What is it?
It was quite an unusual move in 2019 when Kia decided to change the Proceed from being merely a three-door version of the regular Ceed hatchback to a bold, slightly oddball shooting brake estate. Even more bizarre was the fact you could already buy a ‘wagon’ version of the Ceed.
So it’s clear this Proceed was never going to be a big seller, but it helped to bring the brand further upmarket with its style-led design – something more recent models like the new Sportage and electric EV6 have also accomplished. Not even three years since its introduction, Kia’s set about tweaking it – but does it elevate its appeal further?
Given the Proceed is a model that majors on style, it’s not surprising that plenty of the updates are centred around this too. While we’ll explain more on this later, the front end gets the bulk of the changes, including new lights and a redesigned gloss black grille.
Inside, Kia has tried to move the Proceed further upmarket with more premium materials, while a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen and a smart digital instrument cluster both help to give its interior a modern lift.
What’s under the bonnet?
Mirroring market trends, Kia has dropped the diesel engine option on the Proceed – leaving two petrols to choose from.
At the top of the range is a 201bhp 1.6-litre option that’s used in the sportier GT, but our test car gets a 1.5-litre turbocharged unit instead. It’s a relatively new engine for Kia, and with 158bhp and 253Nm of torque, is stronger than the 1.4-litre unit it replaces. It can take this shooting brake to 60mph in 8.6 seconds and to a top speed of 130mph, with buyers having a choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic – our test car using the latter.
In terms of efficiency, Kia claims 46.3mpg, though during testing it was hovering more closely around the 40mpg mark, with CO2 emissions rated at 139g/km.
What’s it like to drive?
There’s the phrase ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’, but the Proceed is more the reverse of that – not quite having the sporty driving experience to go with its racy styling. It’s by no means poor behind the wheel, just a bit, well, average. The engine can feel a bit flat unless you put it in its ‘Sport’ mode, though it is very quiet and refined, not sounding strained even under quite harsh acceleration.
Will always be quite fond of the Kia Proceed as it was the first car launch I ever did. Almost three years to the day, I still reckon it looks absolutely fantastic pic.twitter.com/c4gXLTV6m5
— Ted Welford (@TedWelford) January 12, 2022
Through the corners, the Proceed feels direct and its low seating position does help to make it feel mildly sporty, while it is noticeably more involving than other Ceed models in the range. That said, the downside is that the low-speed ride is a bit too firm, while there’s quite a lot of road noise generated from its low-profile tyres. The view out of the rear is also quite poor.
How does it look?
Undoubtedly the main draw to the Proceed is the way it looks, with its glamorous and sleek design being a far cry from Kias of old. As an example, during our time testing it, we had people thinking it was an Audi on numerous occasions. The shooting brake-style shape makes it far sleeker than your typical estate car, while the LED light bar at the rear gives it some cool presence on the road at night.
It’s the front end that gets the most changes as part of this update, with alterations including greater gloss black trim, such as for the redesigned tiger-nose grille and air inlet trim. The new LED headlights are pretty smart too – particularly the indicators, which actually point the way the Proceed is turning.
What’s it like inside?
Kia’s interiors have really stepped up a notch in recent years, and the Proceed’s interior is especially pleasant. With more softer-touch materials introduced as part of this update, the Proceed’s cabin now has the interior to match the glamorous exterior style. The suede and leather sports seats (fitted to GT and GT-Line S cars) are also superb, being both comfortable and supportive.
The downside to the Proceed’s style is the practicality offset. On paper at least, the 594-litre boot is hardly down on the standard Ceed Sportwagon’s space, but the shape is limited by the sloping roof, while it’s pretty shallow too. You do get a generous amount of underfloor storage, though. Rear space isn’t all that good, either, with the sloping roof and sunroof (fitted to GT-Line S versions) limiting the headroom on offer.
What’s the spec like?
Even as standard, the Proceed GT-Line gets plenty of kit, including the excellent new 10.25-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, LED rear lights and a reversing camera. Priced from £25,480, it’s really not bad value for money at all.
Next up is the sporty GT. Priced from £30,280, you’re mainly paying for its dynamic tweaks and more powerful engine, though it does also bring LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels and the smart sports seats we’ve already mentioned.
At the top of the range is the GT-Line S. Despite using the regular engine, at £30,240, it’s priced almost identically to the sporty GT version. However, you’re mainly paying for all the extra kit, such as features like a sunroof, digital dial display, electric boot and JBL sound system. There are very few features you’d be left wanting, that’s for sure.
These changes on the Proceed reinforce what a great piece of design this Kia remains, and one that’s undoubtedly helped attract new customers for the South Korean firm. With a smarter interior than before, it’s certainly helped improve it further.
But with its compromised practicality and middling driving experience, it’s by no means an all-rounder. However, if you’re tired of the same old hatchback/estate formula and want something refreshingly different to the swathes of new SUVs, the Proceed deserves a look.
Model: Kia Proceed
Model as tested: Kia Proceed 1.5 T-GDI GT-Line S DCT
Price as tested: £30,240
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol
Max speed: 130mph
0-60mph: 8.6 seconds
Emissions: 139g/km CO2