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DRIVEN: New Kia Seltos steps up

2020/05/11

As we began writing this Seltos review, Kia had just released images of its new 7-seater Sorento and I must admit, the brand has taken its design cues to a whole new level. 

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The reason why we speak about the Sorento is that it follows the striking design elements of the smaller Seltos that we sampled in the Western Cape.

Arriving at the launch, we were treated to a business presentation at the Raddison Red Hotel in Cape Town where it was mentioned that the Seltos will appeal to younger and tech-savvy buyers. 

“KIA is well known for offering exceptional quality and comprehensive specification across its model ranges. The all-new Seltos delivers all of that, and more,” says Gary Scott, CEO, KIA Motors South Africa. 

Offered in three trim levels, EX, EX+ and GT-Line, we got behind the wheel of the EX+ as well as the range-topping GT-Line and they excel in what they go about their duties.  

On the outside, the Seltos still boasts the familiar ‘tiger-nose’ grille in the front while the rear gets some slim tail lights complemented by a metallic strip that runs across the middle of the boot lid. 

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All models come fitted with LED daytime running lights, fog lights as standard while higher specification models get full-LED fog lamps, headlights and indicators. 

It 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. 

In addition, the all-new KIA Seltos is also available with three two-tone colour options: Glacier White Pearl with a black roof, Intense Red with a black roof, and Punchy Orange with a white roof, the latter also only available on special order. 

Speaking of dimensions, the new Seltos is 4 315 mm longer, 1 800 mm wider and sits 1 620 mm higher. These dimensions have resulted in a meaningful interior space. 

There is enough room to accommodate reasonably tall passengers with ease.  

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The interior is well put yet we feel like the GT-Line should come more with premium material more especially on the door panels. 

We did not drive nor see the range-opening EX model but it is worth mentioning that it comes standard with manual air-conditioning, automatic headlight control, electrically adjustable side mirrors with integrated indicators, cloth upholstery, steering wheel-mounted remote controls, electric windows, cruise control, and an 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system that incorporates a radio with RDS, linked to six speakers. 

The Seltos is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone mirroring, as well as Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, and has charging USB ports for front and rear passengers. 

The range-opening EX rides on 16-inch alloy wheels shod with 205/65R16 rubber while a full-sized spare wheel is standard.

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The EX+ spawns an upgraded interior that includes leather upholstery, while the electrically adjustable side mirrors gain an auto-folding function. There is an armrest in the centre console. 

It runs on some 17-inch alloy wheels with 215/60R17 tyres. 

The top-of-the-range GT-Line is our pick and comes with sporty satin chrome and red trim, with gloss black and satin chrome detailing on the front grille, as well as bespoke, 17-inch crystal cut alloy wheels with red brake callipers. 

All exterior lights are upgraded to full LED units, with unique 3D layered indicators at the front. 

The interior is bestowed with GT-Line leather upholstery with matching embroidery, as well as a sporty steering wheel. Making a debut is Kia’s new Drive Mode Select system that incorporates a 2WD Terrain Mode. 

We put this new system to the test on a short stretch of gravel and it attested itself in a pleasing manner. The system offers different driving modes; Normal, Eco and Sport. 

The 2WD Terrain Mode also offers three modes: Snow, Mud and Sand. 

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We got behind the wheel of the EX+ that spawns a 1,6-litre naturally aspirated engine with 90 kW and 151 Nm of torque. The engine is mated with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The base EX model gets the same engine with a choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.  

The GT-Line comes with a smaller 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine with 103 kW and 242 Nm and is mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. 

The EX+ with its naturally-aspirated engine gets very little torque and that can be felt. It struggles with overtaking grunt and the transmission would go gear-hunting when the cruise control is engaged. 

The GT-Line with its 1.4-litre mill gets our thumbs up. The engine is good and shows the need to just get up and go. 

For the record, a 1.5-litre CRDI engine will join the line-up in the first quarter of 2020, also available with a choice of 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. Pricing will be announced closer to the local introduction.

In terms of comfort, both cars offer optimum comfort. The suspension soaks up road imperfections with so much aplomb. 

We did not test this but Kia says the EX models can dash from a standstill to 100 km/h in 11,2 seconds, with a top speed of 175 km/h while the GT-Line gets the same job done in 9.7 seconds en route to a top speed of 189 km/h. 

All models are equipped with six airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchors, ABS brakes, and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), as well as rear park distance control sensors and a reverse camera with dynamic guidelines. 

Likes 

  • Good looking car
  • Ride quality
  • Overall interior built quality

Dislikes 

  • N/A engine feels underpowered
  • Transmission whines

What we think 

The Kia Seltos is a great offering and if your budget allows, get the GT-Line and live happily ever after.

Pricing

As with all KIA models, all KIA Seltos models ship as standard with KIA’s industry-leading Unlimited Kilometre, 5-year warranty (inclusive of roadside assistance), and also include a 5-year/90,000km Service Plan.

  • 1.6 EX Manual R 353,995
  • 1.6 EX Automatic R 371,995
  • 1.6 EX+ Automatic R 389,995
  • 1.4 T-GDi GT-Line R 444,995

 

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About Author: Ntsako is an avid car fanatic and motoring journalist who enjoys driving and writing about all things cars.

Follow on Twitter @NtsakoMthethwa





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