13 December 2021
What is it?
A shooting brake estate in the Kia range would have been quite the eyebrow raiser a few years ago. Yet now such a model, in this instance the Kia Proceed, that may well have grabbed the headlines for the brand in the desirability stakes takes perhaps even fourth or fifth billing in the company’s range behind the likes of the Kia Stinger GT, Kia EV6, and – yes – even the new Kia Sorento.
The Proceed has now had a mid-life refresh that focuses mainly on cosmetic changes and it arrives in our hands as the base petrol model, one of two options in the petrol-only range.
This 1.5-litre turbocharged unit comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as tested here or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The range is topped by a headline-grabbing 201bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged unit shared with the Hyundai i20 N and is available only with an automatic gearbox.
What’s it like?
Temper any ideas of sportiness when driving this version of the Proceed, however racy it might look in profile. This is heartland family car transport, designed to be as easy to drive and live with as it is on the eye.
A pleasant enough car it is to drive, too. A comfortable driving position is easy to find, and visibility and a general sense of airiness aren’t compromised as much as you might think by such a slim glasshouse and tapered rear. All the major controls are nicely weighted and laid out logically and sensibly.
All that is hardly set-your-trousers-on-fire stuff, but it matters in making a car foible free so you can simply get on with driving it. And there is pleasure to be derived from driving it, most notably from its agile handling.
It feels fleet of foot, and the willingness to change direction and respond positively to a driver’s inputs is not at the expense of an overly firm ride. Indeed, the Proceed manages to mix a comfortable, refined ride with alert handling in a way that’s near spot on for a family car. It feels Volkswagen Golf-like in that respect.
The praise is less effusive for the engine, though. I had to double-check the specs after driving it, because 157bhp and 187lb ft of torque should feel like plenty in a car of this size and weight and with a manual gearbox. However, it just feels quite gutless, and a bit flat in its power delivery.
Perhaps it’s because this particular test car had just a handful of miles on the odometer and hadn’t yet been properly run in. More likely, though, it’s just how cars have to be tuned for efficiency these days, and geared and set up more for lowering CO2 emissions than maximising drivability.