Today seems to be an increasingly popular day to release pictures and initial blurb about upcoming Paris Motor Show cars. After the DS 3 Crossback was leaked and then made official this morning, Kia have now shown off their new, de-punctuated Proceed online.
Clearly based on the Ceed hatchback’s platform, adding the ‘Pro’ prefix has ironically extended the rear end, to create this estate. This is confusing for two reasons…
Firstly, the previous Pro_Cee’d [sic] was a three-door sports hatch in the mould of the VW Scirocco, during a time in the ‘00s when many three-door hatchbacks (Astra GTE, Citroën C4, Alfa Romeo Brera, etc.) were being marketed as coupés on the grounds of having very small back windows and a relatively low roofline. Gregory Gillaume, Kia’s European design head, makes the point that the market for three-door hatchbacks has shrunk dramatically since then:
“Europe’s shrinking market for three-door hatchbacks brought the future of the Pro_cee’d in question. But it was equally inconceivable that we would simply kill off the Pro_cee’d. It was not just the name we gave to our three-door Cee’d - it meant so much more than that. It embodies all Kia's values of youthful dynamism, of emotional engagement, and of design-led desirability.”
As an upshot of this thinking, they brief was set to transfer the philosophy of the previous car onto a more saleable body style. As this new car was designed, developed and will only be sold in Europe, the region that favours the estate, they decided to make an estate that was “the most emotionally engaging car in the [Ceed] range”. Think along the lines of the Mercedes CLS ‘Shooting Brake’ but at the more accessible price level of a Ceed.
However, while that makes sense in isolation – especially after seeing the excellent Proceed Concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show a year ago – it becomes confusing in a whole new way when one considers that Kia already makes an estate version of the new third-generation Ceed: the Ceed SW.
So how have Kia’s European design team added emotion to a variant that, technically, already exists? The angle of the rear window is a clear difference, with Kia claiming that “the rear windscreen of the Ceed Sportswagon is angled at 50.9° off-vertical, while the five-door hatch windscreen sits at 52.4°. A defining element of its coupé-like shape, the rear window on the ProCeed is more horizontal, angled at 64.2° off-vertical.”
It also features the curvaceous DLO graphic with its chrome shark fin behind the rear door – although the DLO no longer reaches all the way back to the tail of the car, like the concept’s did, giving a strong-looking D-pillar instead.
They didn’t stop there though; while the front door appears interchangeable to us, Kia say that everything from (and including) the A-pillars back, is completely new for the Proceed. The tail is 5mm longer, the roofline is 43mm lower and the ride height is a token 5mm lower too. The boot’s 594L is 31L less capacious than the more upright Ceed Sportswagon, thanks to all that extra emotion subtracting some rationality.
It does look sleeker, with a Brera-like rounded rear featuring full-width LED tail lights and the same rear bumper trim as the concept version. Meanwhile, a new front bumper with revised surfacing that separates the base of the dividing surface between grilles to create large fangs, differentiates the nose.
The interior carries over from the other Ceeds, with sporty changes limited to more black trim, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and, for DCT-equipped versions, metal shift paddles in the back of the steering wheel. The Proceed will only be offered in GT and GT-Line grades, with no basic or mid-range trim levels appearing on this model.
More details, including pricing, specifications and release dates, will be unveiled at the show.
In the meantime, however, we can’t help but feel an opportunity has been lost here – on an emotional level, no less.
To keep it short, after seeing the powerful stance, miniscule front overhang, longer wheelbase and even sleeker roof of the Proceed Concept, we can’t help but wish this design had made its way onto the longer, rear-wheel-drive Stinger platform instead, where the transition from concept to production could’ve been more direct than this:
If only Kia had allowed themselves to be a little bit braver.