It was a dark day when we lost our beloved Kia Carens, as we had hoped to have a few more precious months together. But, even so, there was a definite buzz among the AOL Cars team that a new toy was on the way, in the form of a sporty Proceed GT.
Credit where credit is due, the Proceed GT is great fun to drive and is a breath of fresh air compared to other Kias we've piloted. Not that they aren't fantastic cars, they just don't have that enthusiastic spark which the Proceed GT has managed to capture.
There are all the sporting touches you could hope for if you're in the market for a hot hatch. Flashy graphics on the dashboard, a great engine note, striking alloy wheels and mean-looking headlights all features on this model. However, this sporty attitude does make it very easy to get carried away when you're storming along the motorway...
The Proceed GT and five-door Ceed GT both came to fruition at the beginning of 2013, making their debut at the Geneva Motor Show that year. While the Ceed has become something of a household name, largely thanks to its role as the reasonably-priced car in BBC's Top Gear, Kia has certainly upped its game over the last few years. What was once a rather dull family car has grown into a credible contender in the fiercely contested family and performance hatchback markets.
There are some aspects where the Kia is lacking a bit. We're back to a '90s special orange and black screen, which means no sat-nav, but it's still kitted out with Bluetooth for playing music or making calls – as long as you remember to sync things before you set off.
For your £22,495 you still get a taste of luxury inside with leather and faux suede, although we're missing the heated seats everyone was so fond of in the Carens. If you stand back and stop comparing it to the higher end of the market, the Korean automaker has done a fine job with the Proceed GT and it's something I'm proud to have sitting on my driveway.
My enthusiasm did begin to wane slightly, however, when I had to make my first trip to the petrol station. We've jumped from an extremely economical diesel Kia to a petrol-guzzling beast, and our inability to breach 35mpg is getting quite expensive.
When you're buying into a car with 201bhp you know the running costs aren't going to be cheap, but the estimated combined miles per gallon given by Kia, of 38.2mpg, seems a little bit optimistic.
I plunged the Proceed in at the deep end with a reasonable drive from Gosport to Heathrow, and even though this is mainly motorway driving and I hit the road in the evening to avoid traffic, it still seemed to drain the tank rather sharpish. The thirst is compounded by a an oversized fuel gauge, so there's no missing just how much petrol the Proceed is slurping.
Model: Kia Procee'd 1.6 T-GDi GT TECH
Price: £22,495 (as tested)
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol
Max speed: 143mph
Emissions: 38.2mpg (combined)
Mileage this month: 546
This month's highlight
Cruising on the M25 in the middle of the night for an early airport start in comfort and at speed.