We’ve been driving Kia’s Rondo7 'Urban Recreational Vehicle' for just shy of four weeks and like our much loved toy poodle, it’s already part of the family.
It’s also been on its inaugural trip away from Sydney to a small country property, just south of Kangaroo Valley in the Southern Highlands with my wife at the helm, along with youngest daughter and mother-in-law (plus pet dog) in tow.
It’s a pleasant and picturesque drive through Mittagong and a mandatory stop in Bowral, due to the persistence of the six-year-old, for a visit to 'The Blue Brown Bag' confectionary shop for bags of English lollies at three times the price of the local variety.
On to Kangaroo Valley, a quaint little village that seems only to come alive on weekends and school holidays, the rest of the time I find it rather boring although, the old pub does serve some decent country fare.
From the town centre, the property is a quick 15 minute drive at 110km/h with local wildlife more a hazard than out of town visitors from India, who seem to be confused as to what side of the road they should be driving on!
From the tarmac – it’s another three kilometres down a fairly average dirt road (call it a track) to the front gate, and on up to the house.
Even in the wet, the fully loaded Rondo handles the steep dips, as easy as any of the more popular soft-roaders. Front-wheel-drive helps to maintain grip, and its higher than average ride height, avoids any contact with some of the larger rocks on the track.
For older folks such as my 70-year old mother-in-law or anyone with troublesome knees or hips, the Rondo is a breath of fresh air for both entry and exit, a benefit of that extra ride height.
While this diminutive looking people mover will carry seven people in relative comfort, with stadium style seating in all three rows, don’t think for one minute that Kia has provided anything but car like handling with this chassis. It’s certainly more capable than I would have expected in this class of vehicle.
Turn into any corner, and there is little, if any, bodyroll. In fact, the Rondo corners more like a well-engineered hatch than a seven-seat people mover in this price range has any right to. You really can throw this thing around without any nasty side effects.
Whilst we still contend that the 2.0-litre engine could only ever be categorised as ‘sufficient’ for urban duties in hilly cities such as Sydney, out on the freeway, it’s a much better story.
Even with its four-speed auto, highway cruising at 110km/h is a breeze and an altogether quiet affair. Top speed for this EX-Limited variant is listed as 181km/h and while that may well be achievable, overtaking is certainly a safe practice in the Rondo7.
With over 200-kilometres of highway driving included in this trip, we also saw a substantial improvement in the car’s fuel economy, with a recorded 7.92L/100km.
The only gripe we seem to have with the Rondo7 is the heat generated inside the cabin on a warm day, seems to be excessive through the windscreen although, the air-conditioning system copes well enough if the fan speed is dialed up. It could be that the additional height of the car and the entry point of the sun is part of the issue, or the tint is perhaps too light.
Stay tuned for the Sydney to Gold Coast drive in December.