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Kia Proceed GT and Ceed GT review: 201bhp hot hatch twins tested

£27,875 when new

Car specifications

Brake horsepower
Fuel consumption
Max speed
Insurance Group


What’s this?

Kia’s breath of fresh air. The new Proceed is a nichebuster that – get this – isn’t a faux-by-four crossover. Wonders shall never cease! It’s an estate car, except, Kia already does a sensible boxy Ceed estate. So the Proceed is lower, longer, sleeker and a little bit less practical on purpose. And this is the fastest one: the Proceed GT. Of course it is. You don’t come to for the sensible version.

This is the new Proceed, which as you can see, is no longer a three-door coupe-hatch thingy. Kia spotted sales of coupes and three-doors freefalling, and changed tack to make the Proceed into a five-door hatchback shooting brake thingy. Same name, new game.

But the title promises me two reviews…

Yep, the Proceed GT also has a regular hatchback twin in the upright shape of the Ceed GT. Same engine, different backside, and some crucial differences in how they drive. So we’ll come back to the Ceed GT shortly, if that’s alright.

You may, proceed…

Yep, it’s a pun-fest alright. Proceed with car, etcetera, but Kia’s lost the apostrophes and underscores in the name this time and got on with making a properly handsome thing. You won’t believe me because it has a habit of looking a bit tall and dumpy in pictures, but trust me, the Proceed GT looks ace in the metal. The backwards sharkfin wotsit in the windowline doesn’t look contrived, the flashes of red in the grille and fake-centrelock 18-inch rims work smartly, and from the rear there’s a definite hint of discount Porsche Panamera. It looks the business. When did you last see a dodgy looking Kia, really?

Fair point. What about inside?

Let’s start at the front, where it’s familiar and a bit dull, and work backwards to where things get clever.

The touchscreen is a doddle to navigate and mounted nice and lofty, in your eyeline. The instruments are ultra clear. Pity the screen between them is so teeny, like you’re looking at an Audi Virtual Cockpit through the wrong end of a telescope. We like the general air of simplicity – of logically laid out knobs and buttons for heated this and cooled that – but the layout is less 2019 smartphone and more 1980s Japanese hi-fi stack. And you’ve not seen this much silver plastic doing a bad impression of brushed aluminium since you had that kitchen playset with all the toy cutlery when you were five years old.

The seats are good though: supportive and comfortable, though not quite low enough in the car. Red stitching loops across every surface with merry abandon – there’s not many other sporty touches to get lathered up about.

Yes, you sacrifice some headroom. Adults will be fine in the back if slouching, but you wouldn’t choose a Proceed GT for a burgeoning wedding car business. It’s a sensible sacrifice though – the Proceed is targeted at trendy lifestyle hobbyists who rarely carry children because they’re still having fun spending all their disposable coin on mountain bikes and camping gear and flatscreen TVs. Which will be right at home in the big boot.

The tailgate opens (without electric assistance, it’s a lightweight and much faster job as a result) to reveal a boot only four pesky litres short of a full 600l. That’s not much smaller than ‘proper’ estates from the likes of VW and Ford. Flip the rear seats down, and once laid almost flat, there’s 1,465 litres to roam around in. You can have luggage dividing guards, lashing points, and there’s a cellar’s worth of underfloor stowage to explore. Mountain bikers, potted plant enthusiasts and pet cemetery owners will have little to fault.

So then, how does it go?

At this point, I’ll pop the Ceed GT back into the equation, for two reasons. First: the gearbox. To make ordering the car easier, and to fit with what folks demand from hot hatches and posh wagons, there’s a split in thinking here. Choose the Ceed GT hatchback and the only option is a six-speed manual gearbox. If you’re seduced by the Proceed GT estate, a seven-speed twin-clutch paddleshift auto comes as standard.

Secondly, the longer and automatic-ier Proceed GT is a bit heavier than the manual hatch. We’re talking a difference of 52kg – 1,468kg plays 1,386kg. But it’s enough to mean that the human cog-swapping Ceed GT is exactly as quick as the insta-shifting Proceed GT.

Both run a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, developing a modest 201bhp and 195lb ft. Both go from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds. Warm hot hatch urge, not hot hatch pace. Want hot? Go Hyundai i30N, trust us. The Ceed GT is, as it ever was, a milder-mannered piece of kit.

You’re going to tell me that the Proceed GT’s all style over substance, aren’t you?

Nothing that harsh, but driving the cars back to back over and over, the Ceed GT pulls away – physically and metaphorically – from its sleeker mate. Adding 50kg or so doesn’t matter when you’re a real-life Panamera, but in a pretend one with only 201bhp, that kind of weight gain is noticeable, and the Proceed GT’s slightly slurred upshifts don’t help the impression its actually fairly peppy engine is a bit under the kosh. It doesn’t gain revs as keenly – it’s only as quick as the Ceed GT on paper because its gearbox makes up time with the DCT shifts. The Ceed GT feels nippier, and crucially, more exciting to wring out. Both cars ride with aplomb, average low 30s to the gallon, and make a bit too much road and wind noise at motorway cruising speed.

What else?

There’s a Sport button next to the gearshifter on both cars, which adds a dollop more weight to the already hefty steering, but maintains a decent sense of how much grip you’ve got at the front – handy when there’s no differential on call to split drive between the wheels.

The really unforgiveable kicker is, even in Sport mode, the Proceed GT auto-upshifts at the redline, leaving the cheapo-paddles feeling utterly redundant. It removes you from the action, where the Ceed GT, and its lightweight but accurate manual, involves you. There’s no throttle blipper for downshifts, but the response is crisp enough you’ll be nailing the changes old-school.

How does it sound?

Meaty. Big-hearted. Possibly a bit too much bark for the bite. There’s a chunk of burbly exhaust volume as you roll through a sleepy village, and inside the sound resonator gets a little, well, resonant as it growls its best karaoke V6 impression. All told, it sounds more entertaining than a Honda Civic Type R, but not that authentic. It’ll please the floating voter. Oh, and the exhaust is free from synthetic pops’n’bangs.

I want pops’n’bangs.

Buy a Hyundai i30N, then. Unless you live near me, I like my sleep.

What else?

As you’d expect, the lighter Ceed GT feels more lithe and alive in the corners – it’s keener to do the hot hatch tropes of wheel-cocking and lift-off oversteering. The Proceed’s a lot more locked down, happier to cover ground quickly than misbehave. Both generate surprisingly hefty amounts of grip – the reason why becomes obvious when you check the tyre sidewall. Standard Michelin PS4s, doing the business as usual.

You don’t get adaptive dampers or limited-slip active diffs or Individual modes to set up – this is a much simpler sort of hot hatch, and I applaud its honesty. But of the two, there’s no doubt the Ceed GT is the better one to drive, and the slightly more lethargic Proceed GT is the one you’ll enjoy looking back at after you’ve parked.

So which should I buy?

The Ceed GT, because it’s cheaper as well as sweeter to drive. There’s only one (exceptionally well-kitted) spec, and it’s £25,535, or a smidge over £26k if you want it in white, grey or black instead of red.

The Proceed GT starts up at £28,135, and handsome as it undoubtedly is, that’s too far into Hyundai i30N territory for a 200bhp halfway-house-hot-hatch. Especially as Hyundai now has its own big-booted longtail version, which costs a fiver under £30k (boo) but has a drive worth every penny extra (hurrah).

That said, the Ceed GT deserves its little niche, offering Focus ST size with Fiesta ST power and more toys than a Black Friday sale. The new hatch is a heap better to drive than the old version. The Proceed GT isn’t quite up there, but it’s a damn sight more fun than yet another crossover.

Kia Proceed GT (specs for Ceed GT in brackets)

6/10 (7/10)

2.0-litre 4cyl turbo, 201bhp, 195lb ft
0-62mph in 7.2sec, 140mph (143mph)
39.3mpg, 142g/km CO2 (38.2mpg, 155g/km CO2)
1438kg (1386kg)

£28,135 (£25,535)

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