20 October 2023 – The annual Seven7 Drive in aid of childhood cancer awareness set off from Kia Sandton in Johannesburg on Monday, 25 September 2023 and concluded the seven-day adventure a week later at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in the City of Tshwane. The adventure drive – conducted annually during September, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – in the processed raised a total of R51,890, all donated to the Drive’s primary beneficiary, Cupcakes of Hope.
Now in its eighth year, the annual Seven7 Drive was once again supported by Kia South Africa, and spearheaded by one of the initiative’s co-founders, well-known adventure and overlanding journalist, Danie Botha, accompanied by South African motorsport legend, Hannes Grobler, and a group of enthusiastic, adventure-ready content creators. To aid the seamless execution of the Drive, Kia this year provided three SUVs for the adventure: a Seltos 1.5 CRDi EX+, a Sportage 1.6 CRDi GT-Line Plus and a Sorento 2.2 CRDi SX.
Turbodiesel engines once again proves fuel consumption benefits
The Seven7 Drive provided an exceptional test for Kia’s three turbodiesel SUVs, combining a variety of driving scenarios to test the respective drivetrains’ power delivery and fuel efficiency. The route – which covered just under 7,000km in total – provided a balance between typically congested city traffic, highway cruising, busy B-roads and even a healthy dose of challenging off-road driving conditions, including tarred and gravel roads, heavy rains and muddy terrain. Fuel consumption figures for all three models were diligently recorded and averaged over the duration of the trip.
“Despite several of my family members owning Kia vehicles, it was my first experience of the Kia brand and I must say, I was surprised and impressed. This trip certainly changed my perceptions about the brand,” says the legendary Hannes Grobler. “The Seltos CRDi is clearly the more budget-friendly offering in this group, but the automatic gearbox and 1,5-litre turbodiesel engine make for a solid partnership, both in terms of economy and performance,” he adds, noting the Seltos’ impeccable 6,64-litres/100km average consumption over the trip.
Equally impressive was the Sportage 1.6 CRDi’s average consumption figure of 7,82-litres/100km. “The Sportage’s 1,6-litre turbodiesel engine and seven-speed DCT drivetrain are efficient, modern and gets the job done well. The ride is firm and sporty, and the steering feedback is really good too,” comments Grobler. “Ground clearance was the least of the three Kia SUVs, and it was therefore a bit less suited to a rough-and-tough mountain pass like Naude’s Neck. However, it’s a fun ride on tar, which is what it was made for.”
However, it’s Kia’s flagship SUV, the Sorento, that stole the show, averaging an impressive 8,26-litres/100km. “The Sorento… well, it blew me away,” comments Grobler. “The cabin’s comfort and refinement are next level, and it is by far the best place in which to spend nearly 7,000km. The 2.2-litre engine is a gem, offering excellent refinement, economy and performance.”
Kia has undertaken several adventures over the past few years to demonstrate the versatility of its SUVs, in each instance showcasing how crossovers and compact SUVs can take its owners much further than they realise. “As a brand that proudly showcases its faith in its products through its Unlimited Kilometre warranty, we consistently encourage Kia owners to get behind the wheel and explore our magnificent country’s natural beauty,” comments Christo Valentyn, GM: Marketing at Kia South Africa. “Our vehicles are globally renowned for quality and reliability, and the exceptional fuel consumption figures attained by our three core SUV models on the Seven7 Drive once again proves that there is still a place for diesel-powered engines in South Africa.”
Support for Seven7 Drive fundraising initiatives continue to grow
The Seven7 Drive has evolved over the years to include a variety of additional fundraising initiatives that complement the funds raised by the Drive itself. The 2023 Seven7 Drive kicked off with a send-off dinner at Forti TOO restaurant in Pretoria. Renowned restauranteur, Fortunato Mazzone, upped the ante for the second edition of Seven7’s fundraising dinner, first offered in 2022, offering guests a four-course dining experience that included exceptional wines on Heritage Day. While the long weekend impacted attendance, the dinner was once again well supported, raising a total of R38,500 for the 2023 Seven7 Drive.
Also initiated in 2022, another of these additional fundraising initiatives once again saw South African singer, Mathys Roets, travel to the Eastern Cape village of Rhodes for an intimate concert. Support for this now annual concert is growing, with some guests travelling from as far as Barkly East to attend the concert. The majority of guests not only paid for their concert ticket but donated additional funds – one guest alone donated R2,500 on the evening. The now-established concert in Rhodes raised a total of R6,300 this year.
With the fundraising concert formula established, a second concert was added this year at the fabulous Karoo Art Hotel in Barrydale. The much-loved Louise Carver travelled from Johannesburg for this performance, and – as with Rhodes – some guests travelled from as far as Stellenbosch to support the initiative. The Karoo Art Hotel went above and beyond by baking cupcakes for every guest, hiding a prize in one of them. The newly established concert in Barrydale raised a total of R7,090.
More work to be done for childhood cancer awareness
“The need to raise awareness of the benefits to early detection of childhood cancer, as well as raising funds for reputable organisations that assist families who are affected by the disease is not only critically important, but also still much needed,” comments expedition leader and co-founder of the Seven7 Drive, Danie Botha.
“Some of this year’s participants had never visited the famous Ronnie’s Sex Shop in the Little Karoo. It was an inspired moment as, while there and explaining the Seven7 Drive, Ronnie’s wife shared that her 9-year-old grandchild was indeed also battling cancer. It’s a disease that affects families everywhere, and usually when it’s least expected. There are big plans in motion for the expansion of the Seven7 Drive initiative to ensure this critical job is done consistently, efficiently and with maximum impact.”