There are some automotive names from the past that are guaranteed to bring a sparkle – or even a tear – to the eye of a committed petrolhead.
Riley, Wolseley, Armstrong Siddeley, Zodiac and Austin are just some of the historic names which are no longer with us.
But there’s one other word which – until recently – had gone the same way and I’m especially delighted that Kia has reintroduced us to the “shooting brake”, a term which sadly has been missing from the designers’ glossary for far too long.
I was taken aback when I heard the term used at the launch of the Korean brand’s latest offering, the ProCeed, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been. After all “The Power To Surprise” is Kia’s slogan and they’re certainly fulfilling that… especially with the ProCeed, which they are describing as a five-door shooting brake.
The previous generations of the car had one of the most confusing names in the business with a combination of capitals, underscore and apostrophe which challenged the most precise of linguists. The former three-door coupe Pro_cee’d was a lively machine, but the third member of the family to carry the (simpler) ProCeed name is even more fun and completely different.
Once again, it’s been designed, developed and engineered in Europe at the company’s research base in Frankfurt in Germany and built in Slovakia alongside the Kia Ceed and Ceed Sportswagon, which were introduced last year.
It is quite definitely all-new and has taken an interesting approach in its styling, combining the space and versatility of a tourer or estate in a large extended cruiser. It shares only the bonnet and front wings with the smaller five-door hatchback and comes in three versions as GT-Line, GT-Line S or the high-performance GT model, in which I thoroughly enjoyed a spirited hour-long drive through the back roads of Catalonia at the Spanish launch.
All three have the same styling, the only difference being what’s under the bonnet, either a 1.6 diesel, with a particulate filter to reduce tailpipe emissions beyond the requirements of the latest Euro standards, or 1.4 petrol engine with a higher output for the GT. The level of equipment increases according to the version, but even the entry level manual petrol with an on-the-road price of under £24,000 comes with just about everything you could want.
On top of the comprehensive list of equipment, the top level GT-Line S, which is the featured car, comes with 18-inch alloys, razor-sharp LED headlights, wide sunroof, black leather and faux suede seats with grey stitching which are heated all round with a 40-20-40 folding split in the back, smart cruise control and a power tailgate. There’s also a premium sound system with additional speakers, as well as wireless mobile phone charging and all the latest safety systems.
But it’s the car’s looks that are the most dramatic. At first sight, I thought it could have been a cousin of the large – and considerably more expensive – Porsche Panamera, but better suited to its looks and proportions.
It is lower and longer than both the Ceed five-door hatchback and Sportswagon, creating a striking presence with a unique raked-back silhouette which is unlike anything in this segment of the family car market.
It’s certainly a bold move by Kia which takes the model family in a new direction, cleverly combining the practicality of the Sportswagon with a distinctive swept-back design which makes this car stand out on the road.
It feels like a big car on the inside too, even in the back where the hip-point has been dropped to offset the effect of the lower roofline, so even tall passengers are unlikely to have any issues with headroom.
Luggage space in the boot is actually bigger than in many conventional family estate cars and without a raised lip and a low ride height, it’s easy to load bulky or heavy cargo.
The car’s rear is what really stands out. There’s a wide bumper with large chrome exhausts at either side and at night the LED tail-lights which span the width of the tailgate, give the car a unique light show.
What’s really cheeky is the ProCeed name spelled out in capitals across the centre of the tailgate… just like the Porsche on the Panamera.
It also drives really well, thanks to a huge amount of work which has been done on the suspension to suit our roads and to make it agile and responsive on the bends while holding on to the “grand touring” feel associated with the shooting brake style when cruising.
More than 1.3 million Ceeds have been sold in Europe since 2006, making it one of the most successful models alongside the top-selling Sportage.
Much of that is down to Kia’s unique-in-the-UK, seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, which can be passed on to subsequent owners within the limit.
The whole range also represents very good value for money, but the new ProCeed has thrown a clever, and much-welcomed shooting brake card into the mix.