• The Kia Pegas range starts from R225 995.
• It is powered by a four-cylinder 1.4-litre engine that produces 69kW and 132Nm.
• A rear-view camera with PDC, seven-inch infotainment system and all-round electric windows are some of the standard features.
• For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.
Sedans are going through a funny transition at the moment. They once used to be the go-to choice for many buyers and currently find themselves suddenly deemed surplus to requirements, playing right into the hands of SUVs.
The light of compact sedans is still shining locally with the likes of the Ford Figo, Honda Amaze and Suzuki Dzire - all of which are direct rivals to Kia's newest kid on the block, the Pegas. The Rio was the Korean brand's last compact sedan offering, and who could forget the now-discontinued 272kW Stinger GT in a performance capacity.
Premium sedan offerings hold their own, but the general misconception is that almost every compact sedan will automatically be used as ride-hailing transportation. Kia knew they couldn't just match its rivals in terms of what they offered. The mould had to be broken for the Pegas not to garner 'just another Uber' comparisons.
A sedan with SUV credentials
The Pegas range starts from R225 995, which is the pricier option compared to its rivals, though what you get 'for free' justifies the price tag and feels like a more premium packaged option. In base LX trim, a rear-view camera with park distance control, full electric windows, seven-inch infotainment with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, electrically-adjustable side mirrors, a six-speaker system, and automatic headlight activation are some of the standard features.
The model we had on test is the mid-specced EX, which currently retails for R236 995. A single-engine option is offered across the range. The four-cylinder 1.4-litre petrol engine produces 69kW and 132Nm, but it won't provoke the Stinger by any means, but it provides a decent drive. The signature 'Tiger Nose' is what the kidney grill is to BMW models, and you could quickly be fooled to think it is a Picanto when looking from the front.
The exterior is minimalistic, but it is in the rear where another piece de resistance can be found. The key-operated boot lid serves as the entry point to the massive 475L capacity. The likes of the Amaze (420L), Figo (445L), Dzire (378L) and even the VW Polo sedan (454L) fall short and also hangs a number of compact SUV offerings out to dry in that department.
Having driven the Picanto 1.2 in Style trim earlier this year, the Pegas borrows the familiar leather-trimmed, three-spoke multi-function steering wheel featuring cruise control that looks part and parcel with the white and red colour instrument cluster dials. Kia followed the 'less is more' principle on the dashboard, relocating the front electric window buttons to just below the climate control buttons. Though it makes the interior look cleaner, its position might not be to everyone's liking compared to the typical door panel located ones.
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Is it a baby Stinger?
A resounding no. The 1.4-litre engine is meant to be frugal, not fast. The 14-inch alloy wheels make bumps and crevices in the road worse than it feels and sounds inside the cabin, most likely due to a lack of insulation. The five-speed manual transmission is decent, though there is a tiny lag when getting on the accelerator after a gear change, but it doesn't affect overall driveability.
Kia claims a fuel consumption of 5.7-litres/100km, though when driving according to the shift indicator, there is no way to increase range, and it only drops slowly. When speeds exceed the 120km/h mark, there is a warning light on the cluster that signals briefly before deactivating. A nice feature to have but can become irritating after a while.
The presence of cupholders and intuitive storage sections come in handy. In addition to AUX and USB connectivity ports. It also comes with a 4-year or 60 000km service plan and a 5-year or unlimited km warranty inclusive of roadside assistance. For an extra R10 000 over the base model, the Pegas in EX trim presents a better value proposition.
Overall, the Pegas is packaged together too well to simply be considered as an Uber ride. Yes, sedans might not be as popular as they once were, but Kia identified specific points and built on them. The Pegas has a solid base to build on, and the coming months will determine how the sedan fares.