The Shooting Brake
Kia have never really done a good shooting brake. Sure, there's the old Kia C'eed Estate and the Optima 'Sportswagon' but, they're not stylish shooting brakes. By no means ugly, no, but not shooting brakes.
With the Proceed, however, Kia has removed the silly grammatical additions. It's now the Proceed and, in 2019, this Shooting Brake version will join the model lineup. Essentially, it's a Ceed estate. But, that already exists in the new Kia Ceed Sportswagon. This really IS a new shooting brake because it's more stylish than the standard car, with a more swoopy rear end. Think CLS Shooting Brake next to an E-Class estate.
Kia and sister-brand Hyundai have become very interesting competitors recently. With the introduction of the I30N and the Stinger, the companies have emerged as exciting and interesting alternatives to the establishment. How does the Proceed Shooting Brake fare, I wonder.
Kia keeps the new Proceed close to home with the signature 'tiger nose' grille, enhancing the front with a rather big intake below the reg-plate area. The front diffuser has some extension to it, though I doubt it has anything to do with improved handling. At least, on the standard Proceed. No news on a Proceed GT as such, by the way. Though, I suspect Kia will come up with something around those lines. They've developed a positive reputation with the Stinger so it's a no brainer to continue creating new, exciting cars under the Kia name. Don't let Hyundai have all the fun.
Those side entrances on the front look as though they may have a function. Cool the brakes, perhaps. Nope. If you look closely, they're solid and have absolutely no function. They're aesthetic. And, I can forgive it here. It houses something that resembles a camera and a small light strip. So, there's a function right there. It also does look good as opposed to the Honda Civic which has a horrid plastic job going, even on the Type R!
Extended sideskirts also give the Proceed more dynamics. They're good looking, with a dark chrome effect. I like that there's a generally good balance of chrome, black and paint on this car. A bit of chrome here and there, but not too much. I like the black mirrors and roof. Always thought that cars with such things look better.
What an impressive thing the Proceed's backside is. Truly. I've said it before, I'll say it again - Light bars as opposed to two individual rear lights are a fantastic thing. Points to Kia for that. They're fully LED, too. Making it stand out from the drab Sportswagon. Drab in comparison, that is. The exhausts have a beautiful chrome effect, though I suspect the real pipe is hidden a few centimetres behind the surrounds. Still, at least it's not Mercedes' trickery which actually doesn't trick a single soul. There's no real diffuser as such, but the way that the centre of the rear end comes down below the reg plate seems to mirror F1 brake light clusters. A bit like the Ferrari F12.
The Proceed is such a great looking car that, if you take the badges away and stick on 'Mercedes' and 'A-Class Shooting Brake' (They so should've stuck with CLA) nobody will ever notice. Really. I see design inspiration from the new E-Class, but it isn't an absolute steal and there's clearly some design being shared with other models like the Sportage. I worry that that rear window is a little small. It doesn't help that it's a shooting brake and that the roofline will spoil the view out. Parking sensors or a 360 degree camera are probably almost standard anyway. That's Kia for you.
If you're wondering how much of that rear end you'll lose to the Sportswagon in the Shooting Brake, it's negligible. Seriously. The Sportswagon only has 6 more litres of cargo space. No brainer which one to pick, then. However, the shooting brake look isn't for everyone. And, some maybe simply prefer the boxier Sportswagon. Traditionalists who don't like niches, I suppose. Both sound cars, there's just a difference in excitement. Maybe Kia is beginning to aim at a younger family with the Shooting Brake. The Optima is for the standard family, with the Ceed Sportswagon in place for those looking at a cheaper model. The Shooting Brake, I feel, will be for the younger family - for someone looking for the 7 year warranty, with an absolute looker to show off to friends who went for something much more dull. Like, a Fabia estate.
I enjoy Kia very much. When the previous generation of Kia's came around, I knew that they would no longer be the brand who sit at the back of the automotive foodchain. Before, they were drab and made out of the nastiest stuff. But, now? Far from it. Kia have gone slightly upmarket, putting a real challenge to the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. Now, it isn't an A3 rival, let alone the new A-Class. But, if we focus on the Focus or Golf, it's really up there in their hierarchy.
Notice the button layout. There are a few buttons, yes, but it isn't exactly the previous generation Focus with it's cluster of buttons surrounding that poorly designed Sony/Ford Sync infotainment. Instead, they're logically spaced around the console. The infotainment screen is nice and high up. This is always a good, because it reduces the need to glance away from the road and the higher the screen, the more poriphoral vision you have remaining to notice any hazards on the road. A few of the safety features have buttons on the left side of the steering wheel, being out of main sight and thus complex to disable manually. Good thinking, Kia. Also, you've control of the stuff you're likely to use most just below that screen. Again, added height means more vision.
There are clearly some climate controls (No doubt the seats, steering wheel and general AC) below this main stash of buttons. They appear to present themselves in a cool, metallic look. This is Kia taking a page out of the big boy brand's book. Metallic is always a nicer feel than plastic (To me, anwyay). You'll also have access to wireless charging for your phone if it's compatible and definitely a USB or two.
This interior features the automatic transmission. Obviously, no driving of this car has really been revealed but I expect that this is a dual clutch unit. I enjoy the traditional shifter. To me, it's far easier to use than buttons for gears or the silly rotary knobs. Mercedes' stalk is also appropriate but, the good old automatic lever with tip-tronic (Thanks Audi) is the nicest, easiest method for me. Of course the other methods safe space and allow for more design to go on in the centre console, but it's always design that can be transferred elsewhere and that's exactly the case here.
While the exterior of the Proceed is attractive, sporty and definitely dynamic, the interior seems to let it down. Not because it's ugly or badly made. No. It doesn't have the same added level of adrenaline as the exterior. This is a shame. A few colourful stitching options and sports seats don't really help out that much. The car needs interesting ambient lighting or Shooting Brake exclusive trims. This interior just doesn't cut it in the excitement department, I fear. But, then again, there aren't many rivals (Other than AMG-Line A-Class' or M-Sport BMW's) that score on this either. While this is no Golf GTI rival just yet, the VW has the same problem. There's nothing in the interior to make you go 'Right, I'm definitely in a GTI'. Sure, there's a few little changes but that's also the case here.
A better angle. Especially since the black elements of the roof and spoiler are highlighted. Nice wheels, too.
In terms of practicality (Because, after all, it's a sporty estate), the 594 litres of cargo space can be expanded by folding the 20:40:20 split rear seats to give an even bigger space.
There isn't much on new engines. The Proceed holds the same shared engines that Kia and Hyundai have been using for a while now. When it goes on sale next year the Proceed will be available with a 1.0 turbo petrol and a 1.4 litre turbo petrol. The 'GT' will feature a 1.6 unit of forced induction, too. That'll be the most powerful version for a while, sitting at 204bhp. There’s also a 136bhp 1.6 turbodiesel, but that'll kill the whole point of having such a car. I'd recommend going for the 1.4 litre turbo petrol as a minimum. Apparently a mild-hybrid will also come, but that's what the Stonic is for in the range. Give it a miss.
In terms of all that sportiness, this really does challenge rivals. It sits 60 milimetres lower than a Golf or Focus estate while also being 40 milimetres lower than the brother Ceed Sportswagon. This engances the performance and feel, while being supported by the high sill which has allowed for a stiffer bodyshell. Perhaps adding to the connected feel is the fact that all engines come as standard with a manual transmission. It probably isn't the best in the business (I can safely say Honda holds that crown, firmly.), but it's no doubt something that reminds us of where motoring once dominated. Higher powered engines such as the 1.6 will have the option of the 7-speed dual clutch.
Rumours say there's going to be a lively version of the Proceed. It won't be the I30N's sibling, but a close cousin. It may even have the detuned 2.0 engine from the I30N, but nobody knows about that yet. It's a sensible prediction, really.
I think it's safe to say that the Proceed is a welcome addition to a rather dreary niche that small estates are. The Proceed is arguably the best looking new estate car. Until Mercedes figure something out with a CLS Shooting Brake, it might even be the best looking new estate. Argue away in the comments on that one.
The interior quality lives on, improving every time Kia releases a new model. The Korean that was once the underdog has become a proper competitor, and with the competitive pricing and best-in-the-business 7 year warranty, the Proceed should sell well when compared to certain rivals. Some of the manufacturers that have rival models may have to rethink a few things, especially new generations of future small estates. Because, let me tell you, Kia's killing it right now. This Proceed should really be a firm assertion of that statement.
I hope that Mr Biermann (The man in charge for the likes of the I30N) sneaks in some of his input to Kia's Proceed. The standard car doesn't have to be excititng, but a performance version (Proceed GT-N?) of this beautiful Shooting Brake would be an amazing achievement and I've no doubt that it would be a worthy competitor to the likes of the Golf GTI estate or Focus ST Estate. Please make it happen Mr Biermann. We want it.