Since my last report, I’ve covered plenty of miles in the ProCeed, and the positive impressions from my first month with the car have continued.
July began with a trip to Goodwood for the Festival of Speed, where I was marshalling on the forest rally stage. This was my first long journey in the ProCeed and I was impressed by its ability to swallow up the 132 miles I had to cover with ease. It’s a relaxing car to drive, comfortable and refined yet remaining composed over twisty country lanes. In truth, the ProCeed’s large size and modest power output mean it’s no B-road blaster, but it still put in a commendable performance, the engine providing sufficient grunt despite the car being fully laden with camping gear. On top of this, it averaged 43.8mpg, just 1.8mpg short of the official figure.
Given the provenance and performance of the huge range of cars at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a Kia would hardly be likely to attract attention. Yet, over the weekend, there were several knowing looks and the occasional comment from fellow marshals remarking on the ProCeed’s attractive styling. One passer-by exclaimed to his friend “Have you ever seen a Kia like that before?!” before informing me that all it was missing was a Porsche badge. On that subject, the ProCeed does bear a resemblance to the Panamera Sport Turismo, especially from the rear with its LED light bar. This is no bad thing from my point of view, and the ProCeed is far from a poor imitation of the Porsche.
After Goodwood, the Kia was put through a much tougher test, one that its makers probably didn’t have in mind. My dad was co-driving on the Nicky Grist Stages Rally, with the ProCeed being called into action as ‘chase car’ to provide auxiliary service at the end of stages. The rally was based in the market town of Builth Wells, with the competitive action taking place in the forests of mid-Wales. This meant the ProCeed had to tackle the notorious roads of the nearby military ranges (with gunshots audible in the distance), narrow country lanes and even gravel tracks, all while dodging the local woolly wildlife. The ProCeed came through all of this completely unscathed, while the rally car (an MG ZR) also made it to the end of the event without any problems whatsoever – a very unusual outcome!
The excursion to Wales also provided me with an opportunity to test the Kia on some of the finest and most demanding driving roads in the UK. This brought to light a couple of areas for improvement. Firstly, I feel the ProCeed would benefit from having a more precise gearshift. Most of the time, the slightly vague feel to the gearchange isn’t an issue, but when trying to execute a quick shift it can inhibit progress. More steering feedback would also be welcome to give a better feel of the road surface. While the steering is otherwise precise and well-weighted, the lack of feedback does rob the car of a sense of connection that would help enliven the driving experience. Nevertheless, these are fairly minor gripes for a car that, aside from its styling, does not give off any sporting pretensions.
Over the past month, the ProCeed has shown itself to be a competent long-distance companion that retains its composure even when the going gets tough. While the driving experience can’t quicken pulses in the way its styling might, this Kia has shown enough quality to convince me that it is worth considering as an alternative to a conventional estate. More on that next month…
Kia ProCeed ‘GT-Line’ 1.4 T-GDi 6 speed manual
Power 138bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 178lb ft @ 1500-3200rpm
Kerb weight 1378kg
0-60mph 8.8 seconds
Top speed 130mph
MPG (claimed) 45.6
Basic price £23,840
Price as tested £24,410