Brian Joss –
In the first week of July, three men set off from the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on an epic driving adventure to raise funds for the Little Fighters Cancer Trust through the Seven7 Drive, in the all-new KIA Sorento.
But, Kia Motors South Africa added a twist to the tale. The three would not undertake their mission in the top-of-the-range seven-seat KIA Sorento SX AWD, but in the five-seat Sorento 2.4 LS, its 2.4-litre petrol engine powering the front wheels only. While some would rethink their options, the Seven7 Drive team didn’t think twice. After all, neither Danie Botha, off-road and adventure journalist, G.G. van Rooyen, Leisure Wheels photojournalist, nor Jan van Deventer, a logistics expert who counts top international film and television companies as his clients, were inexperienced travellers.
So it was no surprise that the Seven7 Drive completed its mission by driving nearly 7 000km through seven southern African countries in just seven days. Leaving from Pretoria, the team travelled to Windhoek, Namibia, on day one before heading to Nata in Botswana on day two. Lake Kyle in Zimbabwe followed on day three, with Maxixe in Mozambique on day four. From Maxixe the trio headed to Manzini in Swaziland on day five and Mokhotlong in Lesotho – via the notorious Sani Pass – on day six before finishing at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital on day seven.
“Driving 7000km in seven days on some of the best and worst roads Africa has on offer is no mean feat for any 4×4”, says Danie Botha. “And this makes the performance of the Kia Sorento 2.4 4×2 all the more impressive. It never missed a beat despite taking heavy blows on some of the pot hole-infested roads and gravel roads, and it even scaled the Sani Pass in cold and icy conditions. It exceeded all our expectations, including Jan van Deventer, the most sceptical member of our team, who now wants to buy the Sorento.”
Jan said he assumed they would be doing the trip in some large 4X4 SUV and the thought of whether it was possible or not never crossed my mind,” he recalls. “However, when he told me it was going to be done in a Kia, my scepticism was evident. When he added it was a 4X2, it almost overwhelmed me,” says Jan. “That said, after completing the almost 7000km on real African roads, my scepticism has changed into utmost respect. So much so that I would purchase one in a heartbeat.”
The all-new KIA Sorento 2.4 LS used for the Seven7 Drive received a handful of modifications, including the fitment of Bridgestone All-Terrain tyres, a custom-made roof-rack, and a funky, eye-catching body design by Graffiti. No mechanical alterations were made to enhance ride height or performance, and was a standard vehicle in every other respect.