CAPE TOWN – With the Kia Rio Sedan no longer available in right-hand drive, the local arm of the South Korean brand has launched the Pegas in a bid to reclaim a slice of the B-segment sedan sales pie. This sector of the market is dominated by the Volkswagen Polo Sedan and players like the Ford Figo Sedan, Honda Amaze and Suzuki Dzire see some action too.
With these competitors already offering impressive value for cash-conscious buyers the Kia Pegas has its work cut out for it but the folks over at Kia reckon that they’ve done their homework. This new sedan is built in China, primarily for the unique market of the Far East and with that the Pegas has a few unique tricks up its sleeve.
When it comes to budget-oriented sedans, exterior style and aesthetics rarely rank highly on the designer’s priority list. Kia, however, has done just enough here to keep this compact saloon from suffering from the awkward gait that some smaller sedans often possess. This is mostly thanks to the respectable length of 4 300 mm and wheelbase of 2 570 mm.
The front-end design is very much inspired by the current generation Rio Hatchback, with a thin version of the brand’s signature ‘tiger nose’ grille and foglamps lined in chrome. Round the side you’ll find matching chrome-finished door handles and 14-inch alloy wheels shod in chunky 175/70 rubber at each corner. The rear is more conservative and the rounded lights remind us of the Fiat Tipo sedan. On the boot lid there’s an old-school lock in the centre and that’s pretty much it. Aimed at young families, fleet buyers and retirees alike, the inoffensive metalwork should work in its favour over the long run.
Step inside and it’s all very familiar Kia fare with solid, if not hard, plastic finishes and clear, easy-to-use dials and switches. The facia is completely black with cream inserts on the doors to match the two-tone seats. It must be said that the seats themselves are comfortable, with height adjustment and a folding armrest on the driver’s chair, but the cushions are flat and lack lateral support. The combination of the shape of the chairs and the slippery faux leather upholstery could have smaller passengers moving about in their seats more than they’d like. The overall fit and finish is on par with what you’d expect from a Picanto or Rio, with the exception of flimsy feeling switches on the centre console, which operate the electric windows.
The multi-function steering wheel is a highlight, offering cruise control, cell phone and audio controls, and it is wrapped in a soft high-quality leather. The ergonomics are spot on too with the 7,0-inch infotainment system falling easily to hand with tactile rotary knobs for the air conditioning.
The aforementioned touch-screen offers both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality and to our delight offers physical short-cut buttons to the left of the screen as well as a physical volume knob within easy reach for the front passenger. The usual features like Bluetooth, a USB port, 12V socket and onboard trip computer are included as standard. The Pegas 1,4 EX that we drove features six speakers and also offers a reverse camera with park distance control, automatic headlights, electric windows all-round, electric mirrors, remote central locking, dual front airbags, ABS and ISOFIX child-seat anchors.
Under the bonnet of the Kia Pegas is the same 1,4-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine that you’ll find in the Rio, however, in this application it’s slightly detuned, offering 69 kW at 6 000 r/min and 132 N.m at 4 000 r/min, rather than 73 kW 6 300 r/min and 135 N.m at 4 200 r/min. It’s not the most refined or hushed motor around but it’s certainly fit for purpose and is mated to a slick 5-speed manual that’s teamed with an incredibly light clutch pedal. The combination works well around town and it can hold its own on the open road too, with road and wind noise kept at an acceptable level. The performance offered is more than sufficient and is undoubtedly aided by the fact that the Pegas only weighs 1 036 kg unladen. Thanks to its lack of mass it’s efficient too and on the launch route in the South Suburbs of Cape Town we managed a more than respectable figure of 6.1 L/100 km.
The suspension is thankfully supple and deals with potholes and speed bumps with ease, however, this level of comfort has been made available at the expense of lateral control, with exaggerated body roll apparent even during low speed cornering. Dynamic ability is certainly not as serious a consideration in this sector of the market as value for money and practicality but for inexperienced drivers the lack of ESP and exaggerated body-roll could lessen confidence when behind the wheel.
In terms of practicality, the Kia Pegas stacks up well and features a well shaped boot with a healthy 475 L of claimed packing space available but the rear seats do not fold down and this could be a deal breaker for those who regularly need to transport longer items. Rear legroom is impressive too and headroom is only adequate for taller passengers but we look forward to getting the measuring tape out once a unit arrives for testing.
Competitively priced at R236 995 for the EX manual, the Kia Pegas does offer compelling value and on first impressions it seems like a very sensible and fuss-free product. It’s easy to drive, relatively spacious and offers a compelling standard features list at the price. A five-year, unlimited km warranty with road-side assistance as well as a four-year or 60 000 km service plan add further appeal making this small sedan one that deserves a test drive.
Engine:1,4-litre, 4-cyl, petrol
Power:69 kW at 6 000 r/min
Torque:132 N.m at 4 000 r/min
Fuel Consumption:5.7 L/100 km (claimed)
Maintenance Plan:4-year/60 000 km service plan