The company’s most daring design yet?

Launched in 2006 as a replacement for the Cerato, the Kia Cee’d is now one of the company’s most popular vehicles in Europe. Redesigned in 2012 into a more modern, better-looking car, the Cee’d, along with its Procee’d, GT, and station wagon variants, is getting a little long in the tooth, and a third-generation model is likely under way for 2018. While we don’t know much about it, Kia unveiled the Proceed concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show, giving us a good glimpse of what the next-gen Cee’d might bring to the table.

Described as an "extended hot hatch that presents a new body type for Kia," the Proceed concept appears to be the bastard child of a Kia Stinger and a low, sleek shooting brake. And it’s one of Kia’s most intriguing design to date. Not surprisingly, it was penned at the company’s European design center in Frankfurt, only 500 meters (0.3 miles) from where it will be unveiled. Kia also says that the Proceed concept indicates what the next-generation Cee’d "could look like," so we might be looking at a fancier version of the upcoming hatchback.

Continue reading to learn more about the Kia Proceed Concept.

Exterior

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The Proceed Concept is unlike any other Kia design until now

The Proceed Concept is unlike any other Kia design until now. And that’s not because it features many wild-looking cues, but due to its body type. Combining the long-roof looks of a station wagon with the sportiness of a shooting brake, Proceed concept is definitely unique for the brand. Kia says that show car "indicates what the next-generation Cee’d could look like," and while it’s not yet clear whether the Koreans plan to offer a shooting brake version of the Cee’d, it’s pretty obvious that the upcoming compact will be quite appealing to look at.

The front-end design is new but somewhat familiar, with the headlamps, the "Tigernose" grille that’s thinner in the center, and the sharp bumper intakes being borrowed from previous concept cars. Actually, we can see similar cues on the Kia Stinger, which suggests that this new design will find its way on more of the company’s models, including the upcoming Cee’d.

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The front-end design is new but somewhat familiar, with some features borrowed from the Stinger sedan

But while the front fascia is far from new, the profile is a new design for Kia. The rakish roofline and the muscular proportions turn the Proceed into the most aggressive Kia ever built. Yes, it looks sportier than the Stinger too!

The profile’s wild look is further enhanced by the dramatic window frame, which follows the roofline toward the back, the missing B-pillars, and the "Sharkblade" elements with GT badges that replace the C-pillars. The fender strakes, the hidden door handles, and the deeply sculpted, black-painted side skirts add to the unique look as well. Finishing off the sides are six-spoke, 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in a two-tone finish.

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Around back, the thin rear window is complemented by a beefed-up bumper with fake vents, and a thin tail light bar that stretches from one fender to the other. The concept car also features a "Luminline" – an illuminated outline of the car’s glasshouse that "greets drivers as they approach the car." There’s no specific example of how this look, but Kia says that it "serves as a powerful nocturnal visual identifier for the Proceed concept, highlighting its fastback shape." Finally, the Proceed is finished in a bespoke Lava Red paint created by combining multiple hand-applied layers of black, chrome-effect silver, and red-tinted lacquer.

Interior

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The interior is a brand-new design and a tremendous work of art!

While the exterior is related to the Stinger sedan, the interior is a brand-new design. And a tremendous work of art! Designed unlike any other Kia interiors, the Proceed’s cabin brings together modern styling cues and innovative materials and features. The dashboard is finished in the same Lava Red as the exterior, which makes it seem as if the engine hood is flowing into the cabin. The layout is also similar to 1950s and 1960s U.S. cars, which had matching exterior paint and interior upholstery and dash.

But unlike most Kias you can buy in dealerships, the dashboard isn’t just a big lump of plastic. In order to give it that deep and rich look, the Koreans applied no fewer than 90 coats of paint. Design-wise, the dash looks simple yet modern. The passenger side is plain and simple, with no detailing and trim, while the center screen is rather unusual, in the sense that it’s thin and long. It’s also tilted toward the driver, a feature usually found in modern sports cars.

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The instrument cluster changes colors depending on the driving mode

Below, there’s a short center console that’s finished in the same Lava Red as the dashboard. There aren’t many details to see here, but the knurled aluminum buttons provide a great contrast. The center console is supported by a carbon-fibre spine that runs the full length of the car’s interior through the front seats. That’s a nice touch!

Moving over to the instrument cluster, it includes a large screen that replicates two analogue dials and displays some information in the center. The photos show a bright red background, but Kia says the color varies depending on the driving mode. Specifically, Lava Red turns on when the concept is driven in "GT" mode, which should be the car’s sportiest setup. Switch to "Eco" and the instrument cluster turns Forrest Green, while "Autonomous" model switches it to Ghost White.

The seats are also unique, being dressed in more than 100 meters of black elastane fabric

The dash hood sports gloss black and chrome details for a strong contrast, as does the flat-bottom, two-spoke steering wheel. The seats are also unique, being dressed in more than 100 meters of black elastane fabric. The soft material was cut, trimmed and tailored by hand to create rippled and ruched upholstery, which looks as fancy as it sounds. Granted, luxury cars usually come wrapped in leather and Alcantara, but there’s nothing wrong with using sustainable materials. The door panels are much simpler, but they are wrapped in glossy, hand-painted fabric that shifts from solid black near the window line to reflective red near the footwells. The split backrests of the seats are held in place by metal exoskeletons for a race-inspired look.

All told, this cabin looks top-notch and if it weren’t for the "Kia" lettering on the steering wheel, I would’ve guess it’s something designed by Mercedes-Benz or Audi.

Drivetrain

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The concept’s drivetrain is also a mystery, with not even a sentence about it in the press release. But assuming that this show car has an engine under the hood, it’s most likely a turbocharged, small-displacement unit. As a brief reminder, the current Cee’d is available with a variety of gasoline and diesel engines displacing 1.0, 1.4, and 1.6-liters. On the other hand, the Proceed appears to preview a higher performance version of the compact, mostly likely the Cee’d GT, so it would work better with a beefed-up version of the turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-banger that’s currently rated at 201 horsepower. Being a concept though, the Proceed could’ve showcased a hybrid drivetrain as well. But hey, I’m only taking guesses here. For what we know, there’s no engine to talk about.

Conclusion

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If I were to describe the Proceed concept in one word, it would be "gorgeous!" I’m already a big fan of Kia’s recent design language, but the wagon/shooting brake body style makes it irresistible. Unfortunately, it won’t make it into production in this form, not matter how many "shut up and take my money!" memes I will create as soon as I’m done with this review. But hey, there is some hope that Kia will build a sleek, higher-performance wagon in the future.

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References

2018 Kia Stinger

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Euro customers get a 2.2-liter with close to 200 HP

Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Stinger.

Press release

Kia Motors has unveiled the Proceed Concept today at the 2017 Frankfurt International Motor Show. Making its world debut in Frankfurt, and designed at Kia’s European design centre just 500 metres away from the Kia stand, the Proceed Concept indicates what the next-generation cee’d could look like.

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Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer Europe for Kia Motors, commented: “The Proceed Concept is our bold and engaging vision for a potential member of the next generation cee’d family. Embodying the spirit and athleticism of the current pro_cee’d, the Proceed Concept is an extended hot hatch that encapsulates Kia’s performance spirit. It’s an ambassador of all our emotion, our passions and our dynamic values. It’s the pro_cee’d reborn, more beautiful than ever before.

“The pro_cee’d has always been Kia’s performance halo model in the cee’d family. Since its debut in 2008 it has embodied all our driving passion, and the model that succeeded it in 2012 extended this dynamic lineage. However, with many European drivers seeking alternatives to the traditional three-door hot hatch, we began thinking about a new halo model.

“The extended hot hatch you see here could be an alternative for us. It’s a third body type - one that retains the athleticism of the pro_cee’d, but reworked and reimagined to combine a striking new visual presence with a dash of real-world versatility. The Proceed Concept is our vision of how the vibrant spirit of the pro_cee’d could be reincarnated and revitalised for a new generation of drivers,” continues Guillaume.

Exterior design: imposing proportions and compact proportions

Low, lean and lithe, the five-door Proceed concept marries its imposing proportions with a compact footprint that hints at its outright agility. The silhouette of the car is complemented by a series of distinctive design cues. The highlight line that frames the glasshouse extends to the rear tailgate, enhancing the car’s dynamic proportions. Together with the glass roof, the acutely angled ‘Sharkblade’, complete with GT logo, reinforces its lack of B-pillars. This in turn emphasises the dramatic roofline as its flows in to the rear shoulders. Lateral strakes further exaggerate the Proceed Concept’s slim waistline, and lend an air of muscularity to the rear of the car.

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Daytime running lights have become a key element in a car’s identity, helping other drivers easily identify Kia models, by day and night. However, in low light conditions, cars viewed from the side often lack bold design cues. The Proceed Concept uses light to highlight its fastback shape. Guillaume comments: “This inspired us to take a step further and develop what we call the ‘Luminline’ – an illuminated outline of the Proceed concept’s glasshouse that greets drivers as they approach the car. This serves as a powerful nocturnal visual identifier when the car is on the move.”

Further tactile and visual highlights include atmospherically backlit headlamps in red, stacked rear air vents, and large six-spoke, 20-inch alloy wheels with central locking nut. The rippled surface of its rear light strip is inspired by molten ferromagnetic metal.

Its stance and proportions may be new, but the Proceed Concept features many of Kia’s now familiar design motifs. The iconic ‘tiger nose’ grille, the sculpted ‘island’ bonnet inspired by the Stinger, the castellated windscreen, the full-length roof glazing, and Kia’s inimitable mix of curvaceous sheetmetal and taut creases. Each element singles out the Proceed Concept as a truly modern Kia.

The Proceed Concept’s body, including the low-mounted ‘Wingcams’, is coated in unique Lava Red paintwork. The result of a highly complex, week-long paintshop process, Lava Red combines 19 hand-applied layers of black, chrome-effect silver and red tinted lacquer for a glossy and lustrous paint finish. Incredibly sensitive to changing light conditions, its depth and metallic sheen further enhances the Proceed Concept’s contours and curves.

Interior design: inspired by bespoke tailoring and haute couture

“Colour and trim played a key role in the development of the car, and our discussions on the look and feel of the Proceed Concept’s cabin took place at the same time as our talks on exterior form. The two dovetailed together perfectly, which is not always the case,” explains Guillaume.

“Inspired by the world of bespoke tailoring and haute couture, we decided on a truly unique cabin environment enriched with materials used in innovative and unconventional ways – methods that might be familiar to fashion houses, but not in the automotive arena.”

The seats are wrapped in more than 100 metres of black elastane fabric, cut, trimmed and tailored by hand to create rippled and ruched upholstery, producing a striking contrast with the sleek and shiny instrument panel.

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The Lava Red bodywork creates a bold visual link between the Proceed Concept’s exterior design and its interior. Inspired by the visceral power and drama of an erupting volcano, the cabin’s striking colour palette combines fiery reds higher up with charcoal greys and velvet blacks further below. Finished in the same Lava Red as the bodywork, both the dashboard and steering column create the impression of the bonnet flowing into the cabin. The door linings are covered in glossy hand-painted fabric, graduating from solid black near the window line through to reflective red in the footwells.

The instrument and horizontal infotainment panels illustrate three intuitive, colour-coded driving modes – Lava Red for ‘GT’ mode, Forest Green for ‘Eco’ mode, and Ghost White for ‘Autonomous’ mode.

The four individual, interlinked seats feature a contoured welcoming wave – a hat-tip to the Kia Provo concept, unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The split backrests of the seats are held in place by metal exoskeletons to reinforce a sense of structural strength and material lightness.

The concept of combining lightness and strength is carried through to the minimalist and intelligently configured floating centre console. This clean and ergonomically-designed unit houses the Proceed Concept’s aluminium controls, which draw inspiration from the haptic, machined actions of top-end audio controls. The uncluttered console is itself supported by a visible carbon fibre spine that runs the full length of the car’s interior.

The Proceed Concept is a car that unashamedly appeals to the heart of the driver. While Kia embraces the future, it also knows how important it is to treasure the past. Performance cars are all about indulging the senses, and smell is the most powerful sense humans have for evoking memories. Guillaume and his team has recreated the ‘Memory Bank’ for the Proceed Concept – a flush-mounted shelf housed within the dashboard, containing a trio of evocative aromas.

“Each of these three engraved flacons contains a scent synonymous with power, passion and performance; aromas that any petrolhead will instantly recognise,” describes Guillaume. “There’s the warm musky smell of aged leather, the oily fragrance of a garage that’s home to a classic car, and the tang of high-octane motorsport fuel. This is about automotive passion and the love of car culture.”

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“The idea behind the Proceed Concept is the same idea that’s behind all of our concept cars – it’s to challenge people’s perceptions of Kia and start conversations around what is and what could be,” says Guillaume. “Because that is what Kia’s power to surprise is all about.”

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