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DRIVEN: Kia Seltos EX+ slightly falls short but it’s still a great SUV

2020/08/06

Kia’s new Seltos has found favour in South Africa. About 830 units of the brand’s latest member in the SUV stable managed to find homes in South Africa in the first two months of it being on sale.

COVID-19 or not, I keep seeing a bunch of Seltos SUVs on the road, and that should tell you something.

The last time I got acquainted with the Kia Seltos was at its launch in Cape Town in February, and I reported much about its driving dynamics as well as the new tech it brings into the market.

Sadly, COVID-19 happened, the lockdown was put into place, fleet entities were forced to close, and I had to wait until now to sample the Seltos for an extended period.

From level 5 down to level 3, I was able to get behind the wheel and do what I love. As a way to get going again, I recently tested the Kia Seltos EX+ that carries a starting price of R416 995.

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For that amount of money that Kia asks for its Seltos EX+, you get the familiar ‘tiger-nose’ grille, as well as a front end that is dominated by standard LED daytime running lights. The rear comes equipped with slim taillights that are complemented by a metallic strip that runs across the middle of the boot lid.

In terms of looks, the Seltos is beautiful to look at more, especially in the Intelligency Blue that was worn by our test unit. Depending on your taste, the Seltos is available in seven exterior colours, Glacier White Pearl, Steel Silver, Gravity Grey, Aurora Black Pearl, Intelligency Blue, Intense Red and Punchy Orange, the latter only available as a special order.

It runs on some sexy 16-inch alloy wheels shod with 205/65R16 rubber, and the good thing is that it comes with a full-sized spare wheel as standard.

Inside, the interior is beautifully designed; however, there is an amount of plasticky feel on the door panels. There are fake leather seats that I must say, are beautifully designed and were also a pleasure to have as they offer optimum support.

My test unit came fitted with an array of standard features such as all-round electric windows and cruise control. The 8-inch colour-touch screen infotainment system is straightforward to use. The system incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for my smartphone. Since the system does not come with a built-in Sat Nav, projecting my cellphone’s screen onto the Seltos’ infotainment system did the justice. There are two USB ports – one in front and one at the back which was also a pleasure to have.

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Speaking on space, the Seltos has 433 litres worth of space and the Whipdt team was able to load filming equipment with so much ease. There is adequate or let me say impressive legroom, headroom and shoulder room complemented by several storage places for items such as water bottles and wallets. 

In all honesty, the Seltos EX+ with its naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine is no performance SUV. The engine churns out only 90 kW and 151 Nm of torque and is paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

It tends to struggle a bit with accelerating oomph especially under overtaking prowess as the engine takes its time to pick up speed. So, a little patience is needed when driving it. It also runs out of power when tackling hills, especially with three or four adults inside, the engine would struggle to keep pace in demanding terrain, and it is worse when you pull away on hills as the engine gets incredibly noisy.

The ride quality is between firm and soft not to the point of being uncomfortable. I did not try to do a performance test simply because buyers of the Seltos do not care about how many seconds it takes the SUV to get to 100km/h. All they care about is practicality, but for argument sake, its maker claims it can hurdle from a standstill to 100 km/h in 11.2 seconds, and top speed is capped at 175 km/h; that is enough to help an average person keep up with everyday traffic. 

On the positive side, the Seltos EX+ is efficient. I only had to refuel it once during the seven-day period that it stayed with me. Without even trying hard to drive it economical, I managed to achieve 7.2l/100km. 

Likes

  • Sexy car
  • Spacious and practical
  • Fuel efficient 

Dislikes

  • Engine drones under hard acceleration
  • Cheap material inside 

Verdict

I am impressed with how the Kia Seltos EX+ goes about its business yet my pick is the GT-Line variant with its 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine. It addresses all the issues that I have outlined in this review. 

I will test competitors and will be more than happy to give you my findings.




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