Kia plans to offer 19 versions of the new Slovak-built Proceed three-door hatchback line which makes its public debut at Frankfurt next month.

Like some rivals from European automakers - in particular GM Europe's Opel/Vauxhall Astra line - the Proceed has been styled to look considerably different from its five-door hatchback and wagon siblings. It is slightly longer (+15mm), lower (-30mm) and lighter, too, and Kia claimed the range, on sale early next year, will bring "more style and more sportiness to the C-segment in Europe".

"The new [version] offers consumers sensationally stylish looks with a truly sporty feel to the driving experience, while also retaining most of the practicality and versatility of the popular Ceed five-door hatchback," gushed Kia Motors Europe (KME) senior vice president Jean-Charles Lievens.  "With performance, ride and handling that is even more responsive, the Proceed (Kia actually spells it pro_cee'd) will attract European consumers who find three-door cars particularly appealing."

The 4,250 mm long three-door is built on the same 2,650mm wheelbase as the five-door hatch and wagon and, Kia claimed, offers class-leading passenger and luggage space.

"With the Proceed, we have communicated sportiness mostly through the car's exterior design," said KME's chief designer Gregory Guillaume. "At the front, we have extended the nose by 10mm and introduced a shallower grille, new-style headlamps, a wider, lower bumper with a prominent lip spoiler, a deeper central air intake and larger fog lights set in elliptical depressions.

"It is the side profile that makes Proceed truly distinctive. The windscreen is much shallower and the vehicle height is reduced by 30mm. The doors, which are 276 mm longer than the front doors of the [five-door model], have a unique design with a more prominent swage line that highlights the sporty character of this model and a beltline that rises much more steeply towards the rear of the car.

"The side window, C-pillar and tailgate spoiler are all new and although the rear screen is steeply raked, rear headroom remains good. Unlike other Ceed models, the exhaust tailpipe is boldly displayed," noted Guillaume. Honda's UK-built Civic hatchback line also makes exhausts a prominent part of the rear end styling.

Designers also re-styled the Proceed's rear seat cushion, which is now fixed, and re-engineered the 60/40 split backrest so that it is easy to release and simply folds down onto the cushion with no need to remove the head restraints.

The new body variant will share all engines with five-door models - there are five Euro4 compliant units with power outputs ranging from 90PS to 143PS, plus three transmissions. It will also share three equipment levels, 12 exterior colours and a wide range of options.

An optional sports pack, with 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres, stiffer dampers, sport-concept interior trim (with 'tyre-track' pattern fabric and silver stitching, plus alloy pedals and stainless-steel door-scuff plates) is expected to be a popular option, Kia said.

Though the new Kia factory in Zilina, Slovakia can make all 19 derivatives to order, model line-ups in dealer showrooms will vary by country according to local market needs.