Kia Proceed Review 2021 | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear
Car Review

Kia Proceed

£ 24,065 - £ 28,825
610
Published: 12 May 2021
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Is a sleeker estate the new must-have niche? Kia thinks so…

Good stuff

Looks purposeful and interesting. Well equipped, and that warranty…

Bad stuff

Extra weight blunts the GT’s drive. Rubbish rear visibility

Overview

What is it?

It’s a badge you’ve met before, the Kia Proceed, fitted to a totally different sort of car. Instead of taking the shape of a chopped down three-door hatch, coupe-style, the new Proceed is a ‘shooting brake’ – modern shorthand for a sleek estate car.

Kia said it noticed sales of coupes dropping, but didn’t want to lose the Proceed’s more sporty, lifestyle-y edge from its range. So, it’s instead built an alternative to the hordes of mini-SUV crossovers. You get five doors and a big boot, but it’s wrapped up in a mini Porsche Panamera suit. On large wheels especially – 18s are the biggest available – it looks tremendous in the flesh. Cleverly detailed and well proportioned. Don‘t be fooled by some of the dumpy angles in the photos – this is a(nother) very handsome Kia.

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If you’re the clever clogs reading this with mirth and thinking ‘but Kia already does the Ceed Sportswagon estate’, you’re spot on. But even its maker admits that fleet market-targeting box is hardly turning heads and magnetising punters. That’s why the Proceed is a deliberately less practical version of a practical car. Got it?

As you’d expect, the engines are shared with other cars in the Hyundai/Kia stable. Your only two options are 1.5-litre or 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrols – no diesels, nor a plug-in hybrid. The 201bhp 1.6 is only available in the cosmetically racy Proceed GT, so the new 158bhp 1.5 (which replaces the old 1.4) will be the bigger seller.

Whereas Kia’s most popular Ceeds are the mid-range Ceed 2 and Ceed 3, the Proceed only comes in various stages of GT-line trim, matching the styling with more assertive looks. Equipment levels are typically high across the board.

While the Proceed is more practical than you might expect, it’s heavier than a normal Ceed and not the sporty, driver-pleasing solution Kia might have you believe. But it’s competent, and most likeable in 201bhp Proceed GT form, which comes as standard with a seven-speed automatic gearbox. Paddleshifters ahoy.

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Prices start at £25,080 for a 158bhp petrol GT-line, and top out not with the go-faster GT, but the fully kitted-out GT S with the lesser 1.5-litre engine, at £29,840.

So, it fills a hole in Kia’s range, and despite not being remarkable to drive, it’s a likeable left-field choice. Sound like your sort of thing? Read on…

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

A refreshing niche that ain’t a crossover, but not as sporty as billed

The Proceed takes a bit of getting your head around, because it’s not sportier than the Ceed, despite looking lower and sleeker. But neither is it dramatically impractical, despite being an estate car that’s more about style than trips to Ikea. Sorry that sounds convoluted – such is life when cars with old names assume new roles and chase narrow niches.

Fundamentally, the Proceed is still a good and recommendable car, because Kia’s warranty and equipment-heavy trim levels make for a promising ownership experience.

It’s not a standout performer to drive – even in 201bhp GT form – but it’s competent and comfortable enough, and its looks are genuinely arresting. Hardly a volume seller for Kia, but the ones it does shift make for interesting head-turners among the crossover SUV malaise.

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