With only a 1.6-litre engine under the bonnet and a 1359kg kerb weight, the Proceed GT simply doesn’t have the guts to go up against the latest generation of ultra-hot hatchbacks, but keep an open mind and there’s still a lot to like about the Kia’s performance.
A 7.7-second 0-62mph sprint (or 7.3sec to 60mph) is warm rather than hot, but it’s brisk enough to have fun with and like most turbocharged motors, there’s enough thrust in the mid-range to allow for good progress without expending too much effort.
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Thankfully, Kia’s most recently facelift of the Proceed brought with it some small engine tweaks which mean the 1.6 is no longer solely about the mid-range. While performance remains unchanged over the pre-facelift car, the Kia is now a little more responsive to low-revs throttle openings, and sings a more pleasant tune at the top end.
In fact, keep the car in GT mode – via a switch on the steering wheel – and you’ll enjoy the near-permanent presence of a subtle but sporty exhaust bark. Artificially-generated it might be, but it’s never loud enough to be intrusive and it’s a whole lot better than the bland drone emitted by the old car. It’s a subtle touch, but adds significantly to the Proceed GT’s enjoyment factor.
There still isn’t the kick in the kidneys delivered by more powerful rivals, but the benefit is that the Kia is a car you can drive hard without too much risk of smashing speed limits. The six-speed gearbox is pleasing to use too, with a short throw, precise action (though it can occasionally baulk if you're rushing shifts) and a round gearknob – the latter wholly welcome when others insist on using all manner of shapes incompatible with the human palm.