Kia Seltos: A sport of sorts


What is it?

THE names that identify different models of particular vehicles must be chosen by committees, or maybe computers. Some just don’t make sense.

A while ago I drove a Kia Seltos GT-Line, and loved it.

I’ve just got out of another one, that looks very much a twin of the GT-Line — but it’s called the Sport+.

Or Sport Plus, if you say it out loud.

The GT-Line had a 1.6-litre turbo motor, whereas the Sport+ gets a 2.0-litre normally aspirated engine that is not as powerful.

Okay, but there’s still a lot of poke in the regular 2.0-litre.

What puzzles me is the ‘Sport+’ term.

It’s no sportier than the standard, base model Seltos, but it does have a heck of a lot more features.

The latter, however, do not translate to sport, in any language.

Sport, in Kia-speak, and also in a whole bunch of other SUVs these days, apparently means extra goodies, wonderful sound systems, safety bits, you name it — but despite the ambitious name, you wouldn’t take any of them to a track day.

Guess that shows the era I’m from, when you had sedans and coupes, but sports cars were higher performance machines, often open-topped, such as Austin-Healeys, MGs, Triumph TRs, Morgans, Porsche Speedsters and such like.

Any young driver who has ever inhaled a whiff of Castrol R hankered after a sports car, one he or she could use as a daily driver and a racer on track days.

But the name has fallen into the marketing mix and is now affixed to all sorts of non-sporty vehicles.

That’s about the sole moan I can muster about the Seltos Sport+.

For the rest, it’s mostly in the five-star bracket.


What’s it cost?

Priced at $33,990 driveway, the Seltos Sport+ with front wheel drive, as reviewed, is also available with all wheel drive, although the AWD model has the 1.6 turbo motor and dual clutch auto transmission.

The FWD one gets a CVT, or continuously variable transmission.

You can spend a while picking out a Seltos, since they come in quite a range with $27,000 between the base S and the top-ranking GT-Line.

In between are six more models: S with safety pack, Sport, with or without safety pack, Sport+ FWD or AWD.

So what you get in the Sport+ includes 17-inch alloys, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, climate and cruise control, push-button start and keyless entry, LED interior lights, leather-trimmed seating, front and rear parking sensors, satnav, a good reversing camera, and a heap of electronic aids such as lane keep assist, Automatic Emergency Braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, rear cross-traffic avoidance, lane change assist and blind-spot detection. 

There’s also Qi (no cables) fast charging for your phone.


What’s it go like?

We liked the looks and size of the vehicle, the surprising amount of passenger and boot space, not to mention the Bose audio system with tweeters and speakers all over the show, and linked to the ambience lighting — like the early Kia Soul had.

Kia calls it a ‘symphony of sound and light.’ Impressive.

It’s a very pleasant thing to drive and to just be in, its suspension is very well sorted for a quiet, confident and comfortable ride, it barely jiggles over those annoying speed humps in car parks that can loosen dental fillings in some cars (especially genuine sporty ones) and of course, it comes with Kia’s trend-setting 7-year warranty.

It can run to 100km/h in about 9.0 seconds and stop from that speed in 3.0 seconds.

Official fuel consumption is 6.8L/100km. We couldn’t complain with 7.1L.

It’s a well-built and finished vehicle, great for an average family in terms of comfort, performance, economy and safety and has bags of room for everything.

Hard to fault.


What we like?

  • Appearance
  • Build quality
  • Excellent ride
  • Top interior
  • Super roomy
  • Feature-packed


What we don’t like?

  • Nomenclature. Where’s the ‘Sport’?


The bottom line?

One of the best in its class.


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CHECKOUT: Kia Sorento: Who left the bugs out?


Kia Seltos Sport +, priced from $33,990 driveway
  • Looks - 8.5/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 8.5/10
  • Comfort - 8.5/10
  • Tech - 8.5/10
  • Value - 8/10