After the Stinger gave us a competent impersonation of a BMW 4 Series GranCoupe, Kia now has its eyes on Mercedes with the new Proceed. While it isn’t a direct rip-off of the CLA Shooting Brake, Kia’s people are open about why they built this car, and how that CLA was involved.
The Proceed, like all Ceeds, is designed, built and sold entirely in Europe. The old Proceed was a three-door. But sales of that kind of car have fallen, and coupes and cabrios (at least from the mass brands) have almost entirely stalled. So after the five-door Ceed and the straightforward estate version, Kia was in a bit of a conundrum for the next body style.
They interrogated their sales spreadsheets to see what what body styles are doing well. Broadly, five-doors and estates, came the answer. So the Kia planning bods commissioned some research to ask estate owners what they wanted. Boot space came the reply, but also style too. Which, Kia figured in a light-bulb moment, is how come Mercedes is selling lots of CLA Shooting Brakes.
So the Proceed has a rounded, tapering look, and it’s about 60mm lower than the Ford Focus or VW Golf estates and 40mm lower than Kia’s own Ceed estate. Yet underneath the curves, the Proceed has a bigger boot than even the ones in an Insignia or Mondeo wagon.
So it’s fair that Top Gear hits you with the boot shizz unusually early in the story… It’s a big boxy space of no less than 594 litres. Several trays live under the floor, and you can also stash the rolled-up blind in there too. Rails on the floor carry clever space dividers so your stuff doesn’t get strewn around when you get busy with the steering. The back seat is split 40:20:40.
The only real drawback is the small hatch aperture. That stems partly from style, caused by the tapering roof. Also, a decision to favour dynamics meant a highish sill, to produce a stiffer bodyshell.
The outer skin has a sleek and tidy rear end, with its tailgate lying flush with the rear bumper. The tail-lamps sign themselves with loops that sweep into a cross-car blade of red LED. Another styling flourish is a brushed chrome shark-fin cutting into the quarter window aft of the rear door.
The wallpapered car in some of these photos is a prototype we drove, with the GT package of sports suspension, 204bhp engine and red-trimmed cabin.
We suspect any dynamic differences from the Ceed GT hatchback are more down to different stages of prototype than intrinsic engineering choices. For what it’s worth, the Proceed GT prototype had what sounded like a leaky exhaust, but its engine pulled more cleanly than the Ceed GT’s.
When it goes on sale next year the Proceed will be available with turbo petrol engines of 1.0 and 1.4 litres as well as the GT’s 1.6. There’s also a 136bhp 1.6 diesel, and mild hybrid to come.
So is budget Kia on a hiding to nothing taking inspiration from posh Mercedes, or are swoopy-roofed shooting brakes about to become a thing?