Kia Seltos Review: Details Of A Powerfully Surprising First Drive

10 Aug 2019

[This article was first published on Vehicle specifications may vary by market.]

Customers are definitely every auto manufacturer's asset, and South Korea based Kia Motors knows this. We tested the all-new and soon to be launched Kia Seltos and boy does that SUV impress!

The SUV gets its name from Celtus, the son of Heracles and Celtine, and therein stands all the legendary strength, sportiness, speed and beauty this SUV has to offer.


In a crowded compact SUV market, and in a time where the industry is facing a recession, can the Seltos hold its own and find a foothold? We ask, does the Seltos truly have the ‘Power To Surprise'?

Here's what we discovered.


Design and Styling

The all new Kia Seltos is a head-turner. The vehicle is well crafted and draws attention wherever it goes. The SUV is designed to be sturdy and has a dynamic profile. Any angle in view looks elegant, handcrafted and present.


On the front, the Seltos gets a clamshell bonnet and an embossed Kia badge that flows smoothly over the signature tiger nose grille.


Flanking the grille, are the ‘Crown Jewel' LED headlights that are integrated with heartbeat styled LED daytime running lights. The Seltos also features a sculpted lower air dam and bumper. The bumper plays host to ice cube styled fog lamps.


From the side, the square-ish wheel arches show off some expected SUV ruggedness. The wheel arches play host to either 16-inch wheels or 17-inch wheels depending on the variant.


The Seltos also features muscular looking shoulder lines, and the black A-pillars makes one feel that the roof of the SUV is floating. The shark fin-shaped rear D-Pillar is another design highlight that adds to the mirage of the floating roof.


The rear part of the car features reflectors with an air dam design, and skid plates. Again, it features the heartbeat LED lamps, a rear spoiler, a dual muffler design and a chrome garnish in the center.


Interiors, Features, and Safety

The interiors of the all new Kia Seltos are gorgeous, and makes one want to keep looking. The SUV features honeycomb pattern leatherette seats or tube pattern leatherette seats, depending on the variant one chooses.


The seats are ventilated and one feels very comfortable in them. The Seltos features an eight-way adjustable driver's power seat. The driver and passenger seats feature recline and cushion tilt.


Rear seats feature two-step (26 degrees and 32 degrees) recline options, and come with a 60:40 split to increase boot space depending on requirements.


The rear seats offer good under-thigh support while head and knee room at the back is more than enough for those on the taller end of the tape.


However, any person sitting in the center will find their leg and knee room hampered by the transmission tunnel and the rear AC vents, and most owners will prefer to use the center armrest which plays host to twin cup holders.


Boot space stands at 433-litres, and can be extended to a whole lot more by dropping the 60:40 split rear seats.


The car has a D cut steering wheel that is smooth, feels light at low speeds and is a dream to hold on to. Driving through bumper to bumper traffic is a breeze and the steering is very responsive at whatever speed one drives at.


While we did not test all driving modes that change the characteristics of the steering wheel, we found the steering smooth. It offers ease of driving at various speeds.


The wheel does get tighter at higher speeds but this makes controlling that Seltos very easy. There is close to no play at all. We felt confident to take the car up to higher speeds, even through the rain.


The left side of the tilt and telescopic steering wheel features volume and media controls, a call answer and end button, and a ‘mode' button to change driving modes.


The right side of the steering wheel features a cruise control button among other buttons to use the infotainment system. The Kia Seltos also features push-button ignition, keyless entry and push-button folding outside mirrors.


There is well placed 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is integrated with the instrument cluster, and is possibly one of the best designs we've seen. It does not interfere with driver vision across the entire windscreen.


The touchscreen can be used to set up everything including navigation, climate control, the air purifier, sound mood lamp settings, the 360 camera view, driver assist functions, and the (HUD) heads-up display.


Sitting between the speedo and tacho on the 7.0-inch colour display cluster, is the multi-information display (MID) which allows the driver to access details regarding everything from independent tyre pressure to mileage.


Top of the line models feature an eight way Bose speaker system and a mood enhancing environment. The car comes loaded with 14 different mood based programs that can be changed via the UVO app and or within the car from the infotainment system.


There's a 360 degree camera that is brilliant, a rear view monitor, and a blind view monitor. One just has to flick the indicator on to activate the blind view cameras, something we found really helpful while driving in the narrow streets.


In what is a ‘world first' feature, the car has a smart air purifier tucked away neatly into the driver's armrest. It purifies, measures and displays air quality inside the vehicle and also has three different pre-loaded fragrances to choose from.


Kia Motors has added a lot of safety features to the all new Seltos and they include six airbags, ABS, Vehicle Stability Management, ESC, Hill Start Assist, front and rear parking sensors, and a Brake-force Assist System. The Seltos also features ISOFIX child seat anchors.


Amenities on the soon to be launched Kia Seltos include a sunroof, an anti-glare mirror, auto light control, rain sensors, a tyre pressure management system, and a wireless charger for smartphones.


The Kia Seltos also comes with it's own UVO application that is available on both the Play Store and the iStore. The app allows for in car, and smartphone controlled features.


One can use voice commands to control navigation and media, remote start the car, set climate control, send destination routes to the car, set time and Geo fencing, check vehicle status remotely, and also features stolen vehicle tracking and immobilization.


Engine, Performance, and Drive

The Seltos (we drove) is powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 140bhp of power and 242Nm of torque and is paired to a seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission. A six-speed manual variant is also on offer.


Also on offer at launch will be a 1.5-litre petrol engine that produces 115bhp of power and 144Nm of torque. The engine will arrive with six-speed manual and a SMARTSTREAM IVT.


In addition, there will be a 1.5-litre VGT diesel engine that produces 115bhp of power and 250Nm of torque. This engine will be offered with a six-speed manual transmission, and a six-speed advanced automatic.


All the engines on offer are BS-VI compliant and Kia Motors wanted to offer all possible combinations of transmissions across the Seltos line-up.


The 1.4-litre petrol GDI seven speed DCT was our favourite. The 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission or DCT offered in the 140bhp, 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine offers quick and firm shifts with good acceleration and a sporty driving feel, which are more characteristic to a manual transmission.


In city driving, the DCT transmission is smooth and changes up quickly at 2000 rpm in the normal driving mode. This also helps in maximizing fuel efficiency. However, in sport mode and heavy-footed driving, the turbo-charged petrol engine revs freely and the DCT offers quick and sporty shifts at 6500 rpm.


For the enthusiastic driver who drives on mixed roads including city and highway, the 140bhp, 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with the 7-speed DCT delivers the best of both worlds - the sportiness of a manual transmission and the convenience of an automatic.


We also drove the HTX 1.5-litre VGT diesel six speed manual variant and found the 1.5 diesel very responsive to driver inputs. The gearbox is simple and efficient and slots very smoothly.


Power and torque kick in really quick and we found it was easy to drive around in traffic without the need to change gears often. The drive quality is excellent. There's hardly any body roll and the SUV feels light, fast, and agile.

The Seltos is stable in a straight line and very responsive to driver inputs. Gear shifts are seamless, there's no lag with the turbo, and has brilliant pick up. NVH levels are great for its size.


Kia Motors has some next-level brakes on the SUV. The Seltos does 100 to 0 kmph in a distance of 41.9 meters. We found a lot of bite in the brakes. They're responsive, and really sharp. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to slam on the brakes, it might be best to have your seatbelt on. And it not, you're definitely going through the windshield.



Variants, Colours, and Pricing

The Kia Seltos will be available in two basic trims - the Tech-Line, and the GT-Line. These two trims will comprise of three variants each. The Tech-Line will be offered in the HTX, HTK and HTE trims, and the GT-Line will be offered in GTX, GTK and GTE trims.


Primary differentiating features are that the GT-Line comes with sporty red brake calipers, a red center cap on the 17-inch crystal-cut alloy wheels, red inserts below the front air dam and lower part of the doors, sporty alloy pedals, a smart 8.0-inch heads-up display, 360-degree camera with a surround view monitor and auto cruise control.


The Kia Seltos will be available in 13 colour options at launch. Eight of these are monotone options and they are - Intense Red, Aurora Black Pearl, Glacier White Pearl, Punchy Orange, Intelligency Blue, Gravity Grey, Steel Silver, and Clear White.

The other five are dual-tone colours and they are - Intense Red/ Aurora Black Pearl, Steel Silver/ Aurora Black Pearl, Glacier White Pearl/ Aurora Black Pearl, Glacier White Pearl/ Punchy Orange, and Steel Silver/ Punchy Orange.


The Seltos is scheduled to launch on 22 August and we're waiting to hear about pricing. We expect that the SUV will be priced between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 19 lakh (ex-showroom, India). That is really our assumption, but Kia might just surprise us, again.


Competition and Fact Check!

Once launched the all-new Kia Seltos will compete with the MG Hector, the Tata Harrier, the Jeep Compass, and the Hyundai Creta.



Rahul Jaswal Thinks!

Kia has done a fantastic job with the all new Seltos. We think the SUV has the potential to take India by storm and dominate it's segment. The Seltos is loaded, feature rich, and possibly the best vehicle money can buy. For the competition - it's Game (Almost) Over!

Stay tuned, we'll bring you an in depth video review of the Seltos once it is launched.

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