RoadTrip | Overberg ramble in Kia's Seltos SUV, understanding ceramics and canola oil

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• The Kia Seltos diesel is taken on a sojourn to the Overberg.

• This derivative is available in two trim levels: EX and EX+.

• The 1.5-litre turbo diesel engine produces 86kW/250Nm.

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For our previous issue (August/September), we took the petrol-driven Kia Seltos 1.4 T-GDi GT-Line for some 'tasks' in the snow-covered mountains of the Western Cape.

At the time we mentioned it was too late to acquire a diesel derivative for our planned mountain passes and snow searching trip, and also stated that in our view the new, smaller turbodiesel engine should perfectly complement the Seltos line-up.

Kia Seltos

2020 Kia Seltos (Ferdi de Vos)

Overlanding in the Overberg

Recently, we welcomed the chance to test this assumption, as Kia Motors South Africa invited us for a quick excursion to the Overberg region in the oil-burning derivatives. The aim of the trip? Well, besides getting to know the diesel models, it was also to support some interesting local businesses in the region walloped by the Covid-19 lockdown.

To recap, the diesel models (only distinguishable by a subtle CRDI badge on the tailgate) are available in EX or EX+ specification levels with the EX models available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed auto transmission. In contrast, EX+ models only come with the auto' box. The CRDIs are also the first Kia to use the new-generation 1.5-litre four-cylinder common-rail direct-injection engine, delivering a useful 86kW of power and 250Nm of torque. 

We set off on the N2 from Somerset-West, and first impressions of the smaller diesel confirmed our initial assumptions. It was quite willing up Sir Lowry's Pass, with good low-down torque but noisier than expected when worked hard. It also combined well with the six-speed auto transmission, but the manual EX derivate (we found out later) was even better.

Kia Seltos

2020 Kia Seltos (Ferdi de Vos)

Railheim

We turned off the N2, direction Robertson, and soon-after stopped at the farm Clairvaux on the outskirts of the Overberg town for lunch and to visit Rialheim, a ceramic studio designing and manufacturing handmade products that are functional and fun whilst exploring the use of African clay.

Rialheim was founded in 2012 by Rial Visagie with a small group of ceramic artists. The small company specialises in shapes and glazing techniques inspired by the diverse cultures and beauty of Africa (visit www.rialheim.co.za). After lunch and a tour of the factory (with a quick course on how ceramics are made) we set off for the picturesque Rotterdam Boutique Hotel near Buffelsjags River, our overnight destination.

railham

Rialham Ceramics (Ferdi de Vos)

Rotterdam Boutique Hotel

The elegant country retreat on the outskirts of Swellendam is rich in heritage (it dates back to 1794) and brims with grandeur. It is the perfect choice for a wedding destination, a honeymoon, family holiday, business retreat, or merely a deserved break. It is also famous for being the home of the late South African Grand Prix racer Ian Fraser Jones, and is still owned by the family today. 

Accommodation is in the historical De Wagenhuis and Fraser Jones buildings, and each of the 20 rooms includes a desk, seating area, free WiFi and some rooms also have a terrace. There is a small chapel and swimming pool as well, and game drives with sunset picnic in the Kam'Bati River Resort are offered.

After a lazy evening, good nights' sleep and a scrumptious breakfast the next morning, we departed for Swellendam driving past numerous bright yellow canola fields on our way to Southern Oil (SOILL), a modern canola oil extraction plant and refinery situated next to the N2. 

From a small business in 2009, SOILL has grown to a giant undertaking and is the pride of Swellendam. Canola seeds from farmers in the Overberg region are graded, cleaned and stored here in silos until used for manufacturing. The final product is refined, bottled and branded with the B-well label (visit www.soill.co.za).

We had lunch at JD Bistro in Napier before heading back to Cape Town with the Kia diesel Seltos purring contently all the way.  After our quick sojourn, it was clear that the EX Manual at R 410 995 is the model of choice in the diesel range, although some customers may enjoy the higher-spec levels of the EX+ Auto (R446 995).

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