It’s an unusual derivative line-up that sees Kia’s 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine powering both the cheapest and the most expensive Proceed in the range (the more powerful, lesser-equipped 1.6-litre Proceed GT is, rather surprisingly, cheaper at list price than our test car) – and it gives this powertrain a lot of notional ground to cover.
On refinement, the engine gets off to the right start. Agreeably quiet almost all of the time except at low revs and under load (when an intermittent, just-audible, under-bonnet rattle-cum-flutter made its curious presence known in our test car), it has creditable throttle response and makes a usefully stout amount of torque through the lower and middle thirds of the rev range. At high revs, however, the engine becomes a bit wheezy, apparently failing to make any more power once the crankshaft has spun beyond about 4500rpm, and therefore undermining the otherwise subtle but effectively conjured sense of dynamism the chassis produces.
And so when you compare the car’s performance level against the clock with that of mid-range petrol rivals, it’s a bit underwhelming. The Proceed was the better part of a second slower than the VW Golf 1.5 TSI Evo we tested in 2017, both from rest to 60mph and from 30-70mph through the gears.
Where one of those measurements was concerned, the slight sense of clumsiness about the car’s seven-speed DCT was certainly a limiting factor. It prevents you from building any engine power up against the brake pedal during a standing start, so makes the car quite slow off the mark, and generally seems to struggle to swap ratios with quite the speed and slickness of the better twin-clutch ’boxes on the market.
The gearbox shifts smartly in manual, but Normal drive mode tends to make it upshift a bit too early to be the right gear for a swiftly taken corner or an overtake on an open road, while Sport mode tends to make it downshift a gear too many when you use a good lug of accelerator.
A slightly dead, poorly defined brake pedal is another primary control interface that hasn’t been tuned to the same standard as other elements of the Proceed’s driving experience; and, while it might not bother every driver, it contributes to a shortage of consistency that shows the Proceed up among the better driver’s cars in the class.