DESIGNED, developed and engineered in Europe, the Kia ProCeed merges striking design with the space and versatility of a tourer in a five-door shooting brake body - and the GT is its ultimate example.
GT, of course, conjures up images of high-speed, long-distance sports cars and, with a top speed of 140mph it's certainly that. Its arresting styling even has something of the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo about it if you look hard enough.
Where Kia's other load-lugger, the somewhat boxy Ceed Sportswagon, majors on practicality, the ProCeed provides couples or young families with such estate versatility in an infinitely more stylish suit.
A shooting brake by design, it is lower and longer than the Ceed Sportswagon estate, its raked roofline flowing elegantly down into the rear shoulders; taut creases running the length of the car to extend its visual length.
Its steeply raked rear window also separates it from its siblings in the Ceed model family. In fact, it shares only its bonnet and front wings with the Ceed five - every other panel is new.
The GT is also differentiated from its ProCeed siblings by red centre caps on its 18-inch alloy wheels, red exterior trim detailing, red brake callipers and an uprated rear bumper with diffuser and dual exhausts.
And only the GT is powered by a 1.6-litre T-GDI engine producing 201bhp and 265Nm - available across a wide 1,500 to 4,500rpm rev range. It also only comes with Kia's seven-speed auto dual-clutch transmission (DCT), enabling quick-fire gear shifts via steering wheel paddleshifts. There's no manual because Kia claims trends are changing and there's ‘considerable demand' in Europe for DCT.
Although not a hardcore hot hatch, the good news for the enthusiastic driver is the development of the GT was overseen by former BMW M head Albert Biermann, now head of research and development at the Hyundai Motor Group. As a result the GT, which sits 5mm lower than its stablemates, has fully-independent suspension that's been tightened up with stiffer springs and softened anti-roll bars.
On the road that translates into sharp handling, well-controlled body roll, and strong levels of grip - helped by grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres - even under hard cornering. Technology also plays a role, with electronic stability control and Kia's Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) system fitted as standard, which helps reduce understeer around corners.
Before I hit the road with the ProCeed GT, I was lucky enough to take it for a few laps on the demanding Castle Combe Circuit in Wiltshire. Though no Civic Type R or Fiesta ST, it was brisk, confidence-inspiring and immense fun. The only fly in the ointment was that the gearbox auto-upshifts as the redline approaches regardless of what you do with the paddleshifts.
On the road, the GT is comfortable and stable though there is a little bit of noise from those 18-inch wheels on some surfaces.
A Drive Mode Select System enables owners to choose Normal or Sport mode. Sport adds weight to the steering and slightly quickens throttle responses while adding an addictive burble to the exhaust note.
The interior is a pleasant place to spend time too, with black leather and faux suede upholstery and oodles of contrasting red stitching. There's plenty of soft-touch surfaces, metallic trim, and Kia's easy-to-navigate 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which sits at the centre of the dashboard - itself handily angled slightly towards the driver.
Finding a good driving position is easy too thanks to a 10-way power adjusted driver's seat and a steering wheel which features both tilt and telescopic adjustment. The shooting brake design does reduce headroom for taller rear seat passengers though.
Despite its rakish design, the ProCeed still offers 594 litres of luggage space, more than many conventional compact family estate cars. With no boot lip, the low lift-over height of the tailgate also makes it easy to load and unload.
The GT features 60:40 split-fold rear seats, an underfloor storage area for stowing smaller items, and a bag hook to prevent groceries rolling around the load bay.
The list of features is also virtually endless - privacy glass, dual automatic air conditioning, Bluetooth smartphone integration, automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, heated front seats, heated outer rear seats, keyless entry, front wiper de-icer, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, reversing camera with rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights both front and rear, and front fog lights.
There's also a heated D-shaped leather-trimmed steering wheel, a premium eight-speaker audio system with DAB radio, USB and Aux ports for connection of a media device, and a wide tilt/slide sunroof.