Kia Pegas 1.4 EX – Big car refinement, small car price tag

For decades, the sedan has enjoyed great popularity with South African consumers – people who simply required a sensible, practical and spacious family vehicle. In the last few years, however, manufacturers have started to shy away from the traditional family car, as demand for crossovers and SUVs increase.

Still, that doesn’t mean there’s no demand for sedans. They’re the third most popular body style in SA – with the A and B-segment making up over 39% of sedan sales in SA. Lacking a competitor in the local market, Kia has launched the new Pegas – a Korean alternative to the likes of the Honda Amaze and Suzuki Dzire. Unlike its main rivals, the Kia measures over four metres, giving it impressive boot space, passenger room and sleeker styling.

The front-end has the traditional ‘tiger-nose’ grille, sharing a lot of styling attributes with the Rio hatchback. The rear styling is tasteful and restrained, with reflector strips housed in the bumper. Finished in Marcato Red, it cuts a rather handsome figure.

Inside, you’ll find a seven-inch infotainment screen (with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth and Aux/USB capability), all-round electric windows, dual front airbags and Isofix child seat anchors. The higher-spec EX model gains artificial leather seats, cruise control and front fog lamps, among other features.

Kia Pegas
Both the LX and top-spec EX derivatives receive rear parking sensors and a reverse camera, as standard.

Interior space is impressive, with plenty of room for passengers. The rear in particular is cavernous, offering plenty of legroom – even for the tallest of passengers. Equally excellent is the cavernous boot. 475 litres of packing space gives the Pegas one of the largest load bays in its class, with plenty of capacity for luggage or groceries.

Up front, the faux leather-trimmed seats are comfortable and supportive, although I could have done with a touch more thigh support. An adjustable steering wheel and height adjustable driver’s seat makes it easy for most to get comfortable behind the tiller.

On the road, it is comfortable, the plump 175/70/R14 tyres and supple suspension working together to provide an absorbent ride. The 1.4-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol engine provides lively performance and refinement, fading into the background when cruising. The powertrain is notably quiet at idle, with very little noise permeating the cabin.

It pairs well with the five-speed manual gearbox, which is slick-shifting and an absolute joy to use. Changes are crisp and smooth, feeling more like a hot hatch than a well-priced family car. The four-pot motor offers up a decent 69 kW and 6,000 r/min and 132 Nm of torque at 4,000 r/min. In town, it performs admirably, taking off from traffic lights and intersections with gusto. On the highway, it sits at the national speed limit comfortably, with just enough power on tap to safely overtake.

Spacious and solidly-built, the Pegas offers up a feature-rich cabin, too. (Automatic EX model shown)

Kia claims an average fuel consumption figure of just 5.7 L/100 km. On our jaunt around Cape Town, I managed to achieve 6.5 L – not bad, considering the heavy midday traffic and generous use of the air-conditioning.

The steering is direct and has a nice heft to it, making it a surprisingly entertaining car to pilot. Not that it necessarily matters to the average consumer, but the Pegas is undoubtedly more fun to drive than its rivals.

The budget sedan segment is hotly contested, with plenty of competent offerings for consumers to choose from. They all offer excellent value for money, great fuel efficiency and plenty of space. The Pegas goes further than that, though. The comprehensive standard spec, surprising performance and entertaining dynamics make the Kia a class leader. Add to that the four-year/60 000 km service plan and five-year/unlimited km warranty (with roadside assistance) and, in summary, the Pegas is a more complete package than its rivals, making it my first choice in this segment.

Fast Facts:

Kia Pegas 1.4 EX

Price: R236,995
Power: 69 kW/132 Nm
Fuel consumption: 5.7L / 100km (claimed)
Top speed: 170 km/h
Rivals: Honda Amaze, Suzuki Dzire

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