Seltos is ready to flourish from the shadow of Big Brother
Baby, the car has shrunk.
Kia drivers could be forgiven for thinking they’re seeing double when they find themselves in one of the Korean marque’s shiny new showrooms.
And it’s all about this compact SUV, the Seltos.
It’s not easy to differentiate this little machine from its larger, more expensive and highly acclaimed mid-size sibling, the Sportage.
Having won two of the country’s Leading Car Awards in recent years, the Sportage has become one of the best-selling models in its class – so don’t be surprised if you see the Seltos follow suit.
While the Sportage has been in the Australian market since 1993, after five generations it has transformed from an ugly duckling into one of the most desirable models in its field.
The Seltos isn’t nearly as popular – its launch in 2020 was affected by the onset of Covid – but it is now ready to boom after recently undergoing a comprehensive facelift – hence the case of mistaken identity with the Sportage.
This is particularly true of the flagship model, the GT-Line, which, like the Sportage, offers an eye-catching dual paint effect (the test model was white up to the window line and black above) – highlighting the strikingly similar lines and stance between this pair of pigeons.
The same paint job can be found on a giant in this segment, the Volvo XC40, suggesting that the Seltos blends in with very good company.
It has landed in one of the real hot spots in the new car market, where rivals include fellow Korean Hyundai Kona (recently updated) and the urban SUV, the Venue. Not to mention the likes of the Nissan Juke and Qashqai, Toyota’s recently released Corolla Cross, and Mitsubishi’s popular Eclipse Cross.
Tested was the Seltos GT-Line, a high-end vehicle that Kia has used in models from the high-performance Stinger to its sedan and hatchback range.
In this guise, the Seltos doesn’t want the power nor the technology and features despite the $47,690 price tag.
However, despite its modest size, it offers impressive interior space, with mature road manners. The well-designed ride is complemented by sharp, exhilarating steering and the balance and sturdiness of a greater machine. It feels especially at home on the open road.
Seltos are offered in three grades (S, Sport and GT-Line) with a choice of two engines (a 2.0-liter, normally aspirated four in the lower trims and a lively 1.6-liter, turbocharged four in the top-spec model). .
There’s also the option of two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (only the S model offers a front-wheel drive setup).
While the non-turbo engine delivers a reasonable 110kW and 180Nm; The turbo produces 146kW with 265Nm to create a decidedly sporty character. It also gets an eight-speed automatic transmission instead of the CVT fitted to cheaper models.
The payoff comes despite the larger capacity, with the 2-litre consuming 6.9 liters per 100km on the combined cycle, compared to the thirstier GT’s 7.4 liters per 100km which is a bit thirsty for a small machine.
This leads to one of the few complaints about the Seltos – its small 50-litre petrol tank lasted just over 500km in an extended test – with the fuel gauge showing the tank three-quarters full one minute and almost empty the next.
No one would argue that active and passive safety features aren’t a good thing — but the Seltos is proof that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.
In particular, the speed sign recognition function and over-speed alert have been combined to make a test of patience, with beeps and bells tracking your every movement. It even overshadows the very impressive audio setup, including Bose speakers which are generous in a car of this size and price.
Less intrusive were lane departure warning and driver attention alert (with lead vehicle departure alert); Autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning and pedestrian and cyclist avoidance systems.
Put it all together and you have a small SUV that’s perfect for rush hour city driving.
A nice feature was the clever little display that rose from the top of the dash when the car started up – a welcome reminder of the car’s rapid performance warning.
A wireless phone charger (a must for the target market), excellent Bose speakers and something called Sound Mood Lighting for Taylor Swift fans, complete the desirable little machine.
Other features in this generous package include two 10.25-inch displays, one for the driver and one for controlling the infotainment system and climate control.
It also features heated and ventilated seats for driver and passenger, three-mode climate control and a power liftgate, which again is a nice surprise for a car of this size and price.
Also available on all three grades is Kia’s new infotainment system known as Kia Connect, which will provide remote engine start and door lock control as well as access to some applications. All of this, no doubt, will soon be on display in its Sportage replica.
Kia Seltos GT Line
Its clean design belies Kia’s impressive interior space, including 433 luggage spaces and room for four adults (or three children).
The turbocharged test machine is willing and feisty.
Its thirst rating of 7.4L/100km is good if not class-leading;
Entry-level models start at just over $30,000, while entry-level models are around $50,000 down the road.
(Tags for translation) Lifestyle