REVIEW | 2021 Kia Pegas proves to be the right car, for just the right time in SA

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  • 2021 Kia Pegas sedan offers classic, compact sedan styling and no-frills interior design.
  • Economical engine and easy-going nature provides safe and confident mobility.
  • Has some quirks, but still a worthy contender for financially-savvy motorists.
  • For motoring news, visit Wheels24 

It's no secret that petrol is going to cost around R20 per litre come December. When we chat in our virtual meeting room about what the price of fuel is going to look like in 2022, we shudder from Cape Town to Gauteng in the Wheels24 'office'. 

My colleague, and friend, Charlen Raymond and I recently had a good discussion about a couple of cars we would like to buy right now if we were in the market and, of course, we honed in on vehicles such as Renault's naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre Clio RS from yesteryear, and funky Abarths like the 595, and some sizzling Honda Civic Type Rs.

However, this conversation did not consider fuel bills, which should be a priority when shopping for a new or replacement vehicle. Fuel is expensive, and as the cost of petrol rises, we're going to have to make rational decisions about the cars we choose to buy and live with.

2021 Kia Pegas
2021 Kia Pegas

Rising car prices

Car prices are rising, the cost of keeping them on the road is going up, too, and as much as we will admit that we do buy cars with our heart sometimes, it's time to start buying car's with some thought instead.

This sentiment segues to the Kia Pegas that we recently test drove. The car arrived clean and fresh in the Wheels24 Gauteng test garage last week, and it proved to deliver exceptional fuel consumption, but more importantly, it reminded us about how straightforward cars used to be... before we wanted things like self-driving cars and over-the-air updates in vehicles.

Would you consider the Kia Pegas as a family vehicle or would you rather buy a compact front-wheel drive SUV or crossover? Let us know in the comments section below or drop us an email here.

2021 Kia Pegas
2021 Kia Pegas

A simple, honest package

The 2021 Kia Pegas is a compact B-segment sedan that measures 4 300mm in length, 1 700mm in width, and 1 460mm in height. Its four-dour, three-box layout is as traditional as they come, and you get a large boot that accommodates up to 475 litres of luggage. As a family man, with a need for space for my boy's toys and numerous backpacks, the large trunk came in very handy for those trips to his grandmother's house during the week. The four-dour layout also made loading and unloading his car seat a breeze.

I could also manually engage a child lock on the rear doors, which gave me peace of mind that he wouldn't get the door open when he gets restless in the seat. Both of us enjoyed the space in the cabin, and even my wife commented that there's so much space inside, as the car looks diminutive from the outside, not that that's a bad thing.

2021 Kia Pegas
2021 Kia Pegas

The Pegas we had on test was the high-spec 1.4 EX model (69kW and 132Nm) with a five-speed manual gearbox. It came with everything we needed in a car, including electrically operated windows, central locking, and a capable audio system that allowed Bluetooth pairing and Apple CarPlay. The seats proved comfy, too, and the view from the cabin was excellent, and I didn't feel as though I was sitting too close to the tarmac.

We are so used to evaluating SUVs and bakkies these days, as those are the segments that are booming right now for OEMs, but genuinely speaking, it's so refreshing and confidence-inspiring to sit in a "car-like" driving position again. Incidentally, the Pegas' ride height remains respectable at 150mm, so you don't have to worry too much about scraping its belly on slightly gravel roads.

Does it have quirks? Sure. The car came with manual air-conditioning as standard, and it worked well, but I must admit that a simple climate control setup would have been nice to avoid constantly adjusting the heat in the cabin. I also didn't enjoy the central buttons for the windows, just in front of the gear lever. It makes sense for Kia to put the window switches there to reduce production cost as they don't have to move window switches from the left to the right doors for different markets, but I kept on reaching for the controls on the door as that's where I expected them to be in a no-frills vehicle.

2021 Kia Pegas
2021 Kia Pegas

The right car for the right time in South Africa

Priced at R236 995, the Kia Pegas represents exceptional value for money. It's not cheap, not at all, but considering the price of some A-segment hatchbacks on sale at the moment, you're getting a lot of car for your money. We like the fact that it's light on fuel and that it can accommodate small families with ease. We also like that it drives so well with a lightweight nature but can still feel solid on the road with good traction and handling for what it is.

It rained a little bit in Johannesburg while we tested the Pegas, and even in the rain, it proved easy to drive, and I felt safe and confident in the driver's seat. Sure, it's missing items that we would like to see in more cars, such as additional airbags (it has a driver and passenger airbag) and traction control, but it's not a deal-breaker if you need something affordable and easy on the pocket.

2021 Kia Pegas
2021 Kia Pegas

In summary

I have to come back to the cost of fuel at this point and say that if you're looking to reduce your fuel bill in the coming years, and you don't mind driving a budget-friendly car that's just built to mobilise you, this is the ideal vehicle to consider right now. We averaged 6.0-litres/100km after a week's worth of combined cycle driving, and that's not far off Kia's 5.7-litres/100km claim.

I will admit that I enjoyed revving out the engine a little bit now and then, as it's pretty feisty and fun.

Overall, we think the Kia Pegas will undoubtedly hit the right spot for you in terms of providing relatively safe, affordable and cost-efficient motoring pleasure for many years to come. All Kia Pegas models come with a five-year or unlimited distance mechanical warranty. You also get a four-year or 60 000km service plan as standard to help you ensure the vehicle is adequately maintained at a Kia dealer.

2021 Kia Pegas
2021 Kia Pegas

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