First Drive

First Drive: Kia Proceed

The story:
Kia believes it can replicate the sales success of the Mercedes CLA by offering a five-door fastback version of a small family hatchback with the latest Proceed rather than a three-door version of the Ceed hatchback.
Category:Lower Medium
Key rival:Mercedes CLA
Kia Proceed 1.6 CRDi 134hp manual GT-Line
Price:£24,685
MPG:55.5mpg
Emissions:111g/km
On sale:Now

Kia believes it can replicate the sales success of the Mercedes CLA by offering a five-door fastback version of its Ceed small family hatchback. Step forward the new Proceed.

If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it adorned a three-door version of the previous Ceed. However, Kia has thought laterally about the latest Proceed, and while it’s still a sporty version of the regular Ceed hatchback, this time it has five doors.

With the addition of two extra doors and a bigger boot, the Proceed becomes a car that companies and user-chooser drivers are more likely to find appealing. After all, many choice lists have restrictions including ‘must have at least four doors’.

First Drive- March 2019 - Kia Proceed - Image 9Cleverly, Kia has provided all this and increased the sporty appearance at the same time. Under the Porsche Panamera-style rear design, the Proceed is able to carry 594 litres of luggage, 199 litres more than the conventional Ceed hatch.

For added sportiness the Proceed also brings with it three new trim levels; GT-line, GT-line S and GT. The last of these is only available with the highest powered (201hp) petrol engine.

Of more interest to company car drivers will be the 134hp 1.4 petrol and the 138hp 1.6 diesel. Both qualify for the same 27% BiK band although the 55.5mpg diesel does around 10mpg more than the petrol.

Unsurprisingly the petrol is the more refined engine, but neither, in comparison to rival brand engines of similar power and efficiency, is particularly impressive. In fact the 1.6-litre diesel is now feeling particularly old and clattery. Kia is pushing its seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox with the Proceed, but it is slow to respond in Normal mode and in Sport just exacerbates the lack of engine refinement. The manual, which is light and slick to change, is a better match for the car.

First Drive- March 2019 - Kia Proceed - Image 4However, the Proceed wins points back with the way it drives. The steering is light and precise, if a little lacking in feedback, and the balance of the body while cornering is impressively neutral. It has plenty of grip and traction.

The suspension too has a good level of compliance to it which means it absorbs bumps well and the car doesn’t thud or jar into potholes or over speedbumps.

With all the latest tech such as lane keeping and adaptive cruise control, the Proceed is also a good motorway car.

All versions of the new sporty trim levels are healthily equipped, including two USB ports, a colour sat-nav and infotainment touchscreen plus dual-zone climate control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and heated seats.

However, the top spec GT-line S comes with a panoramic roof which robs headroom from the front seat occupants. Taller drivers will find the seat doesn’t really go low enough to counter this, and the shallow rear screen means the view through the rear-view mirror is poor due to the angle of the back window.

Still, with precious few rivals in the small family fastback market, Kia’s Proceed has plenty of fleet appeal

Tristan Young

The verdict

Great handling hatchback with loads of kerb appeal and a practical interior, let down a little by a lack of refinement and minimal steering feel.