Kia’s posh push to become a premium mainstream player continues apace with the arrival of a sleek new ProCeed model next year, and Auto Express was invited for a first taste of an early camouflaged car.

The ProCeed follows on from the concept of the same name unveiled a year ago at the Frankfurt Motor Show. As well as dropping the ungainly underscore and apostrophe from its predecessor’s name, it has transformed from three-door coupe into five-door shooting brake; comparisons with the Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake are unavoidable.

Kia ProCeed teased ahead of 13 September reveal

Kia has done a fair bit of number crunching to realise people spend more on their CLA Shooting Brakes than regular A-Class models. So with the temptation of higher margins, the ProCeed will only be available in high-spec GT-Line trim with a choice of 118bhp 1.0 and 138bhp 1.4 petrol engines, a 134bhp 1.6 diesel or the 201bhp 1.6 GT model we’ve tested.

Getting into the ProCeed you’ll notice it not only sits lower than the regular Ceed, but the roof is lower, too. You slip into comfy sports seats, but other than a few bits of red trim, the cabin is just like the Ceed hatch – a pretty impressive place to be on the kit and quality front.

Headroom was a little tight, but more of an issue was the letterbox view out of the back through the steeply raked rear screen. All that is the price you pay for such style, though, and this is a really good-looking car that drives well, too. Front and rear springs have been stiffened, with other tweaks to the suspension and electronics to give the car a real GT feel. It rides comfortably for the most part, although you’re still very aware of bumps in the road, while the steering is accurate, if not full of feel.

The 1.6-litre engine provides a decent amount of power, but it’s definitely a GT not a GTi. Throttle response is a little tardy, though, but we’re told that could still be worked on before the car gets to showrooms in January next year. Our car had an impressively smooth and quick seven-speed dual clutch auto, but a six-speed manual will also be offered.

There’s a flap in the exhaust plus a clever sound actuator in the car that provides an interesting, but buzzy exhaust note that sounds like a few baritones join in if you hit the sport button. That also firms up the steering and makes a slight alteration (although still not enough) to the throttle response.

That low, sleek shape does look fantastic in the flesh, though, particularly from the back where the ProCeed’s full-width LED lights were hidden behind the camouflage. There are some lovely details, too, like the latest interpretation of Kia’s ice cube LED front lights and the shark blade feature behind the rear doors.

Back inside, and the getting into the back is a bit like stepping into a cold swimming pool – it’s all right once you’re in. Headroom is marginally better than in the front, while legroom is okay – as it is in the hatch, which shares the same 2,650mm wheelbase. That lower, sloping roofline makes getting in and out a bit of a chore for adults, though.

The boot has 594 litres of space with the seats up, more than you’d get in a Megane or Astra estate and not far off the new Ceed Sportwagon’s 625 litres. The rear seats split and fold with the tug of a lever, but there’s a short drop over the boot sill and the powered boot door reveals an opening that’s a bit narrow.

Prices for the ProCeed are expected to start at around £21,000 rising to £29,000 for this auto GT model – almost as attractive as the car itself. At the same time, a GT version of the five-door Ceed hatch arrives – it drives just as well as the ProCeed, still looks pretty cool and should save you a good couple of grand at an expected price under £27,000.

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