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Driven: Kia Proceed GT-Line S. Image by Kia UK.

Driven: Kia Proceed GT-Line S
The handsome-looking (donít mention the Panamera) Kia Proceed tested, in high-ranking GT-Line S trim. How goes it?

   



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Kia Proceed GT-Line S

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: striking looks, quality cabin, usual impressive kit levels and warranty from Kia, steering feels much sharper than any Kia before it

Not so good: the GT-Line S is more money than the 204hp GT version, limited engine and trim choice in the range, still a bit buttoned-down in the chassis department

Key Facts

Model tested: Kia Proceed 1.4 T-GDi GT-Line S
Price: Proceed range from £23,840; GT-Line S from £29,260 as tested
Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: seven-speed DCT dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door 'shooting-brake' estate
CO2 emissions: 133g/km (VED Band 131-150: £210 in year one, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 42.8mpg
Top speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 9.1 seconds
Power: 140hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 242Nm at 1,500-3,200rpm
Boot space: 594-1,545 litres

Our view:

If you're struggling to follow the Kia Proceed's metamorphosis from a three-door hatchback with a grammatically challenged nameplate previously, into a posh estate this time around... and then you're confused because it's NOT a replacement for the old Ceed Sportswagon, as there's a new one of those in the current Ceed family... don't worry. You're not alone. We're baffled, too.

But you should be most happy to see what this new Proceed has become, because it's arguably Kia's best-looking contrivance this side of a Stinger. In top-spec GT-Line S trim and premium Blue Flame (£570) paint, you can appreciate many of its most lovely details, like the swooping upper line of the glasshouse, or the clean flanks, or the full-width light strip on that rakish rear. Yeah, it's a corking-looking thing, sitting on its standard-fit 18-inch alloys, and obviously there have been comparisons with the Porsche Panamera. Where once that would have been a slight on Kia - not because we'd have been accusing the Korean design house of copying the Europeans, but more because the Pan Mk1 was hideous - nowadays it's definitely a compliment. This Proceed is going to win buyers on the strength of its appearance alone.

Inside, it's one of Kia's typically well-bolted-together but perhaps not massively flashy interiors. The Korean company hasn't gone for a digital cluster as yet, so there are familiar analogue dials flanking a TFT information screen (some might say this was better than a full digi-dash), while the eight-inch touchscreen for the infotainment still perches on the console, rather than being integrated into it. Nevertheless, the GT-Line S seats are lovely, the driving position is great, passenger space is not bad at all in the back while the boot is colossal, and there's a tidy Qi smartphone charging cradle in the centre stack. Also, the kit list on the GT-Line S is so long that if we were to list it all, we might start now and not be finished until the UK has fully recovered from Brexit, so we'll try and pick out a few highlights that are standard-fit (on the understanding you accept there's MUCH more than this to play with on the Proceed): the eight-speaker JBL sound system; every driver assist system you could possibly need, up to and including Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Lane Keeping Assist; four heated seats and a heated steering wheel too; Smart Cruise Control with Stop&Go; a powered tailgate; dual-zone climate control; and a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat. The only weirdness here is that the 1.4-litre, 140hp GT-Line S, which mimics the 1.6-litre, 204hp GT 'top dog', is actually more money to buy than the said GT. Odd.

To drive, the Kia is tidy and impressive, if not something that's going to have you shouting in the streets about a Korean chassis revolution. It offers up good grip in the corners and an admirable resistance to scruffy understeer, while there's a trace sensation of a bit of throttle-adjustability if you load up its suspension fully. The DCT gearbox is good, too, if not the best of its type we've ever encountered, and the brakes do precisely what you need them to without anything really notable to say about them at all. But it remains a little tied-down in the handling department, although the pay-off for this is impressive refinement - both the ride quality and the noise suppression are first-rate, so the Kia is a most pleasant machine to do many miles in, while we saw a decent 44.4mpg from it on a motorway run. It also returned 39.6mpg on 371 miles of mixed-roads driving, so it looks fairly frugal for a turbocharged petrol.

What has piqued our interest, though, is the steering. Kia's multimode stuff used to be dross; didn't matter which of the three modes you picked (Eco, Normal or Sport), it always felt light, over-assisted and powder-puff in the feel department. It takes about four bends in the new Proceed to discern that this is emphatically no longer the case. The steering is now much more direct and sweetly weighted, and while we're not about to say it's so rich in feedback that Lotus might abandon its non-assisted ethos, you can actually now tell what the Kia's front wheels are up to. We like.

This, undoubtedly, is the Albert Biermann influence. The German has already knocked sister company Hyundai's hot hatch output into such extraordinary shape that it can be considered class-leading in the fiercely competitive C-segment, and he was also clearly instrumental in getting Kia's own Stinger flagship to be just about as involving to drive as a 245hp turbodiesel as it is as a 370hp V6 petrol. Indeed, the competent chassis underpinning this Proceed and the excellent steering make us wonder whether even the 204hp 1.6 GT is enough punch for the car (the 1.4, by the way, is a smooth enough operator but 140hp/242Nm is sorely lacking, considering the Proceed's racy appearance), and then we further ponder what the Proceed would be like with the 2.0-litre T-GDi out of the i30 N... heck, even the 250hp version would be most worthwhile.

And that is a car we could fully get behind. A gorgeous-looking estate with 250hp-plus and a price tag well below the £40,000 marker, complete with all of Kia's strengths of fully stocked equipment lists and superb refinement. It'd be a super-estate for the masses. It'd be bloody terrific. As it is, the Kia Proceed GT-Line S is a most likeable machine that just needs a little bit more punch, and a little bit more engine choice in the line-up (if we're honest), to push it higher in the C-segment estate class. But there are very promising signs here, no doubt about that.

Alternatives:

Ford Focus Estate: has much greater range choice, with more engines and even Active and ST models, but the Focus doesn't look as nice as the Kia and it can't match the standard equipment levels, either.

Hyundai i30 Tourer: source material for the Proceed and the more prosaic Ceed Sportswagon. The Hyundai Tourer as yet doesn't have any particularly punchy engines, so we think the Proceed is the far nicer car overall.

Skoda Octavia Estate: a new fourth-gen Octavia is inbound and the Estate version is gorgeous. However, for now, the outgoing Mk3 still offers a tonne of space for your bucks, plus its engines are superb. Shame about the grotesque quad-headlight face, though.


Matt Robinson - 7 May 2019



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2019 Kia Proceed GT-Line S UK test. Image by Kia UK.2019 Kia Proceed GT-Line S UK test. Image by Kia UK.2019 Kia Proceed GT-Line S UK test. Image by Kia UK.2019 Kia Proceed GT-Line S UK test. Image by Kia UK.2019 Kia Proceed GT-Line S UK test. Image by Kia UK.

2019 Kia Proceed GT-Line S UK test. Image by Kia UK.2019 Kia Proceed GT-Line S UK test. Image by Kia UK.2019 Kia Proceed GT-Line S UK test. Image by Kia UK.2019 Kia Proceed GT-Line S UK test. Image by Kia UK.2019 Kia Proceed GT-Line S UK test. Image by Kia UK.








 

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