It's not often that a Kia is the most memorable vehicle of an entire auto show, but last year's Kia Proceed Concept was definitely in the top tier of Frankfurt Motor Show debuts. A year later, Kia is releasing the production version, a stretched hatch it classifies as a five-seat shooting brake. It may wear a Korean badge, but this sporty turbo estate is European through and through.
Kia has been playing around with sporty estates built for European customers for a few years now. Its Geneva 2016-debuted Optima Sportswagon borrowed some cues from the sexy Sportspace concept debuted at the same show a year earlier. Then last year, Kia took experimental sports estate styling a step further with the stunning Proceed, a new direction for the Ceed family flagship, previously the pro_cee'd three-door hot hatch.
Kia was calling the ProCeed an "extended hot hatch" last year, whereas now it seems to prefer "five-door shooting brake." That's interesting because we'd say that the Proceed Concept looked more like a proper estate, while the production car looks more the part of a stretched hot hatch.
However you want to describe it, the ProCeed searches for the absolute sweet spot between the sporty looks and agility of a three-door sports hatch and the fuller volume and enhanced utility of a station wagon. The Ceed Sportswagon is a smooth, little wagon in its own right, but the ProCeed goes a step further with sporty dimensions and ride tuning, all without abandoning utility. The ProCeed's 594 liters of trunk volume represents a 50 percent gain over the standard Ceed hatch and is not far behind the Ceed Sportswagon's 625 liters.
"Where the Ceed Sportswagon majors on practicality, the ProCeed provides couples or young families with the space and versatility of a wagon, combined with an emotive, swept-back design," sums up Kia Motors Europe COO Emilio Herrera. "Where focusing on one of these normally compromises the other, the ProCeed is the first car in the mainstream segment to combine both."
Designed, developed and engineered in Europe, the production ProCeed doesn't appear quite as low and lithe as the 2017 concept, and its roofline is a bit less swept back, more of an upright arch. But it still looks shorter and sportier than the typical estate and longer and more voluminous than the standard hot hatch.
Up front, the ProCeed flashes a fuller, more defined face than the concept, its headlamps and tiger-nose grille broadened out into a more polished, production-style appearance. The large, wide intake design below teases the car's performance-focused intentions. The front-end has also been pushed forward from the front tires, as compared to the impossibly short overhang on the Proceed Concept.
While it's designed to be more sports car than the Ceed Sportswagon, the ProCeed is a touch longer (5 mm, to be precise), measuring 181 in (4,605 mm) bumper to bumper. Its 56-inch-high (1,422-mm) roof sits 1.7 in (43 mm) lower than the Sportswagon's. The ProCeed also sits lower to the ground, with 5.3 in (135 mm) of clearance, while sharing its 104-in (2,650-mm) wheelbase – and K2 platform – with other members of the Ceed family.
The ProCeed flows back over carefully defined flanks of taut creases, smooth recesses and sharp character lines. The rear quarter of the design is where Kia designers have followed the blueprint of the 2017 concept most closely. The chrome "shark blade" jutting up from the belt line in the rear window ran just behind the illuminated window frame in terms of design cues we were sure would disappear between concept and production cars. But there it is, helping to emphasize the sporty roofline.
The rear windshield finishes off the flow of the roofline, angling in at 64.2 degrees off-vertical, well above the off-vertical angles of existing Ceed models. As a result, the rear profile has a much more coupe-like look to it than the Ceed Sportswagon – or virtually any production estate we can think of, outside of premium models like the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo.
The round, tightly sculpted rear fascia also ties closely with the 2017 Proceed concept, a wide-set layout of sporty bumper, dual-tip exhaust and thin, horizontal LED taillights. Kia has inscribed a "PROCEED" badge into the lower tailgate.
Inside, the ProCeed borrows from its Ceed siblings in the design of its roomy, ergonomic cabin, while also wearing some sportier touches of its own. The 7-in infotainment touchscreen (8-in touchscreen satellite nav optional) centered on the dash, soft-touch materials and metallic accents are derived from family DNA. The black cloth roof liner, sportier front seats with enlarged bolsters, metallic scuff plates, D-shaped steering wheel and available alloy paddle shifters give occupants a feel for the ProCeed's sports-focused nature.
Kia has also crafted the interior with space and utility in mind. Just ahead of the roomy cargo area, the ProCeed features a rear passenger compartment with a lowered hip point compared to other Ceed models. This dimension adjustment offsets the dropped roofline to maintain plenty of head and legroom for rear passengers.
The ProCeed's lowered ride height and lack of trunk lip are designed to make accessing the load area much easier, as is the available Smart Power Tailgate that opens when it detects the driver's key close by the rear of the car. The 40:20:40 split-fold rear seats fold down at the pull of a lever, creating a flat load floor.
Kia will launch the ProCeed in GT Line and high-performance GT trim levels. The GT flagship will share its 201-hp (150-kW) 1.6-liter T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) with the Ceed GT, both models also benefitting from a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Three engine options will be available for the GT Line – a 118-hp (88-kW) 1.0-liter T-GDi, 138-hp (103-kW) 1.4-liter T-GDi and 134-hp (100-kW) 1.6-liter "Smartstream" CRDi (common-rail direct injection) diesel engine. The 1.0-liter T-GDi will be available exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, while the other two engines can pair with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch.
Kia stresses that it has fine-tuned the ride of the ProCeed to meet the needs of Europe's most demanding commutes – from tight-cornered city centers, to top speed-free autobahns, to snaking, high-alpine ascents. The fully independent suspension has the same bones as other Ceed models but has been tuned specifically for the ProCeed, its geometry reworked and spring and damper rates set to account for the rear-set cab and shooting brake body style.
Kia promises agile and immediate handling response, tight body control during cornering, and comfort and stability at speed. It believes its efforts will deliver to drivers hot hatch-like cornering with the everyday feel and usability of a grand tourer.
Standard vehicle stability management (VSM) and electronic stability control have been added, along with a suite of standard driver-assistance technologies, including high beam assist, driver attention warning, lane keeping assist, and forward collision-avoidance assist. Optional systems will include lane following assist, smart cruise control with stop & go, rear cross-traffic collision warning and smart parking assist.
The Kia ProCeed will make its world premiere at the 2018 Paris Motor Show next month, before production begins in Slovakia in November. Sales will commence in the first quarter of 2019, and buyers will be able to choose from 10 paint finishes and 17- and 18-in alloy wheel options (18-in wheels standard on the GT trim).
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