Kia now offers four SUVs of which Seltos (oddly they all start wit the letter S) is second in terms of size.
At one stage we were contemplating the purchase of a Seltos to replace our ageing Sportage which is finally out of warranty.
The big attraction was the price because along with its growth in size and prestige Sportage has sadly piled on the dollars.
Though it’s a smaller car Seltos olffers plenty of utility for two people and these days the petrol engine gets better fuel consumption than our diesel.
Seltos is up against the likes of MG ZS, Haval Jolion and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross — not to mention the Hyundai Kona.
What’s it cost?
Seltos was updated towards the end of the year.
The exterior design has been refreshed front and back, with new look headlights, a larger, bolder radiator grille, new front bumper and prominent skid plate insert.
Even the entry model S now gets alloys and turn signals have been integrated with the side mirrors.
Top of the line GT-Line gets new DRLs — in fact it’s the only one with daytime LEDs.
The rear has also been tweaked with new tail lights that compliment the front, connected by a reflector strip or in the case of GT-Line — an LED strip.
All versions get roof rails, a rear spoiler and body-coloured folding side mirrors.
The name of the game is keeping pace with the opposition, because the car will be left behind unless it continues to evolve.
Two engines are offered: a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated unit, available across all four grades, while Sport + and GT-Line are available with a revised 1.6-litre turbo together with all-wheel drive.
The 2.0-litre unit is paired with a CVT, while the turbo now gets a conventional eight-speed auto instead of the previous dual clutch setup.
Prices start from $29,9500 for the 2.0-litre, front-wheel drive S, rising to $41,500 for the GT-Line.
Turbocharged Sport + and GT-Line are priced from $39,300 and $44,900 respectively.
Our test vehicle, the 2.0-litre front-drive Sport + is $35,800, or $38,490 driveaway.
Standard kit includes 17-inch alloys, singlezone climate air with rear vents and a combination cloth and artificial leather trim, with a premium steering wheel and shift knob plus LED interior lighting.
There’s also auto high beam, adaptive cruise control, auto lights and an auto dimming interior mirror, front and rear parking sensors, electric brake with auto hold — but no automatic setting for the wipers.
Infotainment comes in the form of a an 8.0-inch touchscreen in the entry S while the others get a pair of 10.25-inch screens embedded within a single sweeping instrument panel.
There’s also Bluetooth, voice control, satellite navigation, AM/FM/DAB+ digital radio, and wired Apple Carplay and Android Auto, Sounds of Nature background tracks together with six-speaker audio.
USB-A and USB-C ports are provided in the front along with a 12 volt outlet, with another pair of USB-C ports for the rear seat.
With complimentary access for seven years and the Kia Connect app drivers can sync calendars, plan journeys with online navigation and access onboard features including live traffic alerts and real-time weather forecasts.
Seltos receives five stars for safety, with six airbags, a rear-view camera and autonomous emergency braking with car, pedestrian and cyclist detection and junction turning assist.
A lane keep assist system (LKA) with lane departure warning (LDW) and emergency lane keeping (ELK) is also standard.
There’s also Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Rear-Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (RCCA) and Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA).
Child seat anchor points are provided in the form of three tethers and two Isofix mounting points.
Head-up display is reserved for the GT-Line.
What’s it go like?
New Seltos is a very different beast inside. The old-style analogue gauges have been replaced by a sweeping digital screen across the range.
Interestingly, however, when you take a closer look, there’s a large gap between the two hidden panels in our photo which could probably be put to better use.
Thankfully, physical controls remain for such things as audio volume and temperature adjustment of the air conditioning system.
The seats are firm but comfortable, with height adjustment along with reach and height adjustment for the steering wheel — but the ambience of the interior is let down by a an overriding plastic look and feel.
Rear legroom is adequate, depending on how far back the driver is positioned, but a lack of seat padding could prove uncomfortable over longer distances.
The boot is a good size, but sacrifices a lot of space to a full size spare, with 433 litres of space that expands to 1393 litres when the rear seats are folded.
The 2.0-litre Atkinson style engine with multi-point injection (as opposed to better direct injection) delivers 110kW of power and 180Nm of torque at 4500 revs, compared to the turbo’s 146kW/265Nm — the latter from 1600 revs.
Its hooked up to a CVT style auto that actually does a pretty good job of harnessing the engine’s limited torque and not to offend us for the duration of our drive.
It offers Eco, Normal and Sport drive modes, but alas no gear change paddles. The look of the instrument panel changes with each mode (red for sport of course).
It is possible to change gears manually with the transmission lever and in this mode the CVT offers eight steps or simulated gears.
While Sport mode the throttle is more responsive, but it generates some surge and backlash that can be annoying.
Seltos benefits from Australian-tuned suspension and sits securely and reasonably smoothly on our bumpy excuse for roads.
Of note turbo models get a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, that promises better ride and handling. While 2.0-litre models make do with a simpler torsion beam setup.
Pushed hard the Sport corners impressively flat for an SUV, but being a relatively light and small vehicle is more subject to irregularities of the road surface, dancing from side to side.
Pulling out to overtake we were confronted by an on-coming car, but rather than pulling back in we punched the accelerator to the floor — unfortunately with no result.
So . . . the 2.0-lite engine has its limits and sooner than you might think.