Kia and Hyundai have collaborated to bring forth two distinctive looking vehicles based on the same platform — the Seltos and Venue small SUVs.
The Kia Seltos comes in grades: entry S, Sport, Sport+ and the top rung GT-Line, with two engines and either front-wheel or all-wheel drive from which to choose.
We drove the entry level 2.0-litre S and mid-range Sport+ with a turbocharged 1.6.
Entry S is priced from $24,990 before on-roads, with the Sport + running to $31,490 with a 2.0-litre engine and front-wheel drive combo.
The same car with a turbo 1.6 and all-wheel drive goes for $34,990.
Kia’s website suggests the S is $25,990 driveaway, or $32,990/$36,490 for the Sport + with either the 2.0 or 1.6.
The 1.6-litre turbo that we drove is a pearler.
Compared to Venue, the exterior is more distinctive and perhaps prettier — but that’s a viewer’s decision.
It has the same basic front structure with LED driving lights that sit above LED headlights, but the look is more integrated.
The bonnet line is subtly yet noticeably different too.
The signature grille merges with the upper cluster and the clamshell style bonnet echoes the Range Rover Evoque, folding into the top of the guards.
Below the grille are scalloped recesses for normally lit driving lights.
The rear lights are a mirror image while the rear window line is thicker in profile.
S rolls on 16 inch steel wheels with plastic covers, the Sport + sits on 17 inch alloys, with 205/60 and 215/55 rubber finishing the package.
Inside, Seltos looks more integrated than Venue too.
It’s a cleaner and more efficient layout, with lines that are more sophisticated and ergonomic.
The plastics look and feel of higher quality too.
S misses out on DAB audio in the larger looking touchscreen which is mounted higher up the dash.
It has rotary dials for the aircon, while the Sport + gets an upmarket design for the climate control. This sits above a wireless charge pad.
Black gloss metal screens cover the speakers with a raised, pyramid-style look.
Cargo space is different as well, with the Seltos rated at 433 litres with the seats up.
Rear parking sensors are standard across the Seltos range.
The Seltos S comes with or without a safety pack and honestly there’s not a lot of difference.
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS) and Cyclist Avoidance is probably the biggest difference.
There is a slightly different Driver Attention Alert for the safety pack in the S, but S does miss out on Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Lane Change Assist (LCA).
There are also no front sensors.
Seltos is 4340mm in length and 300mm longer than Venue. It’s also slightly higher, at 1615mm with roofrails. Venue stands 1592mm.
Overall width is 1800mm for Seltos, while Venue is slightly narrower at 1770mm.
Ride height for the Venue is 170mm and 177mm for Seltos.
Kia has opted for a tauter suspension tune and it’s immediately noticeable in the ride quality.
Highway running brings a flatter feel to the ride but the harder tune also means more intrusion from road irregularities.
Driveline-wise the S comes with 110kW of power, the Sport+ 130kW.
The torque gap is greater at 180Nm versus 265Nm, with that second figure spread across a wide 3000 revs — from 1500 to 4500 rpm.
Transmission in the S is a CVT, with the Sport + running the now familiar twin clutch DCT for the turbo four.
Very good performance is offered by both, with CVT in the S laying claim to being the best in the industry.
The DCT is typically quick and crisp, but the CVT really takes on everything the engine can dish out without qualm.
Punch the go pedal in the Seltos S and there’s a moment’s hesitation before the torque kicks in and it begins to move.
The DCT has the same moment or two before the clutches engage, but both pose little hiccup in their performance delivery.
The Sport + has typical mid-range urge and makes for a relaxed highway cruise.
Kia quotes 6.8L/100km for the 2.0 litre, and 7.6L/100km for the 1.6 from a 50-litre tank.
We saw a best of 5.4L/100km in the Sport + with a final figure of 7.2L/100km.
The S delivered a best of 7.7L/100km and 8.6L/100km overall — all good figures.
Compared to the Venue that we drove at the same time, the S and Sport + have a different market appeal.
The exterior is either busier or more appealing, depending on personal preference — as is the ride comfort level.
Given the two makes are virtually the same in overall size, Seltos is better packaged, with a larger boot — yet loses out in no way for interior space.
When it comes to driving , the S is more than adequate, while the turbo Sport + is a sportier proposition.
Back to back the four cars all have their pluses and minuses, but with its emotional appeal the Venue is still worthy of consideration.
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