicality, then the new Kia Proceed could be just the thing. Whether there are enough buyers falling into that category to justify the Proceed's existence is another matter, but we certainly approve of the car's design and hope the buying public gives it more than just a fighting chance.