Big SGMW turnout a real driving force at Kia test day

The annual Southern Group of Motoring Writers’ (SGMW) Kia drive day returned for 2023 for the second consecutive year.

This year’s event was held at Rhinefield House Hotel, located in the New Forest, where SGMW members were given the chance to test 14 of the brand’s latest models on the surrounding roads.

As with last year’s SGMW Kia drive day, this event also brings the group together to attend the Southern group’s AGM and the subsequent Heritage Day at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, just a short distance away, the following day.

Kia a driving day for SGMW members. The Soul EV was very popular. Picture: Ben Hodges

In total, 23 SGMW members made the trip to the New Forest, an excellent turnout for a group event.

On the day, Kia kindly provided the following models for the group to test drive:

  • XCeed 1.6 GDi PHEV 3 DCT.
  • EV6 77.4kWh Air RWD.
  • EV6 77.4kWh GT-Line S AWD.
  • ProCeed 1.5 T-GDi GT-Line S DCT.
  • Kia Stonic 1.0 T-GDi 48V GT-Line S.
  • Niro EV 64.8kWh 4.
  • Sorento 1.6 T-GDi Edition HEV AT AWD.
  • Soul EV 39.2kWh Urban.
  • Soul EV 64kWh Explore.
  • Sportage 1.6 T-GDi GT-Line HEV AT 2WD.
  • Sportage 1.6 T-GDi 48V GT-Line S DCT AWD.
  • Niro 1.6 GDi HEV 2 DCT.
  • XCeed 1.5 T-GDi GT-Line S.
  • Picanto 1.0 MPi 2.

According to Kia’s head of press and public relations Dan Sayles, the SGMW managed a total of 50 test drives across the 14 cars available on the day.

SGMW members and the Kia team at Rhinefield House Hotel. Picture: Andy Russell

They covered a total distance of 700 miles, far enough for 297 laps around Thruxton Race Circuit or a one-way road trip from the South Downs in England to either Prague in the Czech Republic or Gothenburg in Sweden.

From the wide array of Kia models available, the EV6 77.4kWh Air RWD and Soul EV 64kWh Explore were the joint most popular cars of the day with six test drives apiece.

Inevitably, there had to be an overall winner, and the Soul took the title as the most popular pick of the day, covering a total 77 miles, with the EV6 taking second place with 73 miles.

At the other end of the popularity contest, the excellent Sportage Hybrid received the wooden spoon as the least driven car of the day with two only test drives.

SGMW members were certainly very prolific when it came to putting Kia’s latest models to the test throughout the day too, with nine attendees managing three test drives each.

Kia Sportage. Picture: Ben Hodges

In second place, Matt Richardson (who was attending his first SGMW event) and Ben Hodges managed four test drives apiece, while the very busy pairing of Tyler Heatley and Tom Scanlan managed to complete five test drives each to earn a joint first place.

After the test drives were concluded, the SGMW’s annual general meeting was the final event of the day.

In the absence of chairman Ian Robertson, committee members Chris Rees, David Ward, Andy Russell and Chris Manning oversaw the year’s proceedings.

Notable takeaways included the brilliant group efforts and the significant contribution from car manufacturer PR teams that helped make this year’s SGMW Karting GP event a huge success, one that was held as a tribute to Sue Baker, who sadly passed away late last year.

Additionally, it was noted that throughout the past year, attendance of group events has continued to be strong, together with the addition of new members – making the 2022-23 year a hugely successful one for the SGMW.

SGMW members at their AGM. Picture: Peter Lorimer.

Chris Rees, SGMW secretary said: “One of the highlights of the year for the SGMW is the get-together for our AGM, which this year was kindly hosted by Kia at Rhinefield House in the New Forest.

“It was great to see 23 members of the SGMW embracing the opportunity provided by Kia to drive a wide range of its new models at a special driving day beforehand.

“To have such a big turnout of members is always pleasing, and the customary camaraderie was on full display. On behalf of the whole SGMW, I would like to thank Dan Sayles and the brilliant Kia PR and events team at Kia for hosting us at such a superb venue.”