Imagine walking into a dealer and buying a new Kia Pride. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, right?
In Iran, thanks to the mighty Saipa Motor Corporation, your dreams can come true.
I have fond memories of the Kia Pride. Or rather, I have fond memories of the sausage roll purchased from the bakery in Brockenhurst during my lunch break at college.
You see, there was a car dealer positioned halfway between the college and the bakery, so it was a good way of fuelling my love of all things automotive during the long periods between lessons. Don’t worry, I didn’t spill any crumbs on the Kia Pride’s ‘iconic’ whitewall tyres.
Kia Pride (In The Name of Love)
It was a car dealer of many delights. Alongside the Kia Pride, you could find the likes of the Mazda 121, the Mazda 626 and the Sao Penza. Sadly, the dealer has gone, replaced, like so many others, by houses.
But before you break out the Johnny Hates Jazz CD, your dreams need not be shattered. Book a flight to Iran and return with a Kia Pride. You could be home in time for Christmas.
The Kia Pride died in 2000, by which time some 30,000 had been sold in the UK. Pretty good for a little car that sold just 2,000 in its first year on sale.
Not that the Kia Pride was going to go quietly. Step forward Saipa, a company famous for the Iranian production of the Citroën Dyane, Renault 5, Renault 21 and Citroën Xantia, amongst others.
Production of a license-built Kia Pride began in 1993, before the Saipa Pride was launched in 2001 using 85 percent local parts.
Eighteen years later, the Pride lives on, and it’s proving itself to be rather flexible. In addition to the five-door hatchback, you can buy a four-door saloon (Shatchback), a plush ‘Deluxe’ version of the saloon, and a two-door pick-up.
And you thought Pride wasn’t acceptable in Iran…
Ain't too proud to beg
Power is sourced from a 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine producing 63hp in the cars, and 71hp in the pick-up. Indeed, as the lightest member of the quartet (900kg), the Saipa 151 pick-up is likely to be the whippet of the Kia Pride range.
That said, in an age of turbocharged 1.0-litre engines producing more horses than an Irish stud farm, you have to wonder how Saipa has managed to extract so little power from a 1.3-litre lump.
Predictably, steel wheels are the order of the day, although Saipa has seen fit to hide the 13-inch steelies behind wheel trims that offer motoring discount store levels of horror. Alloy wheels are available – and they’re rather tasteful. You’ll find them listed as ‘aluminium rims’.
Picking a favourite Sapia Kia Pride is tough. The Saipa 111 is essentially a Kia Pride reimagined for Grand Theft Auto or for one of those TV adverts when you’re not supposed to identify the make and model in question.
The Saipa 131 scores highly for its unashamedly Shatchback stance, amber side indicators, black bumpers and steel wheels, while the Sapia 132 loses marks for having ideas above its station. The ‘chrome’ grille, clear side repeaters and new millennium headlights aren’t fooling anyone.
Which leaves the Saipa 151 pick-up, otherwise known as the Kara, which means ‘capable’ in Iran. Capable it might be, but it hasn’t got a patch on the Skoda Felicia Fun or Proton Jumbuck.
For PetrolBlog, there can be only one – it’s the Saipa 131. From its Soviet-era styling, to panel gaps large enough to get lost in, it feels the most authentic. There’s even a cupholder for your sausage roll.
All that’s missing is a set of whitewall tyres and some Johnny Hates Jazz tunes for the journey home. Dream the impossible – things can work out right.