Kia ProCeed review: the estate car that's masquerading as a coupé

2019 Kia ProCeed GT
When is an estate not an estate? When it's a shooting brake? Regardless of what it is (or might be), the ProCeed is a handsome, Mercedes-inspired wagon

Is an estate car an object of desire? The answer to that question will probably depend. For those of a certain background, an estate connotes aspirational, comfortable middle-class living – see Jerry and Margo’s Volvo 145 in The Good Life.

For others, however, the estate is altogether more utilitarian; a car that one drives because one must, rather than because one chooses to.

How best to sell an estate car to those buyers who need, but don’t want one, then? Well, jacking one up on stilts and calling it and SUV would seem to be the most popular answer at the moment. 

But there is another way, one which this new Kia ProCeed has taken as its own. The ProCeed used to be a three-door hatchback with an apostrophe in its name masquerading as a coupé.

But now it’s a five-door estate, without an apostrophe in its name, that’s still masquerading – somewhat – as a coupé. 

Actually, that isn’t entirely fair. In fact, Kia markets the new ProCeed as a shooting brake – aping the larger Mercedes-Benz CLS and its more diminutive stablemate, the CLA, whose influence on the ProCeed’s styling is crystal clear.

The principle behind cars such as these is to take a normal estate car, chop its roof down and add a swooping, tapering tail, and sprinkle some marketing fairydust on it. Et voila, messieurs-dames – one shooting brake. 

Granted, like other modern shooting brakes, the ProCeed doesn’t quite offer ‘seats for eight persons as well as the driver’ or space for ‘four guns and a large supply of cartridges, provisions baskets and a good bag’, as ran the description of such things in Commercial Motor magazine in the 1900s. 

But it is more spacious than you might think. Despite that sloping roofline, the ProCeed’s boot is only fractionally smaller than that of the truly cavernous Ceed SW, Kia’s ‘proper’ estate contender in this class. It’s also bigger than those of a few supposedly larger estates, including those of the Mazda6 Tourer and Ford Mondeo. Hardly insignificant, then, although the small boot opening does make it less useful than its more commodious rivals. 

And while the rear seats aren’t exactly generous in terms of all-round space, there’s just about enough leg room and head room for two adults or three teenagers to sit abreast of each other. 

The only problem with the heavily sloping roofline and swoopy styling is a lack of rearward visibility

It is a shame that a 40/20/40 split isn’t available on the GT Line trim we tested; that seems like a slightly stingy omission. A larger problem, however, is the rear visibility – or, rather, the lack of it. The drooping roofline means the screen must be mounted low, but the driving position is still that of the regular Ceed hatchback – i.e. comparatively high – and as a result, all you ever tend to see is the front number plates of cars just a few metres behind. As a result, you find yourself all but ignoring the rear-view mirror and making far more use of the ones on the doors. 

Kia reasons that the ProCeed is enough of a niche offering that it’ll only be chosen by buyers looking for top-end specifications, which is why it sits above the Ceed SW in Kia’s range, rather than alongside it. Consequently, the range kicks off with the GT Line, which comes with dual-zone climate control, cruise control, sat-nav and heated front seats, and your choice of 138bhp 1.4-litre petrol or 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel turbo engines.

If you’re feeling flush, you can go for the sportier-looking GT Line S, which is only available with the petrol and Kia’s decent dual-clutch auto. Alternatively, Kia will also sell you a ProCeed GT, a hotted-up variant with the same mechanical gubbins and 201bhp 1.6-litre turbo as the Ceed GT we tested a couple of weeks ago. Happily, automatic emergency braking is part of a welter of safety kit that comes as standard on every model. 

Only top-end specifications are offered, which in a Kia means the car is absolutely loaded with standard kit

You might reasonably be concerned that this glut of sporty trim levels might make for a proliferation of big wheels and stiff suspension. Don’t be, for the standard car rides surprisingly well; yes, it’s taut, so you can feel the road surface beneath you, but it never crashes, shudders or becomes uncomfortable.

Inside, the ProCeed is a pleasant place to be, too, though that should come as no surprise given its interior is lifted wholesale from the Ceed hatchback on which it’s based. Read: a little uninspiring in design, but built from high-quality materials and eminently easy to use, especially Kia’s slick and quick-witted infotainment system. 

Wind and road noise are well contained, though the diesel engine grumbles and booms at low speeds and can sound oddly clattery when it’s started from cold. Even this intrusion quietens down once you’re on the motorway, though, which makes this a relaxing car in which to smoosh across the country. 

The ProCeed’s boot is only fractionally smaller than that of the cavernous Ceed SW, Kia’s ‘proper’ estate contender in this class

And when you find yourself on a B-road, you can have a reasonable amount of fun, too. The steering’s rather numb, but progressive, which makes the ProCeed easy to place into a bend, while the front end feels eager to go where you point it. Feed in the power and the ProCeed will hold its line well, though adjusting the car’s attitude with the throttle is probably a step too far. The ProCeed can’t serve up the same sort of dexterity or feel as a Ford Focus Estate, but it is still crisp, responsive, easy-going and enjoyable to hustle along. 

The way the ProCeed looks and the way it drives will likely please the heart, then. But what about the head? Well, in the new WLTP test, the diesel version we’re testing here managed a combined consumption figure of 56.5mpg, which is on a par with or better than most rivals’. And let’s not forget that, equipped with this engine, the hatchback Ceed is one of the least polluting internal combustion cars there is, according to the ADAC Ecotest, let alone one of the best diesels; there’s no reason to suspect its estate-esque counterpart will be any different.

Its price looks reasonable, too. You’d probably have guessed that the ProCeed is considerably less costly than the Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake, which is about the only other swoopy estate of this size, though for all Kia’s premium aspirations, calling the ProCeed a direct competitor might be stretching things a bit. 

Despite the 'sporty' trim levels, the standard car rides surprisingly well; taut but not crashy or uncomfortable

This diesel will cost you £1,430 more than a Ceed SW with the same engine, but given that that car will be of a lower specification and lack the more adventurous styling of the ProCeed, that difference isn’t unjustifiable. And even against more obvious rivals like the Seat Leon ST, the ProCeed stacks up well on price – as long as it’s a posh version you’re after, of course. Let’s not forget that seven-year warranty, either.

It might come with a slight whiff of marketing hogwash about it, then, but if you need space and don’t fancy a boxier estate or an SUV, there isn’t much to dislike about this new ProCeed. It’s smart, comfortable, good to drive, reasonably quiet, feels well-made, and should prove inexpensive to own and run. 

Yes, it trades some of its more workaday stablemate’s usability for style, but not as much as you’d think – and what you get in return gives the ProCeed an appeal all of its own. 

THE FACTS

Kia ProCeed 1.6 CRDi GT Line

  • TESTED: 1,598cc four-cylinder diesel turbo, six-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive
  • PRICE/ON SALE: £24,690/now
  • POWER/TORQUE: 134bhp @ 4,000rpm, 207lb ft @ 1,500-3,000rpm
  • TOP SPEED: 124mph
  • ACCELERATION: 0-62mph in 10.0sec
  • FUEL :ECONOMY 56.5mpg (WLTP Combined)
  • CO2 EMISSIONS: 114g/km (NEDCc)
  • VED: £210 first year, then £140/year

VERDICT: With the ProCeed, Kia has come up with an appealing alternative to the common-or-garden estate that isn’t a bulky SUV. Its list of positive attributes is pretty fulsome and, despite that tapering tail, it doesn’t want for boot space. Only the poor rear visibility and lack of a more affordable version than this one mark it down.

TELEGRAPH RATING: Four stars out of five

THE RIVALS

Mercedes-Benz CLA 180 Shooting Brake, from £27,410

Only this weedy petrol variant of the swoopy CLA can come close to the ProCeed on price. We wouldn’t bother. It’s quite smart inside, but it’s also firm-riding, cramped and not particularly great to drive. This older CLA is on its way out, and so much the better.

Seat Leon ST 2.0 TDI 150 DSG FR, from £27,245

In this form, the sharp-suited Leon estate is more potent than the Kia, but only available with an automatic gearbox, which pushes up the price. It isn’t as well equipped, either, though you do get a bigger boot with a larger opening, and crisper responsive handling. 

Mazda 6 Tourer 2.2D SE Nav, from £27,795

Ostensibly from the class above, the 6 Tourer nevertheless prizes style over space like the ProCeed’s. It is quite a bit more potent, and its interior feels far more upmarket, but surprisingly, it can’t match the Kia on boot space, and neither can it compete on equipment or price. 

*Lease price from list price shown in the article is correct as of 02/05/2019 and are based on 9months initial payment upfront.  Prices exclude VAT and are subject to change.  Ts and Cs and Arrangement Fees apply.