Living with… a Kia Proceed GT

Rory White and Russell Campbell
September 02, 2019

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and that’s definitely the case with our long-term Kia Proceed, carwow’s news editor, Russell Campbell, explains all. 

Our Kia Proceed GT has had a busy month ferrying kit to shoots, providing holiday transport and getting the carwow team to the various car launches, all of which means I’ve barely seen the keys this month. And I’ve missed it. There’s nothing particularly clever or fancy about our Kia but, the fact is, it just does everything really well.

The dashboard is a prime example of this. On first encounters, it’s an uninspiring mixture of black plastics, old-school buttons and conventional dials, making the Proceed look decidedly old hat compared to something like the Audi Q3 we ran a few months back, which has a plush combination of squidgy plastics, smart trim pieces and huge infotainment screens. Hand on heart, though, I’d take the Kia.

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Physical buttons might not look as high-tech as a massive infotainment screen, but they do have numerous advantages. For a start, they never move and their function doesn’t change depending on what infotainment sub menu you happen to be in. In other words, there instinctive to operate when you’re attempting to not veer onto a pavement when you’re trying to find Radio 2. They’re also a million times quicker to access and I’m eternally thankful to have a real button for the car’s lane assist (I’m not a fan of the squirming sensation it puts through the steering) rather than having to find one hidden under a see of infotainment sub-menus. 

Then there’s the Kia’s build quality. Okay, so it falls short on perceived quality but the reality is that our Proceed feels rock-solid compared the Audi Q3 we ran, its posh cabin had more rattles than a newborn’s playroom.

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As we plough into month six with the Kia, though, we do have a few new gripes like its tiny 50-litre fuel tank, which means long motorway drives necessitate a fuel stop, and it’s 18-inch wheels and accompanying rubber-band tyres that send a wearing drone through the car’s body on nasty motorway surfaces.

Mostly, though, the Proceed is a huge banner advert for how far Kia has come over the past ten years and how much further it has the potential to go. Audi, Mercedes, Lexus and the like really should be worried.

Update 4

Think GT car and your mind will likely be drawn to an image of a rare two-door coupe cutting through an Alpine pass with a V12 growl as a backing track. 

Sadly, in carwow land, the reality is something quite different. The GT is a Kia, the roads are in Kent and the backing track is the shrill howl of an unspectacular four-cylinder. 

We’re here for a reason, though, and that’s to discover whether our Proceed has any right to carry a GT badge. Let’s deal with the looks first, and the first tick in the Proceed’s favour. It looks expensive – not Ferrari/Aston Martin expensive – but just classy enough to be a budget alternative to a Mercedes or Audi. For a Kia, that’s no mean feat.

The Proceed is a comfortable long-distance cruiser that doesn’t go all to pot at the mere hint of a twisting country road

And that feeling of surprising satisfaction carries through to how the Proceed drives. Driven at an enthusiastic pace its direct steering makes the car easy to place in corners, there’s loads of grip and it’s also reasonably comfortable.

Sure the engine’s more about mid-range surge than spine-tingling top-end acceleration, but it’s effective, and the same’s true of the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox left to its own devices, anyway.

Seize the initiative though and things quickly unravel. In manual mode, the previously unobtrusive gearbox’s slow reactions will quickly have you pulling your hair out. The sharper throttle responses gained by pressing Kia’s Sport button merely expose the fact that the engine quickly runs out of puff, and you soon tire of the exhaust’s drone in this louder setting. 

All of which only serves to further reinforce the Proceed GT’s credentials. Okay, bear with me, you see, if you want an aggressive body kit, a bone-shattering ride, frenetic power delivery and the ability to stick to corners harder than am inhumane trap sticks to rodents, you get a hot hatch. 

If you want a car that’s good looking, swift but also comfortable, you buy a GT – and, at this price, the Kia Proceed does a good job of ticking all these boxes.

Update 3

MTBing has been a big passion of mine since growing up in Glasgow, a city that’s blessed with some of the world’s best trails just a stone’s throw away.

That all stopped when I moved to the sprawling concrete jungle that is London, my pursuit of the sport stopping quicker than a full-sus downhill bike wearing big tyres and hydraulics. Riding a heavy mountain bike with saggy suspension in the capital makes about as much sense as commuting to work by pogo stick with lead weights in your bag.

At least it did until I saw one of those eBay deals that was too good to refuse and found myself in possession of exactly the bike I used to own many moons ago.

This sweeping roofline is enough to make owners of boxy SUVs weep

The new purchase means the Kia has recently turned its hand to carrying mountain bikes – a job it’s perfect for. Its large boot opening, and the neat way its seats fold flat into the floor makes loading a bike (even a big clumsy one) easy.

Being good to drive also matters – when you’re pushing into the sticks you may as well do it in a car that makes it an enjoyable experience.

Okay, there’s a suspicion that the Kia is an eight-tenths car that prefers to be driven quickly rather than at the ragged edge, but with a boot full of mountain bikes and mountain bike accessories, this is not a problem. Which makes the Kia’s nippy squirts of performance, well judged suspension and ample grip, perfect for the job.

It’s also a car you’ll not be embarrassed to turn up at the bike track in – smart enough to turn heads, but not so flash that you’re immediately hated by all and sundry.

Then there’s the return journey. The Kia’s heated seats take the pain out of weary muscles, their supportiveness relieves your back after a day in the saddle, and the Arctic blast of the air-con stops your core temperature resembling that of a furnace.

All of which is good news. We reckon Kia’s hit its brief – to build a car that combines style and performance, with comfort and practicality – absolutely bang on with the Ceed GT.

And the Kia has plenty of sporty touches like these dorsal fin pillars

Sure it’s not quite as practical as an SUV – the obvious choice for a biker – but it’s better to drive, better to look at and cheaper to run (you’ll get 40mpg with care), all of which makes it a car worth considering if you’re in the market for a spacious car with buckets of style.

Update 2

We’re still finding out if our Kia Proceed GT can do style as well as substance. The style bit it has licked: I think it looks fantastic in Fusion White and turns more heads than you might expect given the badge on its bonnet isn’t premium. Or German. But the substance part was yet to be properly tested – nothing a family holiday to Devon for the Easter weekend wouldn’t solve.

Indeed, the Proceed’s interior space and practicality were put to the ultimate test. Two adults, a baby and everything required for a self-catered break were stuffed into every nook and cranny. OK, so there wasn’t exactly room to spare, but given this is a stylish shooting brake, I was pleasantly surprised at just how good the Proceed’s boot is. And it’s made even more practical by the generous amount of under-floor storage.

Inserting a Maxi Cosi Isofix base and child seat on the back seats was no issue, too, as finding the slots for the Isofix mounts is simple work. The only slight annoyance was that having it behind the driver’s seat did mean I couldn’t have my chair as far back as I’d have liked.

The Proceed GT is also quite stiff over lumps and bumps, which isn’t exactly surprising given its sporting intent, but does wake up babies who are trying to sleep. A Skoda Octavia vRS or VW Golf R Estate are as entertaining to drive while remaining more comfortable at the same time.

Still, as I say, it is genuinely fun on country roads; it has a strong engine, its steering is light but quick and precise and it turns into corners and controls its body through them well. If there’s a weak link it’s Kia’s automatic gearbox, which can feel sluggish to kick down and respond to manual gear changes.

Nevertheless, as family transport goes, it’s ticking the important boxes and a few more besides.

Update 1

Choosing our latest long-termer got us thinking – if you’re looking for a stylish car that’s also practical is an SUV your only option? Well, our latest long-termer – the Kia Proceed GT – show that it isn’t. It’s a shooting brake – a car that blends the sloping roofline of a coupe with an estate-car style boot. Our car’s the GT model, so it comes with a body kit that includes side skirts, unique front and rear bumpers, GT badges and red highlights that are easy to spot against its Fusion White paint.

The paint’s the only option – pushing the Proceed’s price up to just shy of £29,000. Equipment levels are also pretty good – even basic Proceed models come with an eight-inch infotainment screen, auto-dipping headlights, rain-sensing wipers, front seats that are heated along with a heated steering wheel and automatic emergency braking. In this GT trim you also get LED headlights, a faux leather interior and an additional 4.2-inch display between the analogue instruments behind the steering wheel. Choosing the GT model means you also only get one engine choice, but it’s the-pick-of-the-range 1.6-litre turbo petrol with 201hp and a standard seven-speed automatic gearbox.

Impressions? Well, our first jaunt with the Proceed was a marathon 1,000-mile trip north and back with a big load. The Proceed gobbled up a naked bicycle frame without us even needing to put the back seats down and had room for another complete bike once we did fold away the seats – not bad for a car that grabs the attention of BMW and Mercedes drivers, at will. We can also attest to it being a brilliant distance car, the Proceed’s performance might not leave it competing with hardcore hot hatches such as the Hyundai i30N or the Honda Civic Type R – but it still has plenty of go for overtaking. In fact, the Proceed is a car that’s easy to live with every day, so its engine doesn’t have the laggy low down responses of the

Honda, while its passive suspension (no adjustable dampers here) is more comfortable than you’ll find in the Hyundai. You do get a Sport button to press if you’re in the mood and its increased throttle response makes the Proceed feel nippier, but it also pumps a synthetic engine noise into the cabin that sounds very fake, particularly when you’re not driving around like a lunatic. Another black mark is the gearbox which is fine in normal use but slow to respond if you attempt F1 style shifts using the steering-wheel-mounted paddles. So the Proceed is a mixed bag then – almost as stylish as coupe, nearly as practical as an estate car, close to hot hatch quick, yet just about as comfortable as normal family. Question is, is the Kia a jack of all trades and a master of none? Stay tuned for the next report to find out.