The Kia Seltos is one of the best selling small SUV and we take the range-topping version for a spin to find out what it’s all about.
Kia’s Seltos line-up ranges in price from $31,690 drive-away to $47,690.
Buyers have two options: a 2.0-litre petrol engine matched to a CVT auto and front-wheel drive or a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine with an eight-speed auto and all-wheel drive. Unfortunately there is no hybrid option, which is being increasingly offered in rival machines.
We are testing the fully-loaded Seltos GT-Line AWD, the most expensive model in the range. It’s substantially cheaper than top-shelf rivals such as the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid ($53,645) and Mazda CX-30 ($53,000).
The Seltos has recently been updated with fresh styling, cabin upgrades and some mechanical improvements. On the surface the Seltos turns heads with its bold styling and heavy dollops of chrome. It also comes with a full-size alloy spare tyre, which is something rivals don’t match.
Tech is front and centre. A 10.25-inch touchscreen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and is paired with a 10.25-inch digital driver display. Also standard is a head-up display that projects vital information on the windscreen in front of the driver.
Kia covers its vehicles with an industry leading seven-year/unlimited km warranty. Servicing is pricey, though, at close to $2200 over five years.
The Seltos’ boxy shape translates to one of the more airy and roomy cabins in its class.
Passengers are greeted by electronically adjustable faux-leather front seats that are heated and ventilated. The high seating position provides good forward vision.
It’s a slick looking cabin with a mix of soft touch materials, textured inserts and harder wearing plastics used throughout. There is a wireless fast charger upfront and four USB ports servicing both rows. In the rear there is decent head, leg and shoulder room to accommodate two adults in relative comfort. Second-row passengers will appreciate the two dedicated aircon vents, too.
A convenient power tailgate grants access to a generously-sized boot.
Well sorted suspension makes for a smooth ride across most road surfaces. The turbo engine is quieter on the move than the non-turbo unit found in cheaper front-wheel drive variants, making for a more serene commute.
The Seltos will automatically brake if it detects a potential collision and will guide you back into your lane if you wander. It will also warn if a car is in your blind spot or approaching from the side as you reverse.
At times, though, the safety tech is too intrusive. The Kia will incessantly beep at you if you go a kilometre over the speed limit. Making matters worse, it relies on a very hit and miss speed-sign recognition system, which often means it’s beeping at you when you’re actually driving below the limit. Unlike some rivals, the Seltos doesn’t have a centre airbag between the front-seat passengers.
As part of the recent update, Kia has ditched a seven-speed dual-clutch auto for a more conventional eight-speed gearbox. This translates to a smoother and more enjoyable commute around town. The dual-clutch shifted quickly but could be jerky at lower speeds. The turbo engine has plenty of oomph for a small SUV, while all-wheel drive grip helps deliver the power to ground without any chirping from the tyres.
It corners and steers sharply for a high-rider, too, with above average body control through the bends.
Fuel consumption of 7.4L/100km is disappointing for a small SUV, although it does take the cheapest unleaded petrol.
Dependable and well equipped all-rounder that’s hurt by high running costs and no hybrid option.
Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos Hybrid AWD, from about $53,600 drive-away
Price tag is tough to swallow but it has class-leading fuel economy and is very cheap to service.
Mazda CX-30 X20 Astina AWD, from about $53,000 drive-away
Expensive but good looking SUV that uses an innovative new engine and mild hybrid tech.
New Hyundai Kona
New small SUV from Kia’s parent company is due later this year and will have a hybrid option.
KIA SELTOS GT-LINE VITALS
PRICE: From $47,690 drive-away
ENGINE: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol, 146kW and 265Nm
WARRANTY/SERVICING: Seven years/unlimited km, $2178 over five years
SAFETY: Six airbags, auto emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, rear occupant alert, safe exit warning, radar cruise control and reversing camera
SPARE: Full size alloy