My partner believes that my favourite phrase is “Be careful” and that I have an in-built tendency – probably from being educated in Britain – to follow the law even in the most harmless situations. I am uncomfortable if I am ever asked to wait for somebody on double-yellow lines and as for parking on a cycle lane while going into order a takeaway, I’d rather have my nails pulled out.
It’s the same with our dog Ziggy. I am absolutely uncomfortable if the small Jack Russell is held in the front. After all, he has a harness and perfectly good restraint that plugs into the seat belts in the back which makes everything safer for him, us and every road user. But I am often pressurised to relent on the grounds “we’re just going up the road” or “he’s happier looking out the front”. Occasionally I have given in, but always feel bad about it. Our last dog, Sam, eventually had to have a ramp to help him get into the back. That will never be the problem with Ziggs. He always will be light enough to scoop up, almost one handed.
However, to be fair to both Sam and Ziggs, I have always liked the rear windows to open fully, so that properly restrained, they can still put their snouts out to savour the millions of new and old smells that are coming their way. Any car that has windows that don’t completely open, or worst of all just pivot a few inches, is already marked down a few notches.
So that was one of the many plus points about the new Kia ProCeed, a very tasty, well-specced, sporty looking cross between an estate and liftback – which the Korean company calls “shooting-brake” – that has just been launched.
This is an extremely attractive car with a very sporty feel inside and out – perhaps a bit low for my needs now. It has buckets of space, safety equipment and style to rival premium brands like the Mercedes-Benz CLA and a lot, lot cheaper at €28,945. Plus Kia’s seven-year warranty.
It’s a confident, well-balanced drive with precise handling. That the whole car is so much lower – or “faster” as the designers call it – may work against it. It reminds me of VW’s efforts, to have liftback offerings rather than a sporty adult estate. The rear-view does suffer from the low stance.
However, there is something rather appealing about the ProCeed and I think that Kia may have got in behind the curve of a hit back from the overwhelming drive for SUVs, at which the company is a master with, such as the Sorento and Sportage plus more recently the small Stonic. There is also a SUV version of the Ceed coming later this year.
There is only one version of the ProCeed at the moment with GT trim and the company’s perky, new 1.4-litre T-GDi petrol engine. There are also only three colours; red, white and blue. Nearly 600 litres of load space is around the same capacity as the Ceed station wagon, but double that of the hatchback, and the split folding rear seats give a lot of added space and versatility. Rear headroom is compromised, however, by the sporty look. Kia reckons that overall sales of the ProCeed could make 20pc of Ceed sales, with the hatchback and SW sharing 50pc, and the SUV having the remainder.
We are not great estate buyers over here, unlike our neighbours and the continent as a whole. The ProCeed is a good balance of sportiness and load carrying. If I was younger I would really like it, but then many years ago I wouldn’t have bothered so much about a dog’s comfort.