Next week at the Paris show, Kia will show a production-ready new estate/station wagon model derived from the Slovakia-built five-door Ceed hatchback due to be launched in Europe in December. The wagon will be launched in mid-2007.

Kia will also show a ‘concept’ for the production three-door hatchback version – a body style essential to compete fully in the European C-segment – that will go on sale in December 2007.

The 4,470 mm long, 1,490 mm high, ‘sporty wagon’ is the second model in the new Kia model line designed specifically to contest the European C-segment and long-established domestic rivals like Ford’s Focus, GM Europe’s Astra and VW Golf. It will go on sale in a year’s time.

In a claimed first for the segment, the Ceed wagon has a tailgate shaped like an inverted ‘L’ with its hinges set back over the load area so that it rises almost vertically, enhancing access to the cargo area that has additional storage below the floor.

The wagon is built on the same 2,650 mm wheelbase as the five-door hatchback Ceed that will also make its world public debut at Paris.

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When the Ceed wagon goes on sale in September 2007, it will be offered with the choice of five engines, three trim/equipment levels and 12 exterior colours.

Kia didn’t say but we’d also expect a choice of manual (dominant here in Europe) or automatic transmissions and several diesel engine options (also dominant here).

And, if Kia follows the pattern set by its other models already established in Europe, we wouldn’t rule out being able to order at least one of the diesels with an automatic gearbox, either.

The three-door show ‘concept, officially named ‘pro_cee’d’, (we’ll henceforce call it the Proceed which, if memory serves, Mazda has used in domestic model names in Japan) is, Kia says, “based on the forthcoming three-door ‘sporty hatch’ version of the Ceed.

“Following on from the original [Ceed] concept car we exhibited at the Geneva Show earlier this year, our design brief for [the Proceed] was to create a ‘teaser’ for the all-new ‘sporty hatch’ which will become the third model in the cee’d line-up (after the five-door and wagon) from December 2007,” said Kia’s European design chief Gregory Guillaume.

Distictively-styled C-segment three-door hatchbacks with a swoopy, more stylish look have already made their mark in Europe, with GM Europe’s Opel/Vauxhall Astra leading the way, especially when fitted with the optional panoramic windscreen that provides fighter aircraft-like all-round visibility.

GME has also given the three-door version of its just-redesigned B-segment Corsa hatchback a sportier look than the more practical and family-oriented five-door and it certainly looks as if Guillaume’s team – based near Opel in Russelsheim, Germany, as it happens gave their rival’s new cars a once-over before penning the Proceed.

“When Kia’s designers created the [Ceed] ‘sporty hatch,’ they set out to maximise the differentiation between the five-door and three-door… models as much as possible, without losing the family likeness,” Guillaume confirmed.

“Consequently, the [Proceed] actually looks very similar to Kia’s new [planned production Ceed] ‘sporty hatch’ model with its dynamic, muscular and masculine nature.”

The show car will be finished in a colour called ‘Cashew’ that Guillaume said looks almost solid, but has a small percentage of metal flakes that give a “discreet sparkle”.

The wheels are a two-part design, with five double-spokes arranged with a recessed black power-coated centre and brightly polished convex perimeter spokes. They carry 265/30 R19 low profile tyres.

Like the concept, the production three-door ‘sporty hatch’ models will have a lowered roof line (down 25 mm compared to the five-door) and shallower side windows ringed in chrome trim that create a robustly sporty window graphic. Much like the three-door Astra, in fact.

Kia’s European design team began penning the concept last April under Guillaume’s direction after signing-off the styling of the production three-door hatchback.

“The introduction of [the Ceed] family (five-door, ‘sporty wagon’ and three-door ‘sporty hatch’) marks a major turning point in Kia’s history,” the automaker said.

“They are the first-ever models designed and manufactured in Europe, and will introduce a qualitative revolution for the brand.”

Graeme Roberts

Cee C-segment Ceed