Developed with emerging markets in mind and built in collaboration with Kia’s Chinese Dongfeng partner, the Pegas launches in the Middle East with an eye on shoring up the brand’s entry-level end of the market. Based on, and slotting in below the Rio saloon in a Kia range that has been inching ever more upmarket, the Pegas is positioned alongside small saloons like the Renault Logan and Nissan Sunny in the competitively cut-throat B-segment.

Engineered to be cost effective and affordable for value-oriented, first-time and fleet buyers, the Pegas incorporates proven components, Chinese production and a rationalizsation of some better features, and well-selected equipment for maximum effect and prominence. Designed with a slim ‘Tiger-nose’ grille, big gaping and functional lower, and faux gill-like side intakes, chiselled bonnet, high waistline and ridged surfacing, the Pegas fits seamlessly into Kia’s contemporary design direction, without being overly dramatic or ambitious in aesthetic.

Powered by a sole engine, the Pegas’ naturally-aspirated 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine is mated to a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearboxes, driving the front wheels. Producing 95bhp at 6,000rpm and 132Nm torque at 4,000rpm, the comparatively lightweight Pegas is good for 180kph, 0-100kph acceleration in 13.1 seconds, and 6.1l/100km combined fuel efficiency. Under-square and slightly more torque-biased, the Pegas’ engine however revs freely and with a distant, slight and subdued top-end snarl.

Consistently smooth and progressive, the Pegas is as responsive at low-end and flexible in mid-range as needed to keep a fair pace at moderate inclines and on city, highway, and country roads. But at a constant 80-100kph between Jerash and Amman in Jordan, the driven automatic Pegas often dropped a gear or two to maintain or build speed. The manual’s better ratio range would offer improved versatility, but the smooth auto nevertheless seemed well-suited for flatter UAE roads.

 

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Riding on Macpherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, the Pegas is smooth riding and reassuringly stable on highway, and maneuverable, agile and easy to drive in town. A more refined drive than anticipated, the Pegas’ light steering initially seems somewhat vague at low speed. However, pushed a bit harder through corners, it weighs up with a more communicative level of resistance, while body roll and understeer are kept to a minimum.

Comfortable over Jordan’s lumps, bumps and imperfect road surfacing without wallow or much bounce, the Pegas gains its pliancy from its narrow and tall 175/70R14 tyres, and seemed settled on rebound after dips and crests. Affordable, efficient and more durable in the face of high kerbs and deep sudden ruts, the Pegas’ tyres also promote a more nuanced steering feel for road textures, car position and dynamic limits as it nimbly zips through switchbacks or city streets alike.

A narrow car with good ground clearance, the Pegas is well suited for busy urban roads and less developed areas. Inside, it has good sightlines and a comfortable driving position with rake-adjustable steering and easy to reach, user-friendly console and layouts. However, it could benefit from slightly lower front seat mounting points for taller drivers, when equipped with a sunroof. Meanwhile, rear seats are adequately spaced, if not as generous as its 475-litre boot volume.

Reasonably well-equipped, the Pegas’ features list includes a 7-inch screen Android Auto-, Apple Carplay- and Bluetooth-enabled infotaiment system, rear parking sensors, AC, electric windows, remote central locking, ABS, ESC and four airbags. Using some hard plastic textures, the Pegas’ uncluttered dashboard seems stylishly more upmarket than its faux leather or shiny fabric upholstery. Meanwhile, unexpected features lifted straight from the 1980s German executive chariot playbook include an integrated driver’s armrest and intuitively stepped auto gear lever motion.

Overall, the Pegas is a decent addition to the lower rung of Kia’s line-up and a credible alternative to existing players in the compact saloon segment.