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Kia Proceed: Test drive

Date: 28 January 2008   |   Author: Guy Bird

Category: Lower medium
Price: £11,795-£15,495
Key Rival: Vauxhall Astra 3dr

Kia has never had a desirable 'halo' car, but the new Proceed - the three-door version of the five-door Ceed - could be it, especially in white.

Longer by 15mm, lower by 30mm and lighter by 85kg, the Proceed is more than a Ceed with two doors removed. Externally it only shares its front wings and bonnet with its Ceed five-door brother, while chunky 17-inch alloys help create a genuinely sporty look.

Kia Proceed.gif

Inside, the dash maybe similar but improved detailing, such as alu pedals and exposed silver upholstery stitching, raise the tone. Indeed, the three-door is better specified than the five-door at each trim level to compensate for directly equivalent pricing - a strategy Kia hopes will see the Proceed seen as a "sporty brother" to the Ceed rather than as a lesser-doored, entry-level underling.

It's practical too. Two long front doors give good access, and six-footers will find no problem with rear headroom. Seats fold easily, but not completely flat, to make an 1130-litre max luggage space - 170 litres less than the five-door, but still useful.

The engine range consists of two petrols (105PS 1.4 and 126PS 1.6) and three diesels (a 90PS and 115PS 1.6 plus a 140PS 2.0). Only the base 1.4-litre petrol will arrive after the February launch later in 2008.

Of the bunch, the higher-powered 115PS 1.6 diesel is expected to be the biggest seller, offering 58.9mpg and a 126g/km CO2 figure. Power is quite sufficient for life in and out of town, and ride comfort good on rough and smooth roads alike. The 1.6 petrol is almost as decent, if a little lacklustre occasionally, but the 2.0 diesel Sport is a revelation. Taut steering, a firmer ride quality and little body roll through corners allow full use of the excellent 140PS engine. Teamed with a high spec (iPod compatibility and alloy wheels are standard across the range), seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty and reasonable pricing (sub-£12k to £15k-plus) means established volume players should be worrying. Range-standard ESP is the only safety omission.

The Proceed really does make old cheap and not so cheerful Kia models like the Cerato and Rio seem like ancient history.